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. She then became 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 she took up the same position with the MSO from 2003 to 2014. In addition to her chamber music series, Wilma & Friends, now in its eighth season, Wilma has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with SSO, WASO, TSO, ASO, OV and APO, and teaches at the University of Melbourne, Scotch College and Korowa Anglican Girls School. In 2016, she was appointed Artistic Director of the Melbourne Chamber Music Competitions by Musica Viva.
Elinor Lea Co-Artistic Director
An internationally acclaimed artist, Ms Lea has played in the world’s great music centres, performing in the Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Berlin Schauspielhaus and the Franz Liszt Hall. Growing up in Adelaide, Ms Lea’s remarkable musical talents were rewarded when she was 19 by an offer from the celebrated Australian String Quartet to join them as a permanent member.
With the ASQ, apart from the extensive touring, Ms Lea recorded frequently for such labels as Naxos and ABC Classics. The repertoire represented in these recordings is not only the standard classics of chamber music but also an incredible volume of works by Australian composers. For her contributions to Australian culture, Ms Lea has been awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for Advancement of Music as well as the Advance Australia Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Arts. Based in Hobart, Tasmania since 1998, Ms Lea has continued to enrich the Tasmanian community with concerts, broadcasts and recordings. For 20 years she was the Associate Concertmaster of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Ms Lea’s sound has been described by Limelight Magazine as “…thrillingly suspenseful…painful in its beauty and with fantastic textural contrasts”. Possessing an innate musical versatility Ms Lea comfortably shifts from her role in the TSO to soloist and to chamber musician.
Tobias Lea Viola
Born in Adelaide, Tobias Lea is one of a family of three musicians. His twin brother
Benedict is a violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and his sister Elinor began her professional career as second violinist with the Australian String Quartet, a post she held for nine years. Elinor is currently Associate Concertmaster of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Tobias received his early music education from the Flinders Street School of Music in Adelaide. Aged 12 he began violin studies with Ronald Woodcock at the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide.
During his studies for his Bachelor of Music (Performance) degree, Tobias worked with the South Australian Opera Orchestra and as a casual member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He graduated with distinction in 1986 and immediately left for Vienna to continue his studies, changing from violin to viola. After four years of intensive study at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik, with Prof. Siegfried Führlinger, he won the position of Principal Viola of the Teatro alla Scala opera house in Milan under Riccardo Muti. During the following four years he learned a great deal of the opera repertoire and was also invited to join the Quartetto della Scala, giving concerts around the world.
In 1994 Tobias joined his brother Benedict in the combined Vienna Philharmonic and
Austrian State Opera Orchestra, winning the position of Principal Viola. He fosters a lively interest in chamber music, playing with the Vienna Chamber Ensemble amongst various other groups. His extensive experience as a soloist includes performances of Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante” with the Vienna Philharmonic under Riccardo Muti, in Vienna, Japan, Canada, South America and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He also performed Bartok’s Viola Concerto in Vienna’s Musikverein Hall, again with the Vienna Philharmonic under Riccardo Muti.
Working with students is a particular passion of his, and he has held masterclasses all over Europe, as well as in Japan, China, South East Asia, India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Gillian Ansell was born in Auckland, New Zealand and began violin and piano lessons at an early age. At 16 years she made her concerto debut with the Auckland Symphonia (now the Auckland Philharmonia).
An Associated Board Scholarship to study violin, viola and piano took Gillian Ansell to the Royal College of Music in London where she won several prizes. She then took up a German Academic Exchange (DAAD) scholarship for further study in Germany at the Musikhochschule Cologne with Igor Ozim and the Amadeus Quartet.
After working professionally in London for three years she returned to New Zealand in 1987 to become a founding member of the New Zealand String Quartet. She was second violinist for two years before taking up the position of violist of the group. In 2001 she became Artistic Director, with fellow quartet member Helene Pohl, of the Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music. In 2008 Gillian was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to music.
In her spare time, Gillian enjoys movies, gardening, dinner parties and hiking.
She plays on a 1619 Nicolò Amati viola, generously loaned by the Adam Foundation.
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, which won First Prize, Grand Prize and Audience Prize at the 2009 Asia-Pacific Chamber Competition. In 2009 Hamer Quartet was named in ‘The Age’ magazine’s 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 in 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, the 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 cello donated by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, the Tallis Foundation, Hamer Family Fund, and other private donors. He would also like to thank Merv Dickey and his generous family for commissioning his 2015 Ersen Aycan cello.
Michael studied conducting with John Hopkins at the University of Melbourne and Maestro Christopher Seaman 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.
Photo credit Agatha Yim @Polyphonic Pictures
Anna is freelance cellist currently based in Melbourne. She has the pleasure of regularly performing with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and ACO Collective. As a chamber musician she has appeared in concert series and festivals across Australia and abroad including the Adam International Chamber Music Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, MRC Local Heroes, Metropolis Music Festival and Bangalow Music Festival.
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 study at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland with Professor Niall Brown.
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