Angelina another string to Quartet’s bow

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Published: 1st June, 2012

The Australian String Quartet’s new Executive Director is smashing more than one stereotype just months into the job. Her passion for strings is a given but Angelina Zucco is also a composer – and is possibly the first senior arts director to also confess to some technical prowess on Guitar Hero! Seriously, you’d have to acknowledge her suitability for the role. A music graduate from South Australia, Zucco has a wealth of experience, including roles as an arts manager in organisations such as Musica Viva Australia and Carclew Youth Arts, and as General Manager of the Zephyr Quartet. Of her many achievements thus far Zucco treasures her association with the Zephyr Quartet. “I hold my experiences working with the Zephyr Quartet most dear”, she said. “Many a proud moment has been shared with the Quartet both as composer and more recently as their manager.” ArtsHub reported in April that Zucco’s appointment followed a national recruitment search. Paul Clitheroe, Chair of the Australian String Quartet, said “her dedication and passion for business development in the art music scene is an invaluable asset which will assist with the development and success of the ASQ.” But where did this career path start? Zucco told me: “The recent un-earthing of a time capsule from my primary school years revealed that my earliest musical aspiration was to play the violin with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. ”Thankfully, there are alternate pathways into the industry as it became painfully evident that string playing wasn’t my strongest suit.” One of those paths was as a composer. Zucco’s experimental string quartet titled Loop was arranged by the Zephyr Quartet for their first CD release in 2001. Since then the piece has been performed in over 100 school performances and has most recently been published in Musica Viva’s Sound Safari educational resource for primary school teachers. With a keen interest in composing for children, Zucco’s Farmyard Medley for string quartet and beats was performed by the Zephyr Quartet and DJ Tr!p at Toddlertheque as part of the Come Out Family Weekend in 2011. Other works by Zucco include Scenes from a Calabrese Opera, and Soap, premiered by ACME Jazz Quintet at the Sydney Opera House Studio as part of the Sydney Spring Festival. Among her most recent work is a semi-improvised piece titled The Pigeon for two cellos and piano, that was recorded with Zucco herself playing the piano. The piece is playing on loop under Adelaide’s Morphett Street Bridge as part of an experimental public art installation. While many composers also work as teachers, or professional musicians, it is interesting that Zucco has chosen management as the other string to her bow. I asked how she managed these two quite different demands on her time. “Quite frankly, I don’t”, Zucco admitted. “It’s early days for me here at the ASQ and my energies are entirely focused on leading the Quartet into a new and exciting era of music making. I’m confident that in good time the opportunity to compose will present itself and with the pressure of a looming deadline, I always find the time to write. “It is a privilege to be a part of the ASQ at such an exciting time. The Quartet is positioned for an incredible season of growth and I am absolutely thrilled to have a part to play.” Zucco continued: “As the only full-time string quartet in Australia, the ASQ is truly a unique organisation with an incredible history”, she said. “We are gifted with exceptional musicians, exquisite instruments, a dedicated board and passionate supporters. With these strong foundations in place, our aspiration is to establish our reputation on a world stage. “In Australia, we’re keen to support the development of the next generation of string players and we are currently developing a program to offer mentoring support to emerging quartets around the country.” Not surprisingly, my query: “Where do you see yourself in ten years time?”, took Zucco by surprise. “Wow, I can’t honestly say that I’m the ten-year trajectory kind of girl”, she said. “As an aspiring composer, I guess my ten-year goal is to “emerge” once and for all.” “My new role at the ASQ weaves together all of my passions – music (more specifically, string instruments), working with people and business development. I am enjoying this role immensely and see myself here for many years to come.”