Wilma Smith

Wilma Smith is Musica Viva’s Artistic Director of Competitions, Second Violinist of the Flinders Quartet, curator/violinist/violist of Wilma & Friends, Guest Concertmaster of orchestras throughout Australia and New Zealand, a regular player with the Australian World Orchestra and a committed teacher.

Born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand, Wilma studied in the US with the legendary Dorothy DeLay. She was founding first violinist of the Lydian Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award and prizes at Evian, Banff and Portsmouth International String Quartet Competitions. She worked regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Invited by Chamber Music New Zealand to return home to establish the New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma was first violinist until her appointment as concertmaster of the NZSO and then the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Since retiring from the MSO, Wilma has prioritised her chamber music roots, enjoying old and new collaborations in the US and New Zealand as well as Australia. With her old friend, Victoria Jones, she is Co-Artistic Director of the annual Martinborough Music Festival.

Wilma plays a 1761 Guadagnini violin and occasionally a fine Chinese viola.

Rachel Atkinson

Cello

Rachel Atkinson is the cellist of the Fidelio Quartet and the Head of the Music Academy at Camberwell Grammar School. In 2019 the Fidelio Quartet completed their three-year Melbourne Beethoven Quartet Cycle to great critical acclaim. Rachel has performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, regularly recorded for the ABC and taught at University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts.

She studied cello with Georg Pedersen at the Sydney Conservatorium and with David Strange, Lynn Harrell and with members of the Amadeus Quartet at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She continued her studies with William Pleeth with a QEII Arts Council Grant.

She has given the premieres of many contemporary works and has appeared as solo recitalist and chamber musician in New Zealand, Britain, Turkey, Germany, Holland, Canada, Israel and Malaysia.

In the mid-nineties, Rachel was the cellist of Trio Melbourne.

From 2008 – 2012, Rachel was the Artistic Director of Nefes Ensemble, performers of music from the Baroque and Classical periods of the Ottoman Court. The ensemble appeared at the Adelaide and Melbourne Festivals, and broadcast for ABC Classic FM. She was also Musical Director of a collaboration with the Victorian Opera, performing her arrangement of The Play of Daniel for Ottoman instrumentation.

Anthony Chataway

Viola

Anthony Chataway, unlike most violists, began the viola at the age of nine without learning violin beforehand. After graduating from St Peter’s College in Adelaide, South Australia, where he was Captain of Music and recipient of the Evans Music Award in 2007, he attended the Elder Conservatorium where he studied with Keith Crellin and was awarded his degree with first class honours as well as The Director’s Award in 2011 for outstanding leadership.

Since then he has studied at The Australian National Academy of Music under the tutelage of Caroline Henbest and Chris Moore. Anthony has been principal viola of the Adelaide Youth Orchestra and the Elder Conservatorium Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. He has performed in The Australian Youth Orchestra, Momentum Ensemble, Sydney Sinfonia, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra and has performed chamber music with The Brodsky Quartet, Anthony Marwood, Paul Dean, Toby Lea, Tobias Breider among others. As well as his permanent position with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Anthony is a member of Penny Quartet, an emerging voice in the Australian music scene. Anthony has regularly performed solo recitals around Melbourne and Regional Victoria – as well as frequent guest appearances with the Melbourne based Trad. Jazz Band “The Knock Offs.”

In his spare time Anthony enjoys cryptic crosswords, knitting and is a self-confessed cricket tragic.

Molly Collier-O’Boyle

Viola

Molly Collier-O’Boyle (aka Molly Cob) is a musician currently living and working in Naarm (Melbourne). She spends most of her time plucking, picking and sawing away on her viola, cursing all the while. When not screaming profanities at wooden boxes, she attempts to balance her life as a curator, educator and performer.

Born in sticky Brisbane (Australia), Molly grew up in a musical household playing folk violin and jazz and funk electric bass guitar. After realising that classical music was also pretty cool, she spent five years learning all about it at university and was awarded some pieces of fancy paper for her violin studies with Michele Walsh at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and Adam Chalabi at the University of Queensland. After this, Molly wound up with a viola in her hand studying under Caroline Henbest at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Molly has been Principal Viola of the Australian Youth Orchestra, a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (US), an emerging artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and an academist with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (Germany). She freelances with most Australian orchestras and has also played in a number of chamber music festivals around the country.

The beginning of 2021 sees Molly in the role of Acting Assistant Principal Viola for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. She is also excited about continuing to explore a diverse range of chamber works with the Rathdowne Quartet as well as alongside Liam Wooding (pianist) in her duo project Cow.

Tair Khisambeev

Violin

In 2011 graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, in 2014 finished post-graduate courses (class of People’s Artist of the USSR, Professor Eduard Grach).

Laureate of national and international competitions:

− VI-th Andrey Korsakov All-Russian Open Competition for Young Violinists, Tver, 2005;

− International Competition for the bow string instruments “Teacher and student”, Moscow, 2006;

− V-th Yampolsky International Violin Competition, Moscow, 2009;

− Malta International Music Competition, Mdina, 2015.

Member of international festivals: “Creative youth of Moscow Conservatory”, “Moscow Autumn”, “Art-November”, the Spivakov International Foundation, “New Names” (Russia), “Eurythmie. Sieben Worte” (Switzerland), Jeunesses Musicales – (Croatia), etc..

Took part in masterclasses held by Zakhar Bron, Irina Svetlova, Anton Barakhovsky and many others.

From 2011 to 2016 – 1st violin in Piano Quintet, formed in the class of People’s Artist of Russia, Professor Alexander Bonduryansky. In 2012, the quintet received the I prize and the Grand Prix at the International Competition “Pietro Argento” in Italy. In the same year the ensemble was awarded the Grand Prix at the T.A.Gaydamovich International Chamber Music Competition, Magnitogorsk. In 2013 quintet won the 1st prize at the N.Rubinshtein International Competition of Chamber Ensembles (Moscow). The ensemble performed regularly in concerts in Moscow and other cities.

From 2001 to 2006 – an artist, and in 2006 – concertmaster of the Youth Chamber Orchestra “Gnessin Virtuosi”.

From 2006 to 2010 – principal of 2 violins section in Chamber Orchestra “Moskovia”.

From 2010 to 2016 – Artist in 1 violins section in Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra “Evgeny Svetlanov”.

From 2016 to 2019 – Vorspieler in Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, Japan.

From 2019 – Assistant Concertmaster in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Wenhong Luo

Viola

Violist Wenhong Luo is the 3rd prize winner at the 12th Lionel Tertis Viola competition and the 19th Johannes Brahms competition. After making her debut in China with the China broadcast symphony orchestra at the age of 16, playing the Walton Viola concerto, she moved to London and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. At the age of 22, she moved to the States and began her studies at the New England Conservatory of Music. Her performances have been recorded on Linn records and Naxos. In 2018, she participated in the prestigious “Chamber Music Connects the World” at Kronberg, where she collaborated with Andries Schiff, Steve Isserlis, and Christian Tetzlaff. Other artists that she has collaborated with are Laurence Lesser, Miriam Fried, Paul Biss, Soovin Kim, Midori Goto, and Maxim Vengrov.

A native of Beijing, China, Wenhong just joined the Faculty of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music in 2020, after studying with Kim Kashkashian at the New England Conservatory of Music as a doctoral candidate.

She devotes herself to both solo and chamber music playing, and with the great passion on delivering the music to different communities, she is an artist of the “music for food” organization in Boston, and have been on tour with Midori Goto to Nepal and Japan being part of the “music sharing” program.

Charlotte Miles

Cello

Born in 2002, Melbourne-based cellist Charlotte Miles is currently completing her third year of training with Howard Penny at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), in addition to her second-year Bachelor of Music (BMus) studies at the University of Melbourne.

In recent years, Charlotte has shared the glorious cello repertoire with local and international audiences in solo recitals, at cello festivals, and in concerto performances with orchestras. She has travelled widely for masterclasses, competitions, and ensemble tours to Los Angeles, New York, London and Zurich, and throughout Germany, China, France, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand (including extensive performances with the Australian Youth Orchestra), learning to speak the international language of music with as many accents as possible.

Charlotte has benefitted from masterclasses with cellists including Wolfgang Emmanuel Schmidt, Maria Kliegel, David Geringas, Johannes Goritski, Wen-Sinn Yang, Li-Wei Qin, David Finckel and Alban Gerhardt. She has given invited performances at the Sanguine Estate Music Festival and the Melbourne Cello Festival, in addition to the prestigious 2016 Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles, where she performed in a 100-cello ensemble alongside leading cellists such as Mischa Maisky, Truls Mørk, Brannon Cho, Zlatomir Fung, Sol Gabetta and Giovanni Sollima.

Awarded over 100 competition prizes, Charlotte has performed at Carnegie Hall (New York) and Opera Bastille (Paris) in prize-winner concerts for international competitions. She has won numerous concerto competitions, and was a major prize-winner at the 2018 Gisborne (NZ) International Music Competition, and the 2020 “Anna Kull” International Cello Competition in Graz (Austria). In 2019, Charlotte was the 3MBS Young Performer of the Year and winner of the National Young Virtuoso Award. Charlotte has performed on 3MBS, 4MBS, 5MBS and ABC Classic radio stations, and has been featured on The Violin Channel.

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.

James Morley

Cello

James Morley grew up in Adelaide studying with Hilary Kleinig, Janis Laurs, and Rachel Johnston. He studied on scholarship at Sydney Conservatorium with Julian Smiles, and is currently training at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) with Howard Penny.

James was a finalist for the 2020 Freedman Fellowship Award. He won the Audience Choice award in the 2019 ANAM Concerto Competition, and in the same year was awarded ANAM’s highest honour for chamber music and the Outstanding First-Year Prize, followed by the prize for Most Outstanding Recital in 2020. James has performed solo with Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Youth Orchestra, Sydney Youth Orchestra Wind Orchestra, and Ensemble Apex. He has been a semi-finalist in the Gisborne International Music Competition and a finalist in the Sydney Conservatorium Concerto Competition.

James has performed with the Australian Youth Orchestra many times, including as Principal Cello for many of their programs, and with AYO’s Momentum Ensemble. Whilst based in Sydney, James was also Principal Cello of Ensemble Apex. In 2019, James was an Emerging Artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Formed in 2019, James is a founding member of the Rathdowne Quartet, and is also a member of the Butcherbird Quartet. With both of these ensembles, James has participated in international schools and festivals, and several unique performances at home. James is also a founding member of Continuo Continuum, an Adelaide-based early music ensemble.

James is passionate about modern music, and has closely collaborated with many composers. Commissions for 2021 include new solo cello works by Liza Lim, Josephine Macken, and Johannes MacDonald. James has premiered works for Extended Play Festival, Ensemble Apex, and various other initiatives, mostly with an electro-acoustic focus. James has also been accepted for the 2021 Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra.

Richard Narroway

Cello

Praised by Gramophone Magazine for his “captivating sensitivity” and “exhilarating authority,” Australian cellist Richard Narroway enjoys an international career as a sought-after performer, recording artist, and teacher. He has given performances across Australia, North America, Europe, and Asia, in prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Center, Koerner Hall, and the Sydney Opera House. As a result of his stylistic versatility, innovative programming, and wide-ranging musical pursuits, Richard has earned an international reputation as one of his generation’s most notable artists.

In 2017, Richard made his recording debut with Bach’s Six Cello Suites, released to international acclaim. In addition, he has achieved top prizes at several major competitions, including the 2010 Stulberg International String Competition, the Third Beijing International Cello Competition, and the Australian Youth Classical Music Competition. Deeply committed to community engagement and innovation, he takes a particular interest in devising projects that bring classical music to a wider audience.

Richard earned degrees from the Juilliard School and Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, before completing a Doctorate at the University of Michigan, where he also served as teaching assistant. Currently, Richard is Lecturer in Cello at the prestigious Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne.

Ruby Shirres

Viola

Ruby Shirres is a violist hailing from Central Victoria and currently training under Caroline Henbest at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).

Having participated in programs as well as national and international tours with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Australian Youth Orchestra, Ruby has fostered a love of ensemble playing. As a chamber musician, Ruby has been a finalist and Musica Viva Prize-winner in three ensembles over two years in ANAM’s Chamber Music Competition and was invited to participate in the 2020 Evolution of the String Quartet at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada.

When not playing, you’ll find Ruby with a camera in hand, walking in the bush or baking something delicious.

Curt Thompson

Violin

Violinist Curt Thompson serves as Associate Professor and Head of Strings at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. He is Founder and Executive Director of the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, which will celebrate its 24th season in Fort Worth, Texas in 2021. Prior teaching appointments include the TCU School of Music and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Thompson performs throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia as concerto soloist, recitalist, concertmaster, and chamber musician in such prestigious venues as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Salle Gaveau, Teatro Naçional de Costa Rica and the Shanghai Concert Hall. Concerto appearances include the Qingdao Symphony, Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra, the symphonies of Corpus Christi, San Angelo, Las Colinas, Irving, Garland, and the Texas Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Thompson has been a featured artist in the Copland/Shostakovich Festival (Rio de Janeiro), the Festival de Primavera (Oaxaca, Mexico), the Seventh Centennial Festival of Villarobledo, and Inter-Harmony International Music Festival (Hinterzarten, Germany). As Concertmaster, Curt has appeared with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra (Italy). Master class appearances include the Royal Academy of Music, The Juilliard School, and Beijing Central Conservatory.

Thompson’s highly acclaimed recording of the violin sonatas by Charles Ives (Naxos) is regularly broadcast worldwide. It was hailed by The New York Times as a “Critics’ Favourite,” and described as “…a hole in one perfectly demonstrating Ives’ spicy, earthy rawness and appeal….” In 2016 Gramophone named the CD one of the all-time “Top 10 Ives Recordings” alongside those by the New York Philharmonic (with Leonard Bernstein) and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, stating that of the recordings of the violin sonatas, “…this is now the version to choose….”

Thompson holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rice University. His principal teachers included Nelli Shkolnikova and Sergiu Luca.