Wilma Smith

In addition to being Artistic Director and violinist/violist of Wilma & Friends, now in its ninth season, Wilma has returned to her string quartet roots as 2nd violinist of the Flinders Quartet. She is Musica Viva’s Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and the new National Chamber Music Championship, while maintaining her teaching commitment at Melbourne University, Scotch College and Korowa Anglican Girls School.

Born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand, Wilma studied at Auckland University then in Boston at the New England Conservatory with Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner (chamber music). She was founding First Violinist of the Lydian Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award and multiple prizes at Evian, Banff and Portsmouth International String Quartet Competitions. In addition to regular work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she led the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra, the Harvard Chamber Orchestra, and Emmanuel Music.

Invited by Chamber Music New Zealand to establish a resident New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma returned to Wellington as its founding 1st violinist until her appointment as Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, a position she held for nine years until her appointment as Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. On leaving the NZSO, the orchestra honoured her with the title of Concertmaster Emeritus. While still with the MSO and since retiring in 2014, Wilma has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Queensland Festival Philharmonic and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, but her current focus is on chamber music and teaching.

Benjamin Baker

Violin

Since winning 1st Prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York and 3rd Prize at the Michael Hill Competition in New Zealand in 2017 Benjamin has established a strong international presence.

Recent highlights include a critically acclaimed debut at Merkin Concert Hall in New York, recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and regular appearances at Wigmore Hall.

Over the last year Benjamin has appeared as soloist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the East Neuk Festival, performed Beethoven’s Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra and recorded as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic and BBC Concert Orchestras.

He undertook tours of the USA, Colombia, China, Argentina and New Zealand, and in 2019 made his debut at the Sanguine Estate Music Festival in Australia and the Al Bustan Festival in Lebanon.

This season Benjamin records for Delphian and makes his debut with the Christchurch Symphony, RTE Concert, Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic, Simón Bolívar of Venezuela, and Albanian Radio Symphony Orchestras. He returns to the USA, Australia and Argentina.

Benjamin plays on a Tononi violin (1709) on generous loan.

Matthias Balzat

Cello

Matthias Balzat is a New Zealand born cellist and is currently 20 years old. He began playing the cello at the age of 3, and has completed his Bachelor of Music with Honours at the University of Waikato studying under James Tennant. He is currently doing his masters degree at the Robert Schumann Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf, Germany under Professor Pieter Wispelweij.

He has had much success in competitions in New Zealand and Germany, such as winning first prize in the 2013 New Zealand Chamber Contest, the National Concerto Competition in 2014, Young Performer of the Year and 2nd prize at the Gisborne International Music Competition in 2015. In 2016 he was awarded first prize in the International Wallace Cello Competition, and was part of the winning group of the Royal Over Seas League Scholarship. The prize entitled him and his piano trio to tour through the UK performing and having masterclasses. In 2017 he entered the National Concerto Competition again for the 50th celebration, and won the overall prize after competing against both strings and piano.

Earlier this year he received the first prize of the (Sieghardt Rometsch Wettbewerb) Robert Schumann university concerto competition.

He has performed in many different countries such as the USA, Germany, Austria, Australia, Fiji, and the UK, and has had the privilege of being the soloist for the Waikato University student orchestra, NZSSSO, Opus Orchestra, St Matthews Chamber Orchestra, CSO, NZSO NYO and the NZSO.

Eunise Cheng

Viola

Violist of the Partridge String Quartet, Eunise Cheng was born and raised in Perth where she first completed her undergraduate studies as the recipient of the Wesley Music Scholarship, Flora Bunning and Margaret Bello Memorial Prize. Upon relocating to Melbourne, Eunise achieved first class honours at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music under the Kate Flowers and Corinna D’Hage Mayer String Scholarship. Eunise then studied under Caroline Henbest at the Australian National Academy of Music in conjunction with the Queensland Conservatorium for her Masters. From her studies at these institutions, she has had masterclasses with Maxim Rysanov, Thomas Riebl, Lawrence Power and with members of the Jerusalem, Borodin, Alban Berg, Elias and Takacs String Quartets. Passionate about chamber music, Eunise has won several prizes in chamber music including the Musica Viva Prize, first prize of the ANAM Chamber Music Competition and Queensland International Chamber Music Competition as part of the Partridge String Quartet.

Dedicated to continually learning and exploring, some of Eunise’s highlights include selection for the AYO Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Fellowship, string quartet residency at the Banff Centre of Arts and Creativity mentored by the JACK, Eybler and Parker String Quartets and learning from the Dover and Doric String Quartet during the Musica Viva Festival under the AYO. At ANAM, this brought her to join the Australian World Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra for orchestral projects and chamber music with musicians from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian String Quartet, Goldner String Quartet, Paul Dean, Anthony Marwood, Stefan Dohr, Lloyd Van’t Hoff, Ariel Zuckermann and Dudu Carmel. She also has had the privilege to perform in projects directed by Richard Mills, Brett Dean, Nigel Westlake, Nicholas Alstaedt, Vilde Frang, Richard Tognetti and Erin Helyard. Eunise has since performed at major festivals in Australia including the Huntington Estate Music Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Four Winds Easter Music Festival and Port Fairy Spring Music Festival.

Michael Dahlenburg

Cello

Michael Dahlenburg is a sought after conductor, cellist, and teacher based in Melbourne, Australia. He studied cello with Howard Penny at the Australian National Academy of Music and Molly Kadarauch at the University of Melbourne–Conservatorium of Music.

As a cellist, Michael is in demand nationally and internationally as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral musician, recording artist and teacher. He has worked with international musicians such as Pekka Kuusisto, Steve Davislim, Li Wei Qin, Dale Barltrop, Andrew Haveron, Marisol Lee, Young Kwon Choi, Eoin Andersen, and William Hennessy. He has worked as a cellist and conductor with organisations such as the Australian String Quartet, Flinders Quartet, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, ACO2, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria. He is principal cellist of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and an AMEB cello examiner (probationary).

Michael was ACO’s Emerging Artist in 2008 and was a founding member of the acclaimed Hamer Quartet, that won First Prize, Grand Prize and Audience Prize at the 2009 Asia-Pacific Chamber Competition. In 2009 Hamer Quartet was named in ‘The Age’ magazines Top 100 Most Influential, and also named in Limelight magazine awards the same year as Best Newcomer. He has given performances at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world including Australia, UK, Italy, France, Germany, China, Spain, South Korea, and New Zealand. He has studied chamber music with Gerhard Schulz, Paul Katz, András Kellar, Heime Müller, Barbara Westphal, Hatto Beyerle, William Hennessy, Artemis, Tokyo, Jerusalem Quartets and many others. Michael is also member of ARTARIA, an ensemble with Celia Craig, Elizabeth Layton, Anne Horton and Caroline Henbest, whose debut CD launched in 2018 to critical acclaim.

Michael plays a 1780 J Charles donated by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, the Tallis Foundation, Hamer Family Fund, and other private donors. He would also like to thank Merv Dickey for commissioning his 2015 Ersen Aycan cello.

Michael studied conducting with John Hopkins at University of Melbourne and Maestro Christopher Seamen as a member of Symphony Services International, working with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia.

Michael has been a regular guest conductor of Melbourne Chamber Orchestra since 2012. He has also conducted the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, orchestras for arts organisations such as Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne Youth Orchestras, State Music Camp, Youth Philharmonic Melbourne, Corpus Medicorum, Stonnington Symphony, and Australian Medical Students Orchestra.

Maxwell Foster

Piano

Young Australian pianist, Maxwell Foster, is quickly becoming one of Australia’s most sought-after young artists. He has made concerto appearances with the Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, West Australia, Adelaide, Victoria, and Queensland Symphony orchestras, and has performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre and City Recital Hall Angel Place. Other past highlights include a recital in Parliament House for the Prime Minister and Senior Cabinet; and recitals in Shanghai and Oxford. This year he appeared as soloist with The Juilliard Orchestra premiering a contemporary composer’s work, as well as performing with the Australian Youth Orchestra.

Max enjoys collaborating with other like-minded musicians and delving into the realm of 21st Century music, performing many of his composer friends’ pieces. An involved music educator, he is a chamber music coach at Melbourne’s Scotch College, and has given educational concerts including a demonstration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with conductors such as Lutz Köhler, Jeffrey Milarsky, Vladimir Verbitsky, Alexandre Bloche and Richard Gill, and graduated from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Seymour Lipkin and Choong-mo Kang, Tema Blackstone and Hung-Kuan Chen. Max is currently continuing his studies with Blackstone and Chen at the Yale School of Music.

Lisa Grosman

Viola

Lisa Grosman is a member of the Fidelio Quartet and was the director of the viola programme at Monash University. She has recently been appointed Head of Strings at Camberwell Grammar School.

Lisa began learning Suzuki Method violin at the age of five, and went on to be the Concertmaster of the Australian Youth Orchestra. She studied with Alice Waten at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Australian Institute of Music before receiving a scholarship to study viola with Professor Bruno Giuranna at the University of Limerick, where she completed her Master of Arts in Classical String Performance.

For 15 years, Lisa was a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, during which time she toured extensively throughout Europe, America and Asia. Lisa was also the Director of Strings for the Irish Chamber Orchestra’s Education and Outreach Project, “Sing Out with Strings”; – an El Sistema inspired programme involving more than 300 children from under resourced communities.

Since returning to Australia, Lisa has performed with ensembles such as AWO, ACO, and MSO.

Lisa plays a viola made by Giuseppe Vignali, purchased with assistance from the E.V.Llewellyn Memorial Fund.

Nicholas Hancox

Viola

Nicholas joined the NZSO viola section in 2019 following almost seven years as principal violist of the Lübeck Philharmonic in Germany. His studies include a Concert Diploma from the School for Music and Theater in Munich with Hariolf Schlichtig, a Master of Music from the University of Michigan with Yizhak Schotten and a Bachelor of Music with honours from Victoria University with NZSQ violist, Gillian Ansell.

During his time overseas he participated in many festivals such as the Tanglewood Music Centre and Kneisel Hall (USA), Pacific Music Festival (Japan) as well as the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove (UK). As a chamber musician, he has given concerts in London, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Taiwan and tours for Chamber Music New Zealand and has collaborated with New Zealand composers Jack Body, Gareth Farr and Dylan Lardelli.

William Huxtable

Violin

For William Huxtable, a founding member and violinist of the Partridge String Quartet (PSQ), he has always had an interest and enjoyed performing in a diverse range of musical contexts.

He has been a student of Paul Wright at the University of Western Australia and has recently finished his studies at the Australian National Academy of Music with Dr. Robin Wilson. He has participated in masterclasses with violinists Alina Ibragimova, Tasmin Little and concertmasters Noah-Bendix Balgley (Berlin Philharmonic) and Roman Simovic (London Symphony Orchestra).

William has performed on radio on multiple occasions particularly on 3MBS Live Music Melbourne. As an avid fan of French music, it was a highlight to perform Debussy’s Violin Sonata live on ABC Classic with pianist Sine Winther in 2018. William is passionate about chamber music and as part of the PSQ he has performed at the Musica Viva Festival in Sydney and at the BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity. Earlier this year, the PSQ were joint winners of the Queensland International Chamber Music Competition and in October performed three concerts at the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. His chamber music performances at ANAM and at the Melbourne Recital Centre also include performing with musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic Matthew Mcdonald and Stefan Dohr, world-renowned pianists Imogen Cooper and Roy Howat and ANAM faculty Howard Penny and Timothy Young.

William was delighted to tour with the ACO in a side-by-side collaboration as an ANAM musician in 2018. He has since then been selected as an ‘Emerging Artist’ of the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) where he has toured and performed with ACO musicians such as Pekka Kuusisto and Helena Rathbone on several occasions this year.

William plays on a 2016 Yanbing Chen Violin

Find out more about William and the Partridge String Quartet at partridgestringquartet.com

Andrew Joyce

Cello

Before joining the NZSO in September 2010, Andrew spent five years freelancing in London, during which time he worked regularly with the London Symphony & London Philharmonic

Orchestras, touring and performing in the world’s great concert halls. He also played as Guest Principal with Northern Sinfonia, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. A dedicated chamber musician, Andrew co-founded the Puertas Quartet who have performed in both the UK and New Zealand to great critical acclaim and recorded two CDs for Atoll Records.

He performs regularly in a trio with pianist, Diedre Irons and NZSO Concertmaster, Vesa-Matti Leppanen.

Born in Norwich, England, at 11 he went to London to pursue his musical studies at the Purcell School of Music where his teachers were Amanda Truelove and Michal Kaznowski. He continued his studies at the Royal College of Music with Alexander Boyarsky and the Musikhochschule Lübeck with Troels Svane, as a holder of the coveted DAAD Scholarship.

He has performed in masterclasses with the late Bernard Greenhouse, Alexander Baillie, David Geringas, Alexander Rudin, Natalia Gutman, Karine Georgian, Leonid Gorokhov, the Takacs Quartet and the Kopelman Quartet. Violinist, and Artistic Director of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Gordan Nikolitch, also played a very important role in his artistic development and continues to be a source of inspiration.

He plays a beautiful old English cello by Thomas Dodd, c.1800, kindly loaned to him by Old and New Strings Ltd.

Jian Lu

Piano

Internationally celebrated pianist, Dr. Jian Liu, has performed throughout Europe, Asia, and North America, including prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Steinway Hall and as a featured soloist with orchestras in the US, Ukraine and New Zealand.

A prize-winner at Horowitz (Ukraine) and Missouri Southern (USA) international competitions, Jian has himself adjudicated several others. His performances are broadcast by KPHO public radio, CCTV (China), Suisse Romande Radio, Krakow Radio, and Radio New Zealand.

With Te Kōkī Trio, in residence at the New Zealand School of Music, Jian performs in Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand. He is a passionate educator, formerly at Yale University, and currently Programme Director of Classical Performance and Head of Piano Studies at the New Zealand School of Music. Jian has given master classes at the Central Conservatory of Music and Tianjin Conservatory of Music (China), Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (Israel), Rutgers University, Manhattan School of Music, Wellesley College and Arizona State University (USA), Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (Singapore), Krakow Academy of Music (Poland) and Sydney Conservatorium. He studied with Professor Jin Zhang from the Central Conservatory in Beijing and Dr. Caio Pagano at Arizona State University. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale School of Music, where he studied with and assisted Professor Claude Frank.

Laurence Matheson

Piano

From Melbourne, Laurence Matheson was involved in the Young ANAM program from 2005 to 2008. He won the junior section of the Yamaha Piano Competition in 2007 before winning the Dorothy Glover Piano Award in 2010. In 2013, he began full-time studies at the Australian National Academy of Music with Timothy Young as one of their youngest ever students and was selected as a Fellow of the Australian National Academy of Music in 2016 after winning the Directors’ Prize.  He is regularly broadcast on ABC Classic FM and 3MBS FM and has appeared as soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, the ANAM Orchestra, the Preston Symphony and the South Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has performed in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, with Opera Australia and as soloist with the Australian Ballet.

Laurence has a particular passion for chamber music, and has been involved in chamber projects with Paavali Jumppanen, the Aurora Ensemble, Anthony Marwood, and Kathy Stott. Festival appearances include the Brisbane Baroque, 4MBS and Melbourne Festivals, while he has given recitals at the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Utzon Room series of the Sydney Opera House, and his regular duo partners include Sophie Rowell, Lloyd van’t Hoff, Stewart Kelly, Suyeon Kang and Tim Young.

He is a mentor and pianist for many of Australia’s top violinists including the winner of the 2018 Junior International Menuhin Violin Competition, Christian Li and 2019 Il Piccolo Violino Magico Competition winner Edward Walton. He is also an accomplished harpsichordist with festival and radio appearances across the country, has directed the ANAM Orchestra and was commissioned to write for Victorian Opera’s 2012 production of Cinderella during composition studies with the
late Richard Gill.

In 2020 he appears with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Australia Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria and the Australian Ballet as well as in recital with some of Australia’s finest musicians and at the Music by the Springs festival.


Mana Ohashi

Violin

Violinist Mana Ohashi was born and raised in Melbourne. She commenced violin lessons at the age of three through the Suzuki Method with teacher Kim Bishop, and recently graduated from the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) where she studied for three years with Dr. Robin Wilson. Upon graduation she was selected to be an Emerging Artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and has since embarked on tours of regional Australia led by Pekka Kuusisto and Helena Rathbone.

Mana was selected as a member of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy in 2018, which saw her travel to Germany where she performed within the ensemble and received mentorship from its core members.

During her studies at ANAM, Mana was awarded the Athenaeum Club Prize for her performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto at the ANAM Concerto Competition and also enjoyed leading the ANAM orchestra on several occasions working under conductors such as Douglas Boyd and Antonio Mendez. During her studies there she also had the privilege of receiving solo guidance from musicians including James Ehnes, Henning Kraggerud, Alina Ibragimova and Roman Simovic.

Mana has also enjoyed many successes a violinist and founding member of the Partridge String Quartet, formed in 2016 at ANAM. In 2017, they were recipients of the Musica Viva Prize at the ANAM Chamber Music Competition and were first prize winners of the competition in the following year. In 2019 they were also joint first prize winners at the Queensland International Chamber Music Competition. She, as a part of the quartet has received chamber music mentorship from members of the Australian String Quartet, Dover, Parker, JACK, Jerusalem and Alban Berg string quartets and were scholarship recipients to participate in the EQ Evolution of the String Quartet program in Banff, Canada.

Since November of 2019 Mana has been based in Munich where she is continuing her studies under Prof. Mi-kyung Lee at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München.

Phoebe Russell

Double bass

Double bassist Phoebe Russell enjoys a career as an active soloist, performer and educator. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Phoebe Russell studied at the Australian National Academy of Music under the tutelage of Damien Eckersley. At the age of 17, she moved to Berlin and within months made her debut in the esteemed double bass section of the Berlin Philharmonic. A graduate of Berlin Philharmonic’s Karajan Academy, Phoebe Russell has performed in more than 20 countries across the globe with some of the world’s leading orchestras. The last few years have seen her perform with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, among others.

In 2017, Phoebe Russell was appointed Principal Double Bass of Queensland Symphony Orchestra and is regularly invited to orchestras as a guest principal. She has been invited to perform as Principal Double Bass with many Australian symphony orchestras, and has most recently returned from a Europe tour leading the double bass section of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. She has had the privilege of working under several world class conductors, some personal favourites including Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Andris Nelsons, Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta.

An avid soloist, Phoebe Russell is regularly invited to perform as recitalist in Australia and abroad including to a full house in the Berlin Philharmonic lunch concert series. She has performed as soloist with orchestras including the Tasmanian and Canberra Symphony Orchestras, the Baden Baden Philharmonic and 2019 will see her perform Bottesini Concerto with Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Phoebe Russell is an active member of Ensemble Q, one of Australia’s most dynamic new ensembles and enjoys an engaging schedule of chamber music collaborations in Brisbane and around the country with world class musicians.

Parallel to her busy performance schedule, Phoebe Russell is a passionate educator and is the lecturer in double bass at The University of Queensland and a faculty member of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. She has coached the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp, given classes at the Guildhall School of Music in London, the Melbourne and Sydney Conservatoriums of Music, the Australian National Academy of Music and at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.