FourPlay adds excitement to Good Folk in Queanbeyan

FourPlay String Quartet at Good Folk
5.30pm Sunday 4 April 2021
Queanbeyan Bicentennial Hall

In 1995, four members of the Australian Youth Orchestra started ‘mucking around’ and playing covers of artists such as Jimi Hendrix. As a joke, they entered a university band competition – and won.

After 25 years, FourPlay is still a string quartet, comprised of violinist and singer Lara Goodridge, viola players Tim Hollo and Shenzo Gregorio, and cellist (and Tim’s brother), Peter Hollo. But there’s no penguin suit or evening gown in sight.

In this interview with Richard, FourPlay violist Tim Hollo talks about the group, its history, and his environmental activism.

Tim Hollo’s work as a Greens political staffer and environmental activist brought him and his young family to Canberra. He says the group plays ‘anything’ on their string instruments.

‘As a band, which has studiously refused to be defined by genre for our entire quarter of a century, we’ve found a lot that we can cross over into a whole lot of different spaces,’ he says.

‘One of our kind of original homes in a sense as a venue was The Basement in Sydney, which is a jazz venue primarily, but we’ve also played numerous times at the Woodford Folk Festival, and here at the National Folk Festival.

‘One of the most exciting things in my life was performing at Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as the Opera House in Sydney, in classical venues. And of course, rock venues – we’ve played in some pretty divey rock venues over the years.’

Tim Hollo says a lot of FourPlay’s music has folk inspiration.

‘The term folk has expanded a lot in the last little while – it’s kind of broadened to mean much more in the way of roots music, which can include blues and klezmer, and gypsy and all sorts of things like that,’ he says, pointing out that three of the members of the band are Jewish and grew up with klezmer.

One of the challenges for Hollo was learning to improvise.

‘As a classical musician you are not taught to improvise at all,’ he says. ‘When we first started doing our covers, we were writing our parts, note for note, actually transcribing what was being played onto the stave, and learning those parts…I was doing what most others do in this process of learning how to improvise, which is listening to somebody else improvising, learning what they’re playing, repeating it and then learning to muck around around that.

‘It was probably a good first decade or so before I stated to feel comfortable improvising live.’

Hollo is also the founder of Green Music Australia, which brought together his passions for music and reducing its environmental impact, such as by changing touring patterns, reducing waste at concert venues, and having artists model waste reduction by, for example, drinking from reusable bottles on stage.

Tickets for FourPlay’s concert, at 5.30pm on Sunday 4 April 2021, are available at https://www.folkfestival.org.au/good-folk

Image of FourPlay from Good Folk website