Acacia Quartet seeks the unusual and emotional for its performances

PLAYING THE UNUSUAL: Acacia Quartet, including Anna Martin-Scrase (second right), will perform a concert in Bega in July. Picture: Chris Donaldson
PLAYING THE UNUSUAL: Acacia Quartet, including Anna Martin-Scrase (second right), will perform a concert in Bega in July. Picture: Chris Donaldson

The Acacia Quartet aims to share its passion for chamber music with the world, constantly trying to find something a little different.

"We always try to perform something new, usually Australian, and general unusual," the quartet's cellist Anna Martin-Scrase said.

"We love playing the likes of Mozart, but then pair it with something new the audience hasn't heard before."

For instance, included on the program for their July performance in Bega is the world premiere of a new piece by a friend of theirs, Lyle Chan, as well as one by a Canadian by the name of Airat Ichmouratov which Martin-Scrase described as "so much fun" and made her think of circus music.

The 37-year-old said her string quartet was picky about which compositions it chose, always on the look-out for something that pulled audiences into the music emotionally.

"I think we are quite an emotional quartet - our first violinist puts her heart and soul into everything," she said.

"We're more intuitive music than intellectual music makers."

Raised in Vermont, USA, moving to Australia when she was 16, currently living in Sydney but planning a move to Wolumla; Martin-Scrase has seen a fair amount of the world, but the passion for chamber and string music has continued throughout her life since she was young.

"I like to be in charge of my own voice. If you're sitting in an orchestra, your job is to blend in, but in the group I'm the only cellist," she said.

"Our group is also a democracy, you have a voice and you can bounce ideas off each other.

"People sometimes compare it to a marriage; and it is in a way.

"It's a four-part marriage that has its ups and downs and even if we personally have some clashes, which is like any marriage, it is very rewarding."

Lyle Chan - Andante Moderato excerpt performed by Acacia Quartet

She said it was easier to make a living as a chamber musician in Europe, as there was more funding and greater numbers of people attending concerts.

But in Australia they have found they attracted more of an audience in regional areas compared to cities, which she thought was partly due to the higher cost of living in a place like Sydney as well as performers coming through more regularly.

"We love what we do, we put all our energy into it because of the reward we get out of it," she said.

"But it's not something I'd recommend for someone who wants to get a mortgage!"

The Acacia Quartet will perform at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, Bega on Saturday, July 27 at 2pm. Tickets are $30/$25.

Its members will teach at the South Coast Music Camp in Bega in September and students can contact them for lessons.