The Australian Quartet (ASQ) will lose two of its members this year. First violinist Sophie Rowell and violist Sally Boud will step down following the quartet’s performances at the Huntington Estate Music Festival in late November.

The quartet’s management has begun an international search to fill the posts ready for the opening of the 2012 season early next year.

Rowell commented on her decision, ‘I have enjoyed twelve wonderful years with the quartet, five of those as the ASQ. It's been an absolutely amazing musical journey. While I am excited by the new opportunities that are to come for me personally, I am first and foremost looking forward to a fantastic year of incredible music throughout the 2011 ASQ season.’

Boud has cited family reasons for her departure: ‘The ASQ is a huge part of my life and is like a second family to me. The difficulties in combining motherhood with touring and travel mean that my musical career is set for new directions.’

The group’s cellist, Rachel Johnston, commented, ’This is the end of an era for our quartet, but at the same time this is a new opportunity for the ASQ. Both Anne [Horton, the goup’s second violin] and I are thrilled for the girls and our personal sadness at saying goodbye to our colleagues is relieved by knowing that having two such incredible musicians back out in the creative pool can only be a gain for classical music in Australia. I look forward to new collaborations and making 2011 a very special year for the ASQ.’