2023 Artists

Wilma Smith
Wilma SmithViolin
Following a long and celebrated career as Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Wilma now focuses on chamber music and guest-performing opportunities with the Australian and New Zealand orchestras. She plays regularly with the Australian World Orchestra, relishing the opportunity to work with distinguished conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle and Zubin Mehta.

Born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand, Wilma studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston with Dorothy DeLay (violin) and Louis Krasner (chamber music). She was founding First Violinist of the Lydian Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music and multiple prizes at Evian, Banff and Portsmouth International String Quartet Competitions. She also worked regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and led the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra and the Harvard Chamber Orchestra before returning to New Zealand as founding First Violinist of the New Zealand String Quartet.

In addition to being curator/violinist of Wilma & Friends, now entering its twelfth season, Wilma has returned to her string quartet roots as Second Violinist of the Flinders Quartet. She is also Musica Viva Australia’s Artistic Director of Competitions, overseeing the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and Strike A Chord, the Australian national chamber music competition for secondary school students. Enjoying active connections across the ditch, Wilma is Co-Artistic Director of the annual Martinborough Music Festival and is on the Board of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Matthias Balzat
Matthias BalzatCello
Although New Zealand remains the place of birth and childhood to him, Matthias is a well traveled cellist, and a frequent conspirator of musical shenanigans since the spritely age of three. After over two decades of assimilating the four-stringed beast, his passion for the cello has only grown, and his odyssey to bring what approximates the sound of music to the stage, ever prolonged. His relationship to music was a natural affair, growing up in a household with six bundles of musical talent older than he, and with of course the two remarkable facilitators of it all. The nine of them together played and toured the globe, entertaining the worlds of Folk, Celtic and beyond, before separately pursuing varying paths of profession and livelihood.
Sally-Anne Brown was the first of the legends to ignite the wick and guide him through the madness of the classical music world. Next came James Tennant, the fierce and fluffy, who never settled for good, rather pushed the boundaries beyond their limits. It was with him that Matthias graduated at the University of Waikato with his Bachelor degree at the age of seventeen. World renowned Pieter Wispelwey, the untameable, is the current culprit for feeding the fire, as Matthias continues his studies at the Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf.
Matthias can be found on stage throughout Europe, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and more, and is a seasoned performer as both a soloist and chamber musician, performing a large repertoire including several contemporary works commissioned for him. He is also a member of the Ares Trio, along with two absolute warriors, Andrea D’amato, Piano, and Carlotta Malquori, Violin. 
Zoë Black
Zoë BlackViolin
Zoe Black is a violinist’s violinist, known for her beauty of sound and natural virtuosity. In 1989 she won the National Youth Concerto Competition and in 1991, the string section of the ABC Young Performers Awards.
After graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1992, Zoë was awarded grants from the Australia Council and Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Trust as well as the major performance award of the Australian Music Foundation in London, which facilitated her studies at the Guildhall School of Music under David Takeno and subsequently at the Vienna Hochschule with Michael Schnitzler.
Zoë was appointed assistant leader of Australian Chamber Orchestra in 1993, touring the world extensively. A committed chamber musician, in 2005 Zoë co- founded the Freshwater Trio with whom she toured nationally and internationally. She has also performed as soloist with various chamber and symphony orchestras and is a regular guest concert master with MSO & QSO.
Zoë returned to the ACO in 2012 in a part time capacity, where she regularly led the ACO Collective, performed as soloist and was an integral component of their educational programme. More recently, Zoë was a guest leader of the Australian String Quartet in 2016, performing at Festivals in Victoria, WA and in Italy (Rome, Venice and Cremona).
In 2011 Zoë co -founded the innovative duo with pianist/composer Joe Chindamo. The duo has performed at all the major festivals in Australia and recorded 3 ARIA nominated CDs, (RE-IMAGININGS , DIDO’S LAMENT and their re-versioning of the THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS, premiering the latter at Carnegie Hall in 2015. The duo made their debut Italian performance at the Spinacorona Festival in Naples, at the invitation of renowned pianist, Michele Campanella in 2018.
A passionate teacher and tutor, Zoë is on faculty at the Australian National Academy of Music, where, along with her duo partner Joe Chindamo, she will be also conducting a residency in late 2022.
“Everything Zoe Black touches turns to gold.” Francis Merson, musician and editor of limelight Magazine.
Calvin Bowman
Calvin BowmanComposer and keyboardist
Dr Calvin Bowman studied organ with John O’Donnell, and piano with Donald Thornton at the University of Melbourne. He undertook further studies at Yale University with the assistance of a Fulbright scholarship, and was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2005.

He has presented three performances of the complete Bach organ works in public; in 1995, in 2009 for the Melbourne International Festival, and in 2022 for MONA FOMA.

In 2001, he re-opened the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ by presenting the world premiere performance of Voices by Philip Glass in the composer’s presence.

Dr Bowman’s most popular song, Now Touch the Air Softly, was recorded by Emma Matthews with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon/ABC Classics. Recent performances of his songs have taken place at the Musikverein and the Elbphilharmonie.

Dr Bowman is an exclusive Decca/UMA artist. His debut discs of artsong entitled Real and Right and True were released in 2018.

He is currently Director of Music at St Andrew’s, Brighton.

Caroline Henbest
Caroline HenbestViolin
Caroline Henbest is a violist and Feldenkrais Practitioner based in Melbourne, Australia.

She performs as a chamber musician, soloist, and extra player in the MSO and enjoys regular appearances at festivals such as the Stradbroke Island Chamber Music Festival and Music by the Springs. Since 2015 she has been Resident Viola Faculty at the Australian National Academy of Music.

As well as the viola, Caroline also loves to play the violin, though generally with friends who don’t earn their living as performers. Her love of music-making with community musicians came from her father, a passionate amateur violinist, violist and cellist. Working with non-professional musicians, and reading chamber music with friends who love to play for fun brings another dimension to her musical life. Caroline has taught on many occasions at the Mount Buller Chamber Music Summer School, a residential camp for chamber music lovers from the community.

Early in her career she was violist in the Mistry Quartet and performed with many UK based chamber orchestras and ensembles.. She has acted as guest principal with the SSO, MSO and TSO, as well as the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Philharmonia, City of London Sinfonia, Glyndebourne on Tour, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Caroline moved to Australia form England in 1993 to be Principal Viola with the ACO. She was a full-time member for eight years and a part-time member for ten.
Her teachers at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Guildhall School of Music & Drama included Robert Masters, David Takeno & Hans Keller Caroline’s recent Master of Music Research degree (Griffith) explored creative collaboration through composition and performance.

Tom Higham
Tom HighamViola
Tom Higham began his musical studies on the piano when he was five, before taking up the viola aged nine in Western Australia. He completed his Bachelor of Music at the University of Western Australia in 2010 before studying at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne from 2011-2014 under Caroline Henbest and Christopher Moore. During the course of his studies, Tom
won multiple prizes in chamber music, including an ARIA award for “Conversations with Ghosts,” a project with Paul Kelly, James Ledger and Genevieve Lacey. He has collaborated with renowned classical artists such as Johannes Moser, Nicolas Alstaedt and Anthony Marwood, and major international acts such as Adele, London Grammar, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John and Andrea Bocelli.

Tom is currently Associate Principal Viola with Orchestra Victoria, has worked with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, as guest Associate Principal Viola with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Kammerphilharmonie Köln and has twice been a member of the Melbourne Ring Orchestra for Wagner’s Ring Cycle. He also enjoys an active role in the Australian chamber music scene, having performed on multiple occasions at the Mackay and Hepburn Springs festivals as well as with the Flinders String Quartet and Melbourne Chamber Players.

In addition to his classical performing commitments Tom also plays in a band and is a keen audio engineer, in recent years launching a business offering recording and mixing services around Melbourne across a broad range of musical genres.

Laurence Matheson
Laurence MathesonPiano
One of Australia’s most exciting young musicians, Laurence Matheson is in demand across the country as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborative pianist. He studied at the Australian National Academy of Music with Timothy Young as one of their youngest ever students and became a Fellow of the Academy in 2016 after winning the Directors’ Prize.
Laurence is regularly broadcast on ABC Classic and 3MBS FM, and has appeared as soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria and the Australian Ballet, as well as in recital at the Melbourne Recital Centre and Sydney Opera House. His festival appearances include the Bendigo, Dunkeld, Brisbane Baroque, Music by the Springs and Melbourne Festivals and he was invited to perform alongside many of Australia’s greatest musicians at the Melbourne Recital Centre’s 10th Anniversary Gala concert. He records for Decca Classics and ABC Classic.

Laurence has a particular passion for chamber music and has performed with the Aurora Ensemble, Anthony Marwood, the Australian String Quartet and Kathryn Stott, while his regular duo partners include Suyeon Kang, Grace Clifford, Dale Barltrop, Sophie Rowell, and Tim Young. He is also a mentor and pianist for many of Australia’s promising young violinists, including Decca Artist Christian Li and Edward Walton, as well as appearing in recital with some of Australia and the world’s top musicians.

Aside from piano, Laurence has also play-directed multiple concerto projects from the keyboard, is an accomplished harpsichordist and was commissioned to write for Victorian Opera’s 2012 production of Cinderella during studies with Richard Gill.

Christopher Moore
Christopher MooreViola
Christopher studied piano and violin before he discovered his passion lay in the rich harmonic and rhythmic complexities of the inner voices – so he bought a viola and the rest is history. After ten years as Principal Viola of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, he is now Principal Viola of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and is in high demand as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia and abroad. He currently holds the position of Creative Producer of Melbourne Symphony’s chamber music programs, including the conductor-free Melbourne Recital Centre concerts. His musical home is often filled with the sounds of his talented family who all play instruments and sing. Christopher also plays Theremin. If you don’t know what that is, just ask him.

Christopher is fortunate enough to play on a 1610 Giovanni Paolo Maggini viola – kindly on loan from an anonymous benefactor. He also owns a wonderful 1937 Arthur E. Smith which isn’t for sale, but you could borrow it if you promise to look after it.

Alexandra Partridge
Alexandra PartridgeCello
Alexandra Partridge is a versatile cellist with a vast portfolio of performances and tours both nationally and abroad. After completing a Masters of Music at the New Zealand School of Music, Alexandra studied at the Australian National Academy of Music with Howard Penny. Shortly after her studies, Alexandra won a position with the Hyogo Performing Arts Orchestra in Osaka, Japan. Since returning to Melbourne in late 2018, she has had a thriving freelancing career and has toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra as well as performing with other leading orchestras across Australasia including holding a contract as Assistant Principal with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Alexandra is also passionate about chamber music and collaborating with other artists. Recent highlights include being a festival artist at the Warren Chamber Music Festival, Mackay Chamber Music Festival, Martinborough Music Festival and the inaugural ‘At the World’s Edge Festival’ in New Zealand. She has also had the opportunity to perform alongside Placido Domingo, Jacob Collier, Neil Finn, Michael Bublé and Hugh Jackman. Alexandra plays on a A.S.P Bernadel cello (1838) generously loaned to her by a private benefactor.
Timo-Veikko Valve
Timo-Veikko ValveCello
Timo-Veikko ‘Tipi’ Valve grew up in Helsinki, surrounded by a family who were “musical, but not musicians” and who wanted music lessons to be a part of their children’s lives. Tipi was encouraged to pick up the cello because one of the teachers at the local music school, upon seeing him as a toddler, declared that he “looks like a cellist!” Tipi is still not sure what this actually means.

Valve was appointed as the Principal Cello of the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2006. He describes playing with a small, tightly-knit community of people as the natural habitat for someone with his musical personality. Tipi says the close relationship he formed with his ACO colleagues, old and new, was instant.
Tipi performs on modern and period instruments and describes the cello as flexible and adaptive, both in its role in an ensemble and as a soloist across all forms of music. Tipi reflects this versatility and enjoys a varied career as a musician, play-directing from the cello and appearing as a soloist with many of the major orchestras across his two home countries, Finland and Australia. He also has an active interest in new music, having commissioned and premiered concertos and other works written specifically for him.

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

Timothy Young
Timothy YoungPiano
Australian pianist Timothy Young is a much sought after recitalist, soloist and chamber musician performing regularly in Australia’s major festivals. His versatility and large repertoire has seen him forge a career as a pianist that highlights the eclectic nature of the instrument itself. As a concerto soloist he has performed with the Australian World Orchestra, the MSO, the MCO and play/directing the ANAM orchestra. As a regular recitalist with prominent instrumentalists and singers his experience and repertoire is extensive. A founding member of Ensemble Liaison, he has composed and made countless arrangements for their ‘Ensemble Liaison and Friends’ annual series. His recordings on numerous labels include Decca UK, ABC Classics, Heritage Records UK, Tall Poppies, MOVE records, Melba Records and EL Records. Timothy is also a passionate educator and is Head of Piano at ANAM where he has been resident faculty for over 21 years, teaching and training Australia’s and New Zealand’s most talented young musicians.