First violin and violist will part ways with the all-female group at the end of the 2011 season.

The Australian String Quartet (ASQ) today announced that its 2011 season will be the last in its current line-up. Violinist Sophie Rowell and violist Sally Boud will be leaving following the ensemble’s performances at the Huntington Estate Music Festival in November, with Anne Horton (violin) and Rachel Johnston (cello) to remain ASQ members. An international search to replace the two outgoing players is underway.

Rowell, one of the most sought-after violinists in Australia, made the decision to leave in order to focus on a solo career. “I have enjoyed 12 wonderful years with the quartet, five of those as the ASQ. It’s been an absolutely amazing musical journey. While I am excited by the new opportunities that are to come for me personally, I am first and foremost looking forward to a fantastic year of incredible music throughout the 2011 ASQ season”, she said of her impending departure. She has had solo engagements with all Australia’s state orchestras and in 1999 was awarded Second Prize in the International Mozart Competition in Salzburg.

It is for family commitments and to spend more time with her two-year-old son Louis that Sally Boud bids farewell to her “ASQ family”. “The difficulties in combining motherhood with touring and travel mean that my musical career is set for new directions”, she said.

The four women have performed together in the Adelaide-based ASQ since 2006, and previously as founding members of the Tankstream Quartet. They have been active in commissioning and premiering new Australian works, including Brett Dean’s Viola Quintet Epitaphs last year. The quartet’s final season in its current formation features guest artists Sara Macliver and cellist Li-Wei Qin, and a new commission by Western Australian composer James Ledger.