MGQ wins Contemporary Masters Award 2 years running

One of the major projects undertaken by MGQ this year was the performance of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint. This involved the pre-recording of 9 tracks with MGQ to play the remaining 4 unrecorded parts live in concert, a total of 13 guitars playing together! The performance of this work at the Melbourne Recital Centre in November was awarded the Contemporary Masters Award for the July-December round, making it two years running that MGQ has received this prestigious accolade. This award is based on judging criteria covering technique and intonation, musicianship, ensemble work, ability to engage the audience and complexity and difficulty of the piece.

A fitting way to celebrate the 80th birthday of Steve Reich!

MGQ welcomes new member

We wish to announce that after almost 9 years with MGQ, our friend and colleague Tonié Field has decided to hang up the ‘MGQ boots’. Tonié has contributed enormously to the quartet over the many years and will certainly be missed. All the very best for the future Tonié, we hope you pursue all your dreams to their fullest!

And here’s the good news…A huge MGQ welcome to Michael MacManus, (aka Macca) we are thrilled to have you onboard. Catch MGQ’s new line up, (and Macca’s debut performance with us!) on July 5th at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Oh…and Macca, no ties needed in the MGQ office!

New lineup

Q&A with Ben Dix

The Melbourne Recital Centre did a Q&A with Ben Dix recently, check out the article HERE or read the transcript below!


A Q&A with Benjamin Dix from Melbourne Guitar Quartet

What is your goal/s for your Local Heroes series in 2016?
Through innovative self-penned arrangements and original interpretations of contemporary works and established classics, MGQ aim to re-establish the notion of the guitar quartet as a significant and vital feature of chamber ensemble. The Local Heroes series allows us to share the vivid, evocative and rich qualities of the guitar with the wonderful audiences of Melbourne.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
In a nutshell, good relationships. I must admit, sometimes a great cup of coffee will do also.

What do you think about when you perform live?
I would be lying if I didn’t say that at times I think of not making any mistakes, or about tricky passages. More so, I think about communication and conveying whatever thoughts or emotions are woven into the music. Accompaxnying this is the thought of ‘how lucky I am to be playing such great music and sharing it with others’.

Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?
Perhaps Plato. I guess he was one of the original advocates of music education, speaking of the importance of teaching children music and the benefits that music has on the soul and society as a whole. I would also have to add Johannes Brahms, because of the beard!

Where is your favourite place on Earth and why?
Nothing beats the ‘here and now’ – a touch cliché I know. However, the town of Konstanz in southern Germany is simply amazing. Situated on the wonderful Bodensee (Lake Constance), it’s a very special place. Having some family over there might have influenced my decision.

If you could swap places with any other human or animal who or what would you choose and why?
My cat, Harry. What a life he has – sleep, stretch, eat, repeat. He loves his music too, managing to sneak in on a few practice sessions and the odd guitar lesson.

Who is your ideal audience?
Anyone that is willing to listen.

What colours speak to you? Have you ever experienced synaesthesia?
I can’t quite put it into words but there is something mesmerising about the shifting colours of the sea and sky. After an MGQ concert, an audience member with synaesthesia came up to us and explain what they ‘saw’ during our performance…mind blowing!  It certainly gave us another perspective on looking at tonal colours, very fascinating. I’ve had students with synaesthesia also, made for some very interesting lessons.

Which living person do you most admire and why?
I think everyone on the planet was moved when Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m in awe of individuals that are brave, speak the truth, take risks and campaign for the welfare, well-being and basic human rights of countless others.

What is your favourite book and why?
Frederick by Leo Lionni. This is a great children’s book about a little field mouse Frederick and his four brothers preparing for the winter months. Frederick teaches us that it is important to feed our souls and not just our appetite and to nourish the souls of those around you also. Go Frederick!

What is your favourite piece of music and why?
Asking a musician their favourite piece…very tough. ‘Tabula Rasa’ by Arvo Pärt, simply beautiful.

How did you come to play your instrument/s?
I enrolled in classical guitar lessons at high school after my parents bought me Slava Grigoryan’s first album, Spirit of Spain. When I heard the first track I thought, ‘there has to be more than one guitar playing, this is crazy’. After hearing that I asked mum and dad to sign me up for lessons.

Meet our heroes

The Melboure Recital Centre have done a nice article HERE about us as one of their local heroes for 2016! Thanks for the support and be sure to check out the other 2016 local heroes!


MGQ receives Contemporary Masters Award

Melbourne Recital Centre is thrilled to announce the July to December 2015 Contemporary Masters Award has been awarded to Melbourne ensemble Melbourne Guitar Quartet.

The members of Melbourne Guitar Quartet, Ben Dix, Tonié Field, Jeremy Tottenham and Dan McKay, performed their winning interpretation of News from Nowhere by Philip Houghton on 17 September in the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre.

The award is supported by pianist Stephen McIntyre AM and friends who established the award in honour of Stephen’s birthday. It enables Melbourne Recital Centre to recognise the finest performances of repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Contemporary Masters Performance Award is open to all artists (individuals and ensembles) who perform at Melbourne Recital Centre throughout the year.

Melbourne Recital Centre’s Director of Artistic Planning, Marshall McGuire says: “Melbourne Recital Centre prides itself on presenting the widest range of musical styles possible, from the renaissance to the current day. This enlightened support, from friends and supporters of Australia’s great pianist Stephen McIntyre, enables us to celebrate some of the outstanding performances of twentieth and twenty-first century music performed by Melbourne’s leading performers. In a rich field, the Melbourne Guitar Quartet stood out for a performance that captured the spirit of the work, entranced the audience and displayed once again their mastery of their instruments.”

Nominees for the July to December 2015 round included Benaud Trio, Melbourne Art Song Collective, Trio Anima Mundi, Syzygy Ensemble, Inventi Ensemble, Plexus, Markiyan Melnychenko, Sutherland Trio and Grigoryan Brothers. The panel, consisting of Colin Golvan QC, Mary Doumany, Mary Vallentine and Marshall McGuire awarded Melbourne Guitar Quartet the prize based on judging criteria covering technique and intonation, musicianship, ensemble work, ability to engage the audience and complexity and difficulty of the piece. Melbourne Guitar Quartet has been awarded a $1000 cash prize.