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Farewell to Douglas Beilman

In December 2015, friends and colleagues of Douglas Beilman and the New Zealand String Quartet came together to say goodbye.  It was an opportunity to share memories, listen to music and hear from those who had worked closely with Doug over his 26 years as 2nd violinist with the New Zealand String Quartet.  The speeches reflected the high esteem in which Doug is held and were testament to the outstanding contribution he has made to the work of the Quartet and to New Zealand’s musical life. 

Doug’s years with the Quartet began in 1989, following a meeting of musical minds at the Banff International String Quartet Competition that year. In her speech, Gillian Ansell described their first meeting: “I remember sitting with other contestants at lunch, at a long table in the dining-room, all listening to the good-looking-chap who was talking about music and people in the chamber music world in a seemingly nonstop stream-of-consciousness flow."

Following discussions and an invitation to audition, Doug became 2nd violinist of the NZSQ later that year. Gillian continued: “The next time we saw Doug was late June the same year - 1989 - at Boston airport, where he collected Jo, Wilma and me off our flight from New Zealand and drove us to Tanglewood, where we spent two months working intensively with members of the Juilliard Quartet and other brilliant and legendary chamber music coaches.”  A long and fruitful relationship had begun.

Both Gillian and Gary Hawke, current Chair of the NZ String Quartet Trust, highlighted two particular contributions made by Doug. The first was his pivotal role in establishing the Adam Chamber Music Festival and Adam Summer School in Nelson with Gary noting: “The Festival ranks with international festivals anywhere and the Summer School is now an important part of NZSQ’s sector leadership.” 

The second has been Doug’s enthusiasm for new music. In his speech, Gary recalled how this demonstrated the speed with which Doug became part of New Zealand’s music life:  “In April 1991 at the second Sonic Boom concert Doug appeared in two premiere performances. One was Ross Carey’s Quintet (1991) with the composer at the piano, Andrew Pask (alto saxophone and clarinet), Gillian Ansell (viola) and Josephine Young (cello). The other was Andra Patterson’s Sextet (1991), with Ronald Webb (oboe), Stanley Friedman (trumpet), Marc Taddei (trombone), Dale Gold (bass) and Diane Cooper (piano).”  

Doug established and ran the contemporary group CadeNZa in the 1990s and also commissioned new work for the Adam Festival during his decade as Artistic Director.