On the Couch with Dale Barltrop

ASQ-Dale-BarltropWho is Dale Barltrop?
I am a violinist, originally from Brisbane, who is lucky enough to be a member of the Australian String Quartet and Co-Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’d also play jazz! I’ve devoted almost my entire life to being a classical musician, honing my craft on the violin and being consumed by the art of bringing to life notes on a page. But when I see a great jazz musician improvise, use their artistry and skills to create a moment in time that has never been heard before and never to be replicated, I cannot help but marvel at the freedom and spontaneity in this approach to music-making. If I were to start my own music school, I’d have every student learning jazz.

Who inspires you and why?
To be perfectly honest, it’s my colleagues who inspire me the most. To play in a string quartet is like being in a four-way marriage. We spend an absurd amount of time together, obsessing over music that we will often work on for months at a time, challenging and supporting each other, hoping to bring out the best in each other in the pursuit of the highest artistic ideals. Whether we are performing, rehearsing, traveling or drinking at the bar after a concert, it is my musical family that I look to for inspiration on a daily basis.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The most impact that I believe I can make in the world is to be a passionate advocate for music and its power to unite people regardless of age, race, gender or religion. Here in Australia, I feel very strongly that we can do better to put music on every single student’s curriculum. It should be a child’s right to learn music, just as vital as reading and writing.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
British Columbia, Canada. I lived in Vancouver for 7 years and my partner (a BC native) and I have a home there. It is without a doubt one of my favourite places to be, regardless of the season. The natural beauty of western Canada is intoxicating, and the sheer majesty of the place takes my breath away.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’m a resident of Southbank in Melbourne, so for me, it’s a no-brainer. For culture, the NGV, the Arts Centre and Melbourne Recital Centre are right at my doorstep and among the finest arts venues in the country. But for natural beauty, I need look no further than my own backyard, the Royal Botanic Gardens, which is my favourite place to be in Melbourne.

What are you currently reading?
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The recent Sydney Theatre Company adaptation directed by Kip Williams and starring Eryn Jean Norvill was a revelation – one of the best theatre experiences of my life. I simply had to read the novel, which is just pure decadence – what an astonishing book.

What are you currently listening to?
Simon and Garfunkel.

Happiness is?
Pool, ocean or lake, wherever and whenever I possibly can!

What does the future hold for you?
Music. That, I can be sure of.

Dale and the Australian String Quartet (ASQ) will grace concert stages around the country in October and November with Symonds Beethoven – a program that is the culmination of a year-long journey with two monumental works by Beethoven and Australian composer Jack Symonds. For more information and performance schedule, visit: www.asq.com.au for details.

Image: Dale Barltrop – courtesy of Australian String Quartet