Howard and Chris are thrilled to welcome such wonderful and talented colleagues to the 2021 festival.

Thomas Hutchinson 

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.

He has made numerous appearances as soloist, including with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Münchener Kammerorchester, Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

In 2015 he was appointed to the position of associate principal oboe with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis. Since then he has been invited to play principal oboe with orchestras around the world, including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre national de Lyon, and 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, Jonathan Kelly and Jeffrey Crellin.

David Griffiths

David is a member of two of Australia’s leading chamber music ensembles, the Australia Ensemble@UNSW and Ensemble Liaison. He also holds the position of Senior Lecturer in Music (Clarinet) and Coordinator of Chamber Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, the University of Melbourne.


As a member of Ensemble Liaison, he curates and performs an annual three-concert series at the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre which is currently in its 14th season. He regularly appears at major festivals around the world including the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, Adelaide Festival, Port Fairy Festival, Great Lakes Festival (Detroit), Ravinia (Chicago), Lucerne Festival and the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan.


He has appeared as Guest Principal clarinet with all of Australia’s major symphony and opera ballet orchestras along with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Originally from Armidale NSW, Australia, he studied at the Canberra School of Music with Alan Vivian before completing his Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music under the direction of Alan Kay, David Krakauer, Charles Neidich and Ricardo Morales. He is a Backun Clarinet performing artist.

Sophie Rowell

Recently appointed Concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, violinist Sophie Rowell has had an extensive performing career as a soloist, chamber musician and principal orchestral violinist both in Australia and abroad.

After winning the ABC Young Performer’s Award in 2000 which resulted in solo performances with all major Australian symphony orchestras, Sophie founded the Tankstream Quartet which won string quartet competitions in Cremona and Osaka. Having studied in Germany with the Alban Berg Quartet, the quartet moved back to Australia in 2006 when they were appointed to the Australian String Quartet. For 6 years she toured, recorded and participated in chamber music festivals and enjoyed performing that wonderful repertoire all over the globe.

Since 2012 Sophie has travelled the world playing in principal violin positions with orchestras including the Scottish & Mahler Chamber Orchestras and the Vancouver, Sydney & Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, as well as participating in many chamber music festivals in Australia.

Natsuko Yoshimoto

Born in Japan, Natsuko began playing the violin at the age of three. She studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and Royal Northern College of Music in England and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.  She received direct guidance and teaching under Lord Menuhin and Wen Zhou Li.

In great demand as a soloist, she has appeared with many world renowned orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia (London), Halle Orchestra, Odense  Symphony (Denmark), Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Melbourne Symphony and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras.

Natsuko is currently the Concertmaster with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. She frequently guests as a Concertmaster with other major orchestras in Australia and Asia. She was the leader of the Australian String Quartet and then the Grainger Quartet until the end of 2008. She continues to perform chamber music as a guest artist with various groups and musicians.

She has given many world premieres of works by Australia’s most prominent composers and has recorded for Virgin Classics, ABC Classics, Melba Records and Tall Poppies.

Natsuko plays on a Giovanni Battista Guadagnini generously on loan from UKARIA Trust.

Matthew Tomkins

Matthew Tomkins has been a member of the Melbourne Symphony
Orchestra since 2000, and in 2010 was appointed to the Gross Foundation
Principal Second Violin chair.

Matthew began learning the violin at the age of 5 with Reiko Moritz and
John Hughes in Ballarat. He spent his high school years studying in
Melbourne with Marco van Pagee, and while studying Science and
Engineering at Melbourne University continued lessons with Spiros
Rantos and Mark Mogilevski.

Matthew was a founding member of the Flinders Quartet, and performed
with them over 13 years with artists including Menahem Pressler, Geoff
Nuttall, Genevieve Lacey, Karin Schaupp, Slava Grigoryan, David
Thomas,Kristian Chong and Paul Dean. The quartet featured at festivals
across Australia, including Melbourne International, Bangalow, Port Fairy,
Castlemaine, Huntington, Tyalgum, Ballarat Goldfields, Camden Haven,
Macedon and Woodend. They recorded regularly for ABC Classic FM and
3 MBS FM. The quartet also spent time at the Banff Centre in Canada, and
in Geneva studying with Gabor Takacs-Nagy, as well as performances in
Sweden and the UK.

Matthew has performed regularly in the MSO Chamber Players series and
with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. He tutors for the Australian
Youth Orchestra and has taught violin and chamber music at the University
of Melbourne.

Tobias Breider

Tobias Breider is principal viola at Sydney Symphony Orchestra.  Tobias was born in Münster and began his music studies with violin and piano. He studied viola with Rainer Moog in Cologne, completing his Master’s degree, and a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship enabled him to study in New York with Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet. His intensive study of chamber music has also included lessons with the Alban Berg Quartet, Juilliard String Quartet, Sarah Nelsova and Miriam Fried.

Before moving to Australia to join the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2011, he held principal positions at the Rhine Opera Düsseldorf, the Konzerthaus Berlin and with the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra under Simone Young. He has also appeared as guest principal with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Berlin, Vienna and Cologne radio symphony orchestras, the Qatar Philharmonic and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

As a soloist he has performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Domain and City Recital Hall, as well as the Melbourne Recital Centre. He regularly tours Queensland giving recitals and is a member of Ensemble Q in Brisbane. He is in demand as a chamber musician, and has performed at numerous festivals in the USA, Germany, the UK and South Africa.

Christopher Moore

Recently appointed as Principal Viola of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Christopher Moore has spent the last nine years travelling the globe as Principal Viola of 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.

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. If you’re lucky, he may hand you a bona fide free-range egg; if you’re unlucky, you’ll be stuck hearing about how much he loves brewing beer and riding his bike into town from the suburbs, in an attempt to prevent his waistline expanding to the size of his chickens’ coop.

Christopher plays on a 1937 Arthur E. Smith viola affectionately known as ‘Martha’.

Howard Penny

Howard Penny was born in Canberra and after studies with Nelson Cooke moved to Vienna studying with Tobias Kühne, Andre Navarra, Boris Pergamenshikov and William Pleeth.

He won the ABC Young Performers Awards, and his concerto performances have included concerts at the Sydney Opera House, Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Berlin Schauspielhaus, Suntory Hall Tokyo and Casals Festival Prades.

A regular Principal Cello with Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Vienna Radio Orchestra and Australian World Orchestra, he is a long-standing member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, working with the world’s leading conductors and soloists, participating in over 100 CD and DVD recordings. As a chamber musician he has appeared in Wigmore Hall, Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Beethoven Festival Bonn and KREMERata Lockenhaus.

Howard frequently directs from the cello – a Haydn opera at ANAM with tenor Steve Davislim and soprano Sara Macliver being a highlight – and is a regular guest at all major Australian chamber music festivals. He also works closely with AYO in various projects. Since 2007 Howard has been a member of the Resident Faculty of the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, where he is now Head of Strings.

Chris Howlett

Chris Howlett is a cellist, festival director and producer.   He graduated in 2007 at the top of his class with First Class Honors at the University of Melbourne which included semester on scholarship in Vienna with Howard Penny.  Following graduation and launching his professional career he continued to take lessons in London with Richard Lester as part of the McKenna Fellowship and was part of the performance class at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Chris has been described as “…one of Australia’s finest emerging talents” and has been a finalist and prize winner at a number of chamber music competitions including the prestigious Trio di Trieste International Competition, the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition and The Hamburg International Chamber Music Competition.

As a cellist his focus is on chamber music performances with the trio as well as duo performances of the cello Sonata repertoire with close friends.  He performs regularly at a number of Australian festivals and has performed concertos around the world.  Chris has also performed concerti with both symphonic and chamber orchestras in Milan, Rome, Paris, Estonia and Melbourne.

Daniel de Borah

Daniel de Borah is widely recognised as one of Australia’s foremost musicians, consistently praised for the grace, finesse and imaginative intelligence of his performances.

Since his prize-winning appearances at the 2004 Sydney International Piano Competition, Daniel has given recitals on four continents and toured extensively throughout the United Kingdom and Australia. As a concerto soloist he has appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland Symphony Orchestras.

An avid chamber musician, he has enjoyed fruitful collaborations with many leading soloists including Vadim Gluzman, Baiba Skride, Li-Wei Qin, Nicolas Altstaedt, Roderick Williams and Steve Davislim.

Daniel studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, the St. Petersburg State Conservatory and the Royal Academy of Music, London. He now lives in Brisbane where he serves on the faculty of the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University.

Benjamin Martin

Ever since the great American pianist John Browning said of him “Reminds me of the young Horowitz”, pianist-composer Benjamin Martin has become known as an artist of exceptional intensity and subtlety of expression. He has been described as ‘the consummate artist’ (The Age), and as a composer, ‘distinctive… arresting in style’ (New York Times).

His formal musical training began at the Victorian College of the Arts where he studied with Alexander Semetsky and Stephen McIntyre. At The Juilliard he was a pupil of John Browning.
Benjamin has appeared regularly with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and performed with artists such as Joshua Bell, Alina Ibragimova, Pekka Kuusisto, Richard Tognetti, and Hartmut Lindemann. As a chamber musician Benjamin has recorded for Chandos, Tacet Records (Stuttgart), Melba Recordings, and BIS. In 2014, he released his debut solo album for Melba Recordings featuring 20th Century English music, which was described as “shattering…compelling” by Richard Adams, director of The Arnold Bax Society.
On the composing side, Benjamin’s career was launched when John Browning gave the World Premiere of his Three Portrait Etudes in 1993 at The Alice Tully Hall, NY. Martin’s Triple-Concerto Trinitas was highly praised by Murray Perahia, who attended the premiere given by the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra (MCO) at the MRC in 2013. The MCO also premiered Benjamin’s Passepied in April 2018.
Benjamin is Jury Chairman for The Melbourne International Youth Competition since 2015, held annually at the BMW Edge, is currently pianist for Firebird Trio, and has been on the piano teaching staff at The University of Melbourne since 1998.  Benjamin features as duo artist in a recent release (2019) with MSO Principal David Berlin for ABC Classics which includes Chopin’s Sonata for piano and ‘cello.

Jacqueline Porter

Jacqueline Porter holds an honours degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor of Arts (Italian) from the University of Melbourne and was the recipient of the 2010 Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust Scholarship.

Equally at home on the operatic stage and the concert platform, Jacqueline appears regularly with Australia’s major symphony orchestras and choral societies. She has worked with celebrated conductors including Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Richard Egarr and Oleg Caetani, and her recitals and concerts are frequently broadcast on ABC Classic FM. Her 2020 return to Sydney Symphony to perform Mahler Symphony No. 4 and orchestrated Schubert songs with Sir Donald Runnicles, has now been rescheduled for 2021.

Jacqueline has most recently been heard in Mozart’s Requiem, Solveig’s Song (Grieg) and Vocalise (Rachmaninov), and Messiah all with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Marriage of Figaro highlights (Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra); St. Matthew Passion (Melbourne Bach Choir); Mass in Time of War (Haydn) and Mass No. 5 (Schubert) with Heidelberg Choral Society; Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Opera Gala; 1st Niece in Peter Grimes with Sydney Symphony and in recital for Music in the Round and Melbourne Recital Centre’s Salon series.

Her opera roles include Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Despina (Così fan tutte), Drusilla, Virtù and Pallade (L’incoronazione di Poppea); L’Amour (Orpheé et Eurydice); Saskia and Hendrickje Stoffels (Rembrandt’s Wife); Clorinda (Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda) and Momus (Der Streit Zwischen Phoebus und Pan) (Baroque Triple Bill) for Victorian Opera and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) for State Opera South Australia.

Rathdowne Quartet

The quartet was formed by four of Australia’s most exciting and accomplished musicians, all alumnus of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Emerging Artist program. Formed in Melbourne in 2019, Rathdowne is an ensemble dedicated to bringing newfangled energies to the great quartets, as well as an enthusiasm for the championing and commissioning of new contemporary works.


After being awarded the Lorne-Ann Cole Ensemble Prize by ANAM in 2019, the quartet’s 2020 included engagements with Peninsula Summer Music Festival (PSMF), Tempo Rubato, Play On/MPavillion, and Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, despite the pandemic conditions in Melbourne. 2021 will include further engagements with PSMF, Tempo Rubato, and a highly-anticipated program for the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Spotlight series. Multiple commissioned works are also to be premiered.


The group’s members are individually highly active as soloists and chamber musicians, amounting to numerous achievements through the likes of ANAM, the Freedman Fellowship, and various international and domestic competitions. Having been engaged by most of the country’s top orchestras and concert series/initiatives, the combined experiences and collaborations of the quartet’s players is the foundation of a strong new ensemble committed to deepening its participation in Australia’s arts world