Flinders Quartet to premiere Hidden Thoughts II: Return to Sender

Flinders-Quartet-photo-by-Pia-JohnsonMelbourne’s longest running professional string quartet, Flinders Quartet presents the world premiere of Hidden Thoughts II: Return to Sender – a brand-new work for female voice, narrator and string quartet from renowned Australian composer Dr Katy Abbott. The concert will be performed and streamed live to homes across Australia, direct from the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall on Thursday 23 July 2020.

In 2013, barrister Julian Burnside AO QC asked Australians to write letters of comfort and encouragement to asylum seekers detained on Nauru. Nearly 2000 of those letters were returned unopened, marked “Return to sender”.

After painstakingly reading through the letters, Abbott was inspired to write this piece as a musical response; drawing on verbatim theatre with spoken word, song and visual elements in an incredibly moving text from the extraordinary number of Australians who were compelled to reach out and connect with people they’d never met.

“The Australians who wrote letters have big hearts and a lyrical way with words; chatty, insightful, witty, heartfelt, empathetic, outraged, funny, vulnerable, extremely artistic, thoughtful and poignant,” said Composer Katy Abbott. “I always meant to write a letter, but I never did. This work is my contribution to that dialogue”.

Performed by Flinders Quartet alongside three-time Green Room Award winner, and 2018 Helpmann Award nominee, mezzo-soprano Dimity Shepherd, the concert will be narrated by actor and performer Richard Piper (Come From Away).

“Performing this work provides us with a rare opportunity to be a voice for those who haven’t been able to have had their words heard,” said Zoe Knighton, Flinders Quartet Artistic Spokesperson and Cellist. “It is one of the most important premieres of Flinders Quartet’s 20 year history, for so many reasons.”

“Katy’s way of writing is so innately human that even practicing it on our own has been incredibly moving. Now, more than ever, we hope that this work inspires compassion and empathy.”

Flinders Quartet (FQ) is instantly recognisable as one of Australia’s most loved chamber music ensembles. A quartet for the twenty-first century, FQ approaches its third decade with acknowledged musical skill and maturity. The group’s dynamic and stirring performances of a full spectrum of repertoire have audiences and critics articulating their esteem, and the quartet is a highly-respected force in Australian chamber music.


Hidden Thoughts II: Return to Sender will be live-streamed on Thursday 23 July 2020 – 7.00pm. For more information, visit: www.melbournedigitalconcerthall.com For more information about Flinders Quartet, visit: www.flindersquartet.com for details.

Image: Thibaud Pavlovic-Hobba (violin); Zoe Knighton (cello); Wilma Smith (violin); and Helen Ireland (viola) are the Flinders Quartet – photo by Pia Johnson

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