09 April 2014

Flinders Quartet: Over a skinny latté II

Helen Ireland
Tucci Brown, Brighton
3 March 2014

The second in a series of interviews with members of Flinders Quartet.

First published in Flinders Quartet: April update 2014

Helen settled for lemon and ginger tea and looked over my questions. She smiled so I asked when the viola discovered her. Their meeting was more or less accidental she said. It spoke to her when they met – and has ever since.

A primary school classmate was going to a music lesson so she went too. The teacher had a ¾ viola. Helen was taller than the other student so she could hold it. The stars aligned. She started lessons with the same teacher and studied viola through primary school and high school.

The two Helens played in a string quartet, busking and playing at weddings through high school. All four are now professional musicians.

Helen played with AYO in Year 12 and her deskie recommended Vince Edwards at Canberra School of Music so she left Adelaide at 17.

Helen Ireland

“I love my viola. It’s Australian, made by W E Smith in 1939. It belonged to Vince when he was my teacher and I’d always hoped I might end up playing it.”

“It’s a very beautiful instrument but it’s enormous. It’s got a very rich, very mellow tone – it’s verging on a cello – partly because it’s so big. It’s got a very warm, full bloom which I really love.”

“I discovered the world of chamber music at the Townsville Chamber Music Festival. I thought, ‘Wow. This is for me’. I went to concerts, page-turned and got involved in the education program.”

She had contracts with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, studied at Elder Conservatorium with Keith Crellin then enrolled at ANAM. First year was a bit difficult but in second year she met Zoe again. They’d worked together with TSO.

“She told me she was thinking of forming a quartet and she’d love me to be the violist. That was a really beautiful thing (she smiled). If it hadn’t been for that I might not be playing now.”

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