JACK Quartet – String Creatures


Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre


Experience the Australian premiere of a new Liza Lim work, performed by one of the planet’s top quartets.

Champions of 20th and 21st-century string quartet music, JACK Quartet has been described by its home-city publication as being the ‘expert in the most ferociously difficult modern scores’ (The New Yorker), and for good reason.

Since first joining forces almost 20 years ago, JACK Quartet’s reputation for being one of the most respected experimental string quartets has continued to build. Known as contemporary music celebrities, JACK Quartet explored their untapped skills as magicians and escape artists during workshops with Liza Lim for String Creatures. Co-commissioned by Melbourne Recital Centre, the struggling echoes of being trapped felt in the first movement were directly inspired by John Richards – the Quartet’s violist – attempting to free his hands after being tied to the neck of his instrument during an early workshop.

The fascination with string and rope continued throughout the creative process for one of Australia’s most successful contemporary composers: ‘There’s something magical about string … A string retains every twist and turn that it encounters’ (Liza Lim).

Ruth Crawford Seeger’s time capsule String Quartet 1931 precedes the Australian premiere of String Creatures. Written in Germany but often described as an active dismissal of the latest in European musical trends, String Quartet 1931 cemented her among the most daring and accomplished American avant-garde composers. Similarly, Elliott Carter was determined to shatter the status quo when he wrote his inaugural String Quartet, proclaiming that he wanted to break free from his ‘professional and social responsibility to write interesting, direct, easily understood music.’ A desire that can be felt and heard throughout, even in the moments of heart and soul hidden deep within the notes.

Post-Concert Talk

Following this extraordinary performance, Liza Lim will join Melbourne Recital Centre’s Director of Programming, Marshall McGuire, for a 20-minute discussion about the Australian Premiere of her new Melbourne Recital Centre commissioned work String Creatures and more.

JACK Quartet Up Late

Want to continue your JACK Quartet experience? Join the ensemble on the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall stage for an unmissable up-late performance. Book your tickets here.

Generously supported by the Robert Salzer Foundation.

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Artists & Program


JACK Quartet
Christopher Otto violin
Austin Wulliman violin
John Richards viola
Jay Campbell cello


Ruth Crawford Seeger
String Quartet 1931

Elliott Carter
String Quartet No.1

Liza Lim
String Creatures (Australian Premiere)
Liza Lim’s String Creatures is co-commissioned by the Lucerne Festival, Miller Theatre at Columbia University and Melbourne Recital Centre.

Read the Program Notes

Experience Guide

See.png See one of the world’s great contemporary string quartets.

Hear.png Hear the Australian premiere of a new work by one of Australia’s most globally celebrated composers.

Think.png Think about the profound impact these three composers have had on contemporary compositions.

Feel.png Feel moments of angst with a soft-landing of sweeping melodies.


This production is part of the following series: