Sound waves

THERE will be a tribute to David Bowie and a hint of heavy metal when four world-class classical guitarists from WA take to the stage in North Perth tomorrow night (Sunday September 17).

The Silver Sands Quartet are open-minded and innovative, playing modern compositions that have a rock, minimalist or ambient flavour, as well as lively Latin American pieces.

There’s no lack of talent in their ranks with the quartet featuring award-winning guitarist and associate WAAPA professor Jonathan Paget, acclaimed French virtuoso Ingrid Riollot, leading Perth guitarist Craig Lake, and seasoned axe man Ethan Dorrian, whose just back from a stint studying and performing in Spain.

Riollot says one of their favourite songs to play is Passing of a Black Star, a tribute to Bowie written by Canberra-based composer Marion Budos.

• The Silver Sands Guitar Quartet (above) fuse classical with rock, minimalism and ambient, including a piece that pays tribute to David Bowie (below).

“We love Bowie’s expressive ballads and his catchy rock riffs—they get under your skin (and you can’t get them out of your head),” Riollot says.

“But honestly, this piece is so much fun for both us and the audience.  

“Even though we are classical musicians, we also live in the modern world. So, yeah, of course we do listen to rock in our spare time – and so do our kids.

“Maybe Jonathan [Paget] is a bit more straight, but even he might enjoy a bit of rock I think (at least in the privacy of his own home). But we also love the novelty of blending the sweetness of the classical nylon sound within a rock groove.”

This melding of rock and classical is most evident when the quartet tackle Outcrop, a new piece by Perth-based composer Azariah Felton.

“It is an intriguing blend, part heavy metal and part Steve Reich (the renowned minimalist), while at the same time evocative of the iconic geological feature so common to the topography of Western Australia,” Riollot says.

“We like to think about Bluff Knoll (close to Azariah’s home town of Albany), although he tells us that he didn’t have any particular outcrop in mind.”

Riollot moved to Australia in 2018 to marry guitar maker Damon Smallman, part of the famous Esperance-based luthiers Smallman & Sons, whose acoustics are played by some of the best guitarists in the world including John Williams.

Before moving to Australia, Riollot had an impressive career in Europe – teaching for many years at music conservatories in France, and performing at prestigious international festivals.

Now based in Esperance, she travels around the world giving masterclasses and performances, and has released four CDs of classical guitar music.

She recently joined Silver Sands, a successful trio that had toured across Australia and Asia.

The French guitarist says being a quartet allows them to explore new material, and they all love playing Latin American-style compositions.

“There is a fantastic Spanish and Latin American heritage for the guitar,” Riollot says.

“We love that Brazilian music is full of lively rhythms, beautiful counterpoint and jazz-infused harmonies, not to mention lots of fast finger work that is fun to watch (for the audience, at least). 

“This is a very fun and engaging program and there is something for everyone—from the rock-inspired, to ambient minimalism, Brazilian, and some beautiful contemporary Australian works.

“This is music that we absolutely love and we feel sure that audiences will love it too.”

 The Silver Sands Guitar Quartet will make its debut at North Perth Town Hall on Sunday September 17. Tix at




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