It was almost possible to feel the collective nod of approval from music teachers past as the ethereal sounds of the Acacia Quartet filled the Romanesque chapel at the Convent on Saturday evening.

In introducing the acclaimed Australian ensemble, Gunnedah Conservatorium director Rebecca Ryan also paid tribute to the Sisters of Mercy who were involved in education and pastoral and aged care but one of their greatest gifts to the community was music.

“Many local musicians were taught piano and violin in the little music rooms nearby at the convent, where students also prepared for examinations,” she said.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Sisters and to present this wonderful stringed quartet in this beautiful chapel is a gift.”

As the sounds of the old composers filled the hallowed walls of the century old Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Chapel, the audience was taken on a trip back through time, as the cello, violins and viola blended in perfect harmony.

At times it sounded like a complete stringed orchestra was performing right there in the sanctuary of the altar, as the Tchaikovsky String Quartet 1 and Borodin String Quartet 2 were revealed to a thrilled audience.

Adam Wills on the marimba.

As refreshments were prepared in the nearby Dignam Room, the director of Clarence Conservatorium, in Grafton, Adam Wills, rolled out his marimba, producing a completely contrasting sound, backed by the strings.

Believed to have originated in southern Africa, the marimba belongs to the percussion family and the sound develops through wooden bars struck by mallets.

Below each bar is a resonator pipe that amplifies its sound and combined with the music of the strings, it was another mesmerising performance for the audience as the musician wove his magic, often handling two or three mini mallets in each hand to produce Tinoco – Ends Meet.

The second half of the concert proved to be just as uplifting with the chapel abuzz as visitors enthused about the magical performance of the Acacia Quartet after the show.

Formed in 2010, the quartet is one of Australia’s most respected string ensembles, with 12 albums and Aria music awards. They are also very passionate supporters of emerging young musicians, previously working with the NSW Regional Youth Orchestra.

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