The members of the Melba Quartet were the Australian String Quartet in it’s foundation years 1985 – 1996 with second violinist Elinor Lea replacing the original ASQ second violinist Douglas Weiland in 1990. During these formative years the Adelaide based ASQ built a fine reputation on five continents and twenty countries and enjoyed strong public support right across Australia. In those years the ASQ annually toured regionally for Musica Viva and regularly appeared in all the major city Musica Viva subscription series. The ASQ performed hundreds of schools concerts, especially across South Australia, and commissioned and/or gave first performances of new works by Douglas Weiland, Richard Mills, Graheme Koehne, Larry Sitsky, Malcolm Williamson, Ralph Middenway,Tristram Cary and Nigel Butterley. In these year the ASQ recorded CDs for ABC Classics, Marco Polo, Tall Poppies and the German label CPO and broadcast for major radio networks in Australia, UK, USA, New Zealand, Hong Kong, West Germany, France, Canada and Brazil.
Special highlights of ASQ life in those years included hundreds of school concerts, Wigmore Hall concerts in London, the 1988 China tour, major North American tours, an Australian national tour of all of the six Bartok quartets in 1995 in recognition of the 50th year of the Bartok’s passing, the presentation of the complete op 20 set (six quartets) of Haydn coupled with six significant new Australian quartets at the 1994 Adelaide Festival, the association with Sir Michael Tippett in Perth and Brisbane with his Second and Fourth Quartets in 1990, the presentation of all the late quartets of Beethoven at the 1996 Adelaide Festival, strong bi-partisan support from the South Australian Government, and the unflinching support of the late John Bannon who was both Premier and Minister for the Arts in South Australia.