String Quartet: An AIDS Activist’s Memoir


ABC Classic FM presents the broadcast premiere of an extraordinary work written during the peak of the AIDS epidemic by one of Australia’s leading AIDS activists at the time, composer Lyle Chan and performed by the Acacia Quartet comprising Lisa Stewart and Myee Clohessy, violins, Stefan Duwe, viola and Anna Martin-Scrase, cello. As well, the performance will be webcast live, internationally.

The Acacia Quartet
The Acacia Quartet

String Quartet: An AIDS Activist’s Memoir was sketched in the crisis years 1991-1996, but only completed some 20 years later. The moving 90-minute work contains reflections of historic events, portraits of activist friends now dead, and realistic effects like the use of police whistles to recall street demonstrations by ACT UP, the direct action protest group of which Lyle Chan was a core member. During those years he and fellow activists couriered AIDS treatments from the US that were unavailable here, fiercely lobbied federal government to approve experimental treatments more quickly, and collaborated with drug companies to design clinical trials of promising new treatments.

Lyle Chan’s works have been performed by the likes of soprano Taryn Fiebig, pianist Simon Tedeschi, Sydney Philharmonia Choir and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Lyle Chan will speak at the Sydney concert, presenting his perspectives on the music he has written.

Free admission. Bookings essential. Click here to book.

Seats must be taken by 7.45pm as the concert is radio broadcast and webcast internationally live. For this reason, latecomers cannot be admitted to the performance.

Lyle Chan
Lyle Chan

“During those years, I’d given up music to be an activist. But a composer is always a composer. I still sketched a lot of music. These sketches were my diaries, a way of writing down feelings. I think of music as the sound that feelings make.” says Chan.

“Lyle Chan’s string quartet is a very ambitious work born out of a seemingly endless plague. Its composer has taken his experiences of living through the enormous tragedy of AIDS and from them has molded a serious and deeply felt work of art.” –  John Corigliano  

Click here to sample and purchase the album.


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