I’ve always found it interesting to come in on radio broadcasts without knowing who’s playing and quite possibly not even knowing what piece of music is being played. It’s perhaps the most objective listening experience still available to us in a world of multiple instant-access listening platforms boasting “every recording ever made” and the constant and often overbearing (self-)promotion of social media.

Brett Dean Brett Dean. Photo © Bettina Stoess

I’ll never forget, back in 2007, tuning in by chance to a broadcast on ABC, live from the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, of my first string quartet, Eclipse. I’d heard a rumour that one or two groups had taken on this piece as part of their repertoire that year. I’d missed the beginning of the performance, but as I listened, I became increasingly aware that this was one of the finest and most insightful interpretations of a piece of mine that I’d ever heard, and from players I’d never even met. I simply had to listen till the end to find out which group was playing – the Doric String Quartet from the UK.

Since then the Dorics and I have become close friends...

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