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A Look Back on a Magical Tour

In early November this year, the New Zealand String Quartet embarked on a journey to the other side of the world with all of Beethoven’s String Quartets in tow, as well as a bonus programme including works by Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, Salina Fisher and Gareth Farr.

Originally, this month-long tour in Europe was to take place in 2020 - the year that celebrated the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday - but with the serious circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, we had not been able to depart until this year.

The streets of Göttingen.

There were so many highlights from this tour: walking the historical streets of Göttingen (Germany) where Johannes Brahms and Joseph Joachim would have walked some 170 years earlier; taking in the glorious views of Saint Stephen’s Church, Nijmegen (Netherlands) which dates back to the 1200’s, and of course performing in acoustically and visually extraordinary concert halls for audiences in Europe.

Rolf rehearsing in the Concertgebouw De Vereeniging (Nijmegen), while a bust of Beethoven watches over him.

One such concert hall was the Concertgebouw De Vereeniging (Nijmegen), where we performed the final concert of our Netherlands-leg of the Beethoven Cycle. The venue has a magical-yet-grand atmosphere with an Art Nouveau flavour and red-velvet draped seats. The hall invited a more symphonic approach towards string quartet playing, while still allowing a wide variety of sensitive and rich tonal colours. It was truly a rewarding experience bringing Beethoven’s Op.131 and 132 - the closing quartets of our Beethoven Cycle - to an audience that had shared the vast majority of the profound journey with us through every note he wrote for this medium.

What made this journey extra special was spending time with our wonderful hosts, presenters and being able to connect with the audiences both through music and personally.

This journey fills us with great excitement for 2023, where we look forward to sharing great repertoire with our cherished audiences throughout all parts of New Zealand.

- Monique Lapins (Second Violin)

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