Wilma Smith

Former Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wilma was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She studied at Auckland University then in Boston at the New England Conservatory with the legendary Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner before becoming first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music and multiple prizes at the Evian, Banff and Portsmouth International String Quartet Competitions. The quartet was her professional focus in Boston but she also worked regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was Concertmaster of the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and Handel and Haydn Society.  Invited to return home to form the New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma was first violinist for five years until the NZSO appointed her Concertmaster in 1993, a position she held for nine years until taking up the same position with the MSO from 2003 to 2014. In addition to her chamber music series, Wilma & Friends, now in its seventh season, Wilma has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with SSO, WASO, TSO, ASO, OV and APO, and teaches at Melbourne and Monash Universities, Scotch College and Korowa Anglican Girls School. In 2016, she was appointed Artistic Director of the Melbourne Chamber Music Competitions by Musica Viva.

Ian Munro

Piano, Composer

Ian Munro has emerged over recent years as one of Australia’s most distinguished and awarded musicians, with a career that has taken him to thirty countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Australasia. His Premier Grand Prix at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition for composers (2003) is a unique achievement for an Australian and follows on from multiple prizes in international piano competitions in Spain (Maria Canals), Italy (Busoni), Portugal (Vianna da Motta) and the UK, where his Second Prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1987 established his international profile.

After completing his early training in Melbourne under the guidance of Roy Shepherd, a pupil of Alfred Cortot, Ian furthered his studies in Vienna, London and Italy with Noretta Conci, Guido Agosti and Michele Campanella. His international career began in the UK, where he performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, BBC Concert Orchestra, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, broadcasting widely for the BBC. Elsewhere, he performed with orchestras in Poland, Italy, Portugal, Russia, the USA, China, New Zealand and with all the major orchestras in Australia in over sixty piano concerti. Also a widely experienced chamber musician, Ian joined the acclaimed Australia Ensemble in Sydney in 2000.

With an extensive piano discography on ABC Classics, Hyperion, Cala, Naxos, Marco Polo, Tall Poppies and Warehouse labels, Ian is now equally in demand as a composer. He was Featured Composer for Musica Viva in 2011 and his Flute Concerto and Song Cycle Three Birds received their premieres in 2016 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Australia Ensemble respectively, among many other of his chamber works for various ensembles.

Anna Pokorny

Cello

Anna graduated as a cello student of Howard Penny from the Australian National Academy of Music in 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Music from The University of Western Australia where she studied with Dr Suzanne Wijsman, and in 2013-14 undertook further postgraduate performance study at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland with Professor Niall Brown.

Throughout her study Anna performed in master classes with David Geringas, Steven Isserlis, Mischa Maisky, Maxim Vengerov, the Borodin String Quartet, Doric String Quartet, Brodsky String Quartet and Eggner Trio. In 2012 she was an Australian Chamber Orchestra Emerging Artist.

Since 2012 Anna has had the pleasure of performing with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, ACO Collective and West Australian Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician she has appeared in concert series and festivals across Australia including the Perth International Arts Festival, Metropolis Music Festival and Bangalow Music Festival.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Pauline Steele Prize for Bach, ANAM Prize for Most Outstanding Performance in a Recital, Woodside Concerto and ANAM Chamber Music Competition Winner, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Scholarship, and the Ernest V. Llewellyn Memorial Fund Travel and Study Scholarship.

Christopher Moore

Viola

Born in Newcastle, Christopher Moore’s strongest memory from childhood was seeing his mother, Patricia, pulling up in the driveway of his Valentine home with a tiny blue violin case on the back seat. Pat was and still is a dedicated amateur musician and would take Chris to concerts in Newcastle and Sydney long before he had even learned to tie his shoelaces. He studied violin with two prominent Sydney Suzuki teachers, Marjorie Hystek and the late Harold Brissendon, before completing his Bachelor of Music in Newcastle with violinist and pedagogue, Elizabeth Holowell.

After working with Adelaide and New Zealand Symphony Orchestras as a rank-and-file violinist, Chris decided to take up a less highly-strung instrument – he had always thought that the violin made his head look big! He accepted a position as rank-and-file violist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for one-and-a-half years before successfully auditioning for the position of Associate Principal Viola with the same orchestra. Before long, he was gallivanting around the world for nine years as Principal Violist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. As romantic as that sounds, he missed his old chums, Mahler, Schoenberg and Adès, and so has returned to these and other old friends at the MSO as their Principal Violist. Not surprisingly, Christopher’s wife and two daughters are pleased that Papa has hung up his rock star garb and come home to roost like their pet chickens.

Stefan Cassomenos

Piano

Melbourne pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. He has been performing internationally since the age of 10, and is now established as one of Australia’s leading pianists.

Cassomenos gave the world premiere of his own Piano Concerto No 1 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16. His concerto repertoire now exceeds thirty works, and has led to engagements with the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. In 2013, Cassomenos was a grand finalist and recipient of both the Second Grand Prize and Chamber Music Prize at the International Telekom Beethoven Piano Competition Bonn. He has been a grand finalist and prize winner in various other competitions.

Cassomenos has given solo recitals at many international venues and festivals, including Tonhalle Zurich, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Beethoven Festival Bonn, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Bunkamura Orchard Hall Tokyo, and Junge Stars der Klassik Kirchheimbolanden. Cassomenos now performs regularly in Australia, Germany and the UK.

Cassomenos’ compositions are commissioned and performed in Australia and overseas. He is a founding member of chamber ensemble PLEXUS, which since launching in 2014 has commissioned over 100 composers and premiered over 80 new works.

Cassomenos is active as an artistic director of various festivals, projects and collaborations. Cassomenos and violinist Monica Curro have recently been announced as Artistic Directors of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival from 2019.

Cassomenos is generously supported by Kawai Australia.

Timo-Veikko Valve

Cello

Timo-Veikko “Tipi” Valve is known as one of the most versatile musicians of his generation. He performs as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader on both modern and period instruments.

Valve studied at the Sibelius Academy in his home town of Helsinki and at the Edsberg Music Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, focusing on solo performance and chamber music.

Tipi works closely with a number of composers and has commissioned new works for the instrument. Most recently he has premiered concertos by Aulis Sallinen and Olli Virtaperko as well as two new cello concertos written for him by Eero Hämeenniemi and Olli Koskelin.

Valve has also premiered arrangements of Olli Mustonen’s Sonata for cello and chamber orchestra as well as an orchestrated version of the Debussy Cello Sonata.

In 2006, Valve was appointed Principal Cello of the Australian Chamber Orchestra with whom he frequently appears as a soloist. Valve also curates the ACO’s chamber music series in Sydney. Tipi is a founding member of Jousia Ensemble and Jousia Quartet.

Valve plays a Brothers Amati cello from 1616, kindly on loan from the ACO Instrument Fund.

Thomas Hutchinson

Oboe

New Zealand oboist Thomas Hutchinson was a winner of the 66th ARD competition in Munich in 2017, as well as the special prize for the best performance of the commissioned work by Thierry Escaish. Laureate of many other competitions and prizes, he won the Australian National Academy of Music Concerto Competition and Most Outstanding Recital Prize, and was awarded prizes in the New Zealand National Young Performer Awards and the Gisborne International Music Competition in New Zealand.

He has made numerous appearances as soloist, including with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchener Kammerorchester, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Bach Musica NZ, Orchestra Victoria, and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. He has also toured extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia playing chamber music and recitals.

In 2015 he was appointed to the position of associate principal oboe with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis and also began teaching at the Australian National Academy of Music, University of Melbourne, and the International Oboe Summer School in Wellington, New Zealand. Since then he has been invited to play guest principal oboe with orchestras in Australia and in Europe, including the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.

Thomas studied in Auckland and Melbourne before moving to Paris where he was unanimously admitted to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris to study with Jacques Tys and David Walter, graduating in 2015 with highest honours. He also received invaluable advice and teaching from Maurice Bourgue, Gordon Hunt, Diana Doherty and Jeffrey Crellin.

Yelian He

Cello

Hailed as a “consummate master of the bow” by The Strad magazine, Chinese-Australian cellist Yelian He is the winner of the 2009 Royal Over-Seas League String Competition in London and the Grand Prize and Audience Prize winner of the 2014 Australian Cello Awards competition in Sydney (now the Young Performer’s Awards).

He has appeared in concert at many venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bridgewater Concert Hall, City Recital Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Hamer Hall, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Brighton Festival, Deal Festival, Melbourne & Adelaide International Cello Festivals, Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and Woodend Winter Arts Festival.

Yelian was presented to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II in 2011 at a reception for outstanding Australians achievers in the UK and again in 2013 in a private performance for the Queen and her Commonwealth guests at Buckingham Palace.

Yelian’s nickname is the “Kung Fu Cellist”, and studies the Chinese martial art Wing Chun, made popular by Bruce Lee and the recent releases of the box office blockbuster “Ip Man” movies. Challenging what the recent and classic films have depicted, Yelian does not fly or has yet learned to break bricks with his head!

He is currently an adjunct professor at the United International College in Zhuhai, China, and plays on a cello made in 2018 by Yanbing Chen, as well as a cello by Hungarian luthier Adolphus Monnig made in 1877.

Christina Leonard

Saxophone

Born in regional New South Wales and now residing in Sydney, Christina Leonard is one of Australia’s leading classical Saxophonists. In addition to being Soprano Saxophonist with Continuum Sax, Australia’s foremost classical Saxophone Quartet, and Soprano Saxophonist and Co-Artistic Director of Compass the world music Saxophone Quartet, she also performs with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Australian World Orchestra, and is a featured soloist with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Her commitment to the presentation and advancement of classical Saxophone in the contemporary environment is evident in Christina’s extensive involvement in the arrangement, commissioning and concert promotion of the Saxophone in new and challenging contexts. She has made numerous recordings and live radio broadcasts, notably with ABC Classic FM and is the first Australian to be endorsed as an International Artist with Japanese instrument maker Yanagisawa.

Christina holds a post-graduate performance degree from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and a Master of Music Performance from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she lectures in Saxophone. She has premiered works by leading Australian composers including Gerard Brophy, Elena Kats-Chernin, Mary Finsterer, Tim Dargaville and Paul Stanhope, working collaboratively with them to fully explore the opportunities the Saxophone affords. Christina has also presented Australian premieres of works by important international composers including Elena Firsova, Franco Donatoni, Salvatore Sciarrino, Gavin Bryars, Perry Goldstein, Rolf Gehlhaar and Jacob TV. Her concurrent study of Baroque music practice has resulted in a wealth of her transcriptions and arrangements for Saxophone.

Christina has performed at the prestigious international new music forum ISCM, at the International Saxophone Congress in St Andrews, Scotland and the Australasian Clarinet and Saxophone Conferences in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Donald Armstrong

Violin

Born in Wellington, Donald Armstrong started early professional studies with the NZBC Orchestral Trainees (later the Schola Musica) and the NZ National Youth Orchestra.   He participated in the 1975 World Tour of the NZ National Youth Orchestra giving concerts in Scotland, England and China.  He joined the NZ Symphony Orchestra at the age of 19. Two years later, with an Arts Council Bursary and an Alex Lindsay Memorial Award Scholarship,  he completed a post-graduate diploma at Mannes College, New York, and a Masters degree at the New England Conservatory in Boston, studying violin with Masuko Ushioda and Josef Gingold, and chamber music with Louis Krasner, Eugene Lehner and Laurence Lesser.  As First Violin of the New England Conservatory Scholarship String Quartet, he won a special prize at the Concours International d’Évian held in France in 1982.

In 1983, Donald was appointed Principal Second Violin of the Tivoli Sinfoniorkester in Denmark and soon after became Concertmaster of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice in France. He returned to New Zealand in 1987 as Associate Concertmaster of the NZSO, a position he still holds. As Music Director of the NZ Chamber Orchestra from 1987 to 2004, his incisive leadership was a major force in creating the dynamic and exciting style of the NZCO heard both in live concert and on its many commercial recordings.

Donald continues his passion for chamber music and introducing musical challenges to musicians and audiences alike by performing regularly with his own chamber group, the Amici Ensemble, works for very small to large ensembles.  He recently substituted as first violinist with the NZ String Quartet on a tour to Australia.

Donald is interested in preserving and advancing New Zealand’s musical heritage. He has taught as an Artist Teacher at the New Zealand School of Music and he teaches, coaches and encourages young instrumentalists.  He plays a violin by Nicolo Gagliano of 1754.

Simon Oswell

Viola

Simon Oswell trained in Australia and the United States. He gained awards in the National Concerto Competition and co-founded the Petra String Quartet in Tasmania.  Simon has performed and recorded as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia, Europe and South East Asia and subsequently in the United States in the LA-based chamber music groups, Capitol Ensemble and Pacific Serenades. In California he occupied several Principal Viola positions including the Carmel Bach Festival, Mozart Classical Orchestra and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and recorded for the motion picture industry – approximately 800 film scores. He also performed with the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra and the American lutenist James Tyler.

Since returning to Australia, Simon has appeared as Principal Viola with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Tasmanian and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) and Australian World Orchestra. His chamber music collaborations have been with Ensemble Liaison, Firebird Trio, Wilma & Friends, Quartz, Trio Dali, and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. Recent highlights have included performances in the UK at the Oxford May Chamber Music Festival and the North York Moors Festival, and performances with the Australian World Orchestra with Zubin Mehta, in Sydney, Melbourne, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi. Simon currently teaches at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and directs an annual chamber music school, in Clunes, Victoria: www.clunesmusic.com.

Svetlana Bogosavljevic

Cello

Svetlana studied at the prestigious Special High School of the Tchaikovsky Conservatorium of Music, Moscow, the Peabody Conservatorium, Baltimore, and the Cologne Hochschule of Music where she graduated with a Soloists Diploma.


An avid chamber musician she appeared throughout Australia and New Zealand, along with performances at the KotorArt Festival in Montengro and the Novi Sad summer music series. In 2010 she appeared in Serbia with pianist Rita Kinka at the Novi Sad summer music concerts along with performances in Belgrade and on Serbian National television with pianist, Vladimir Milosevic. In 2012 she presented a recital and masterclass at the Belgrade International Cellofest. For 10 years, she has been most well-known in Melbourne as one-third of the charismatic chamber group, Ensemble Liaison.


Her performances are broadcast regularly on Australian radio and television along with the world-wide-web. She has held the position as Associate Principal Cello with the Rheinische Filharmonie, also appearing regularly with a wide range of ensembles including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, guest Principal Cello with Orchestra Victoria, the La Roche Quartet, the Prometheus Quartet, the Cologne Cello Sextet, the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Tippet Ensemble, the Arcadia Ensemble, Bamberger Symphoniker and the North German Radio Orchestra. She has performed at festivals such as the Melbourne International Festival, Kowmung Music Festival, Camden Haven Music Festival, the Dubrovnik Festival, the Belgrade festival and Musik Triennale, Cologne.


Svetlana teaches cello and chamber music at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University. She plays on a Joseph Panormo of London Cello from 1812.

Li Liu

Violin

Born in Beijing, Mrs Liu grew up in Auckland and Sydney. After graduating from Sydney Conservatorium with Prof. Goetz Richter, she furthered her studies in Berlin and Salzburg with world renowned artists including Igor Oistrakh, Pierre Amoyal and Wanda Wilkomirska.

Mrs Liu has given concerts throughout Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia and has appeared at prestige venues including the Berlin Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, Mozarteum Salzburg, Sydney Opera House, Beijing Concert Hall and Great Hall of the People, China.

Mrs Liu was the winner of the Auckland Philharmonia Young Artist Violin Competition in New Zealand, and prize-winner at the New Zealand Chamber Music Competition. She has appeared as a soloist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and the Auckland Youth Symphony Orchestra.

A passionate chamber musician, she has performed at renowned international festivals, including Salzburg Festival International Academy Austria, Shenyang International Music Festival China, Festival Pablo Casals France, Festival Goslar and Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Germany, Pacific Music Festival Japan and the Spring Music Festival New Zealand.

Mrs Liu was concertmaster of the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra and guest concertmaster with the East West Philharmonic Orchestra in Sydney. In Germany, she is frequently performing as a guest with the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, Deutsche Symphony Orchestra, Komische Opera Berlin, Chamber Academy Potsdam. In Australasia, she has performed with Sydney Symphony, Australian Opera, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony and New Zealand Chamber Orchestra.

A committed teacher and mentor, Ms Liu has taught at the University of Newcastle Conservatorium, and has given masterclasses in Australia, New Zealand and China.

Mrs Liu is a current member of the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra Berlin and resides in-between Brisbane, Beijing and Berlin.

Mariette Reefman

Viola

Mariette grew up surrounded by music. She and her five brothers were all taught piano and recorder by their mother from age five, each choosing one extra instrument to learn – Mariette chose violin and her eldest brother was her first teacher. Growing up she was part of her family’s recorder and string ensembles, and joined the local youth orchestra at age seven.

When Mariette was 14 she discovered a viola lying around the house and started learning it for fun, quickly discovering a love for the instrument and subsequently dropping her other instruments to seriously pursue viola. She joined the Sydney Youth Orchestras in 2007, a few months after starting viola, and remained there until her final year in 2014, in the role of principal viola.

Mariette completed a Bachelor of Music Studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (2011-2013), studying under Nikki Divall, and in 2018 completed her studies at the Australian National Academy of Music with Caroline Henbest. She attended the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy in 2018, and in 2019 she is an ACO Emerging Artist.

Mariette has performed with the Melbourne, Tasmanian and Canberra Symphony Orchestras, Elision Ensemble at BIFEM, Ensemble Modern, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, various AYO programs, and was principal viola for AISOI in 2014. She has played chamber music with the likes of Anthony Marwood, Dale Barltrop and Stefan Dohr, and in 2017 her quartet were finalists in the ANAM chamber music competition.  She has played in masterclasses for Lawrence Power, Igor Naidin, Julien Quentin, Ori Kam and various others.  She once had a 10 minute conducting lesson with Simone Young.

While classical music is her passion, Mariette also enjoys other music – she sings and plays in a folk-jazz fusion band with one of her brothers. She also loves cooking, coffee and fine whiskey.