FourPlay takes the floor
Variety of music

FourPlay takes the floor

'When we play live, it has a huge energy. We are excited to play together. We feel some sort of magic together and I think the audiences feel that.'

FourPlay with Neil Gaiman. Photo: Chris Frape
FourPlay with Neil Gaiman. Photo: Chris Frape

Lara Goodridge picked up her first violin at age three-and-a-half and she’s never looked back. Since she was a little girl, Goodridge has harboured a love of music. It has taken her on a journey from classical to jazz to cabaret and back again.

After studying through the Conservatorium system, Goodridge took a slight break from music, before realising that life just wasn’t that exciting without it.

Then she met Greta Gertler – at a Jewish wedding of all places – and soon after, Peter Hollo, who was searching for a violinist for his band string quartet, FourPlay, which he founded with his brother, Tim. The band is still going strong 28 years later.

“I had met Peter in a band called Peccadillo headed by our friend Greta Gertler,” Goodridge recalled. “He said his violinist was leaving the band to pursue a classical career and would I like to join? They had a gig on the UNSW lawn, and I went to see them. Apart from the covers, they had a penned a few original tunes as well. I thought it was the most creative, exciting, amazing thing I’d seen in a long time, and I absolutely fell in love with them.”

FourPlay is made up of two violists, one violin and one cello. Inspired by the Kronos Quartet who had recorded a version of Jimmy Hendrix’s Purple Haze, they set about doing their own versions of songs by bands they loved like Metallica, the Beastie Boys, Depeche Mode, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Buckly and the late Sinead O’Connor.

The band has seven studio albums and over the years, they’ve had the opportunity to perform in Hobart, San Francisco, London and Edinburgh and – described as an “incredible experience” by Goodridge – at Carnegie Hall in New York.

“[It was] really quite a moment in time that I will never forget,” she said.

Goodridge explained that over the years, the band moved away from covers, focusing more on their own compositions, which has created a sense of magic onstage.

“Because we all love such a variety of music, FourPlay has a lot of flavours to it,” she said. “When we play live, it has a huge energy. We are excited to play together. We feel some sort of magic together and I think the audiences feel that. I get to sing big songs, the guys sing harmonies and we create a big sound. We bring both joy and gravitas to what we do, and we carry meaning inside our music that we like to share with our audiences. It’s a whole experience for audiences, I would say.”

Their original compositions have also led to collaborations with award-winning UK author Neil Gaiman. Around 12 years ago FourPlay manager Jordan Verzar pitched an idea to the Sydney Opera House of bringing graphic novelists, illustrators and musicians together for new collaborations. Verzar invited Gaiman to Australia specifically suggesting FourPlay as his band, who wrote a live score to Gaiman’s novella The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains. It turned into a lovely and continual working relationship.

“Sometimes we wrote to a piece of his, sometimes we jammed music in a room with Neil writing in a corner to our music. Other times, we wrote on our own and Neil would add say, ‘I have a poem I wrote a while ago that I think will work perfectly with that’ … and so it was that we made this collection of songs/pieces, some spoken word, some sung,” Goodridge said.

She explained that their album Signs of Life includes a lot of these songs, plus a few others based on the star signs of the band members and more.

“One piece, around the sign of a clock, Neil reads Shakespeare’s Sonnet 12 over music we wrote with the ticking of a clock in mind, with the idea of the passing of time.”

Goodridge said working with Gaiman is a dream come true.

“His writing is just so delightful, so clever. He is solemn and poignant, playful and whimsical; at times full of gravitas, hauntingly delicate at others,” she said. “It is a privilege and utter pleasure to be able to write to his words, but moreover to him and with him, as a person. Neil is a gentleman. A kind and generous person. He is open and encouraging. He is easy to work with and highly collaborative. And as a performer, he is all these things with an incredible sense of timing, both musically and of course lyrically. Did I say funny? That too!”

FourPlay has also recently released a record on vinyl called A Taste Of… It was released off the back of Signs of Life as the band thought it would be good to re-introduce themselves to people. Goodridge said there’s a lovely nostalgia to vinyl, with the medium being quite popular nowadays due to its charm.

For more about FourPlay, visit

FourPlay will be performing a selection of pieces from A Taste Of… as well as some pieces from Signs of Life with Neil Gaiman’s recorded voice, at the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival on Sunday, August 27. For tickets, visit

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