Howard and Chris are thrilled to welcome such wonderful and talented colleagues to the 2022 festival.

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 co-Concertmaster of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and is also a member of highly acclaimed chamber group, Ensemble Q. She has been the leader of both the Australian String Quartet and the Grainger Quartet as well as the Concertmaster of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Natsuko frequently guests as a Concertmaster with many major orchestras in Australia and Asia and continues to perform chamber music as a guest artist with various groups and musicians in many of the festivals.

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.

Sulki Yu 

The newly appointed Concertmaster of the Orchestra Victoria, violinist Sulki Yu enjoys a busy career as a chamber musician, orchestral leader and a soloist. A prize-winner of the 2006 Yehudi Menuhin and the 2007 Szigeti-Hubay International Violin Competitions, Sulki studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London under David Takeno and furthered her studies under Augustin Dumay at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elizabeth in Brussels.

Sulki has appeared as soloist with many orchestras including the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Orchestre Nationale de Lille, Budapest Symphony, Moscow State Academic Symphony, and Royal Wallonie Chamber Orchestras, collaborating with among others Mark Gorenstein, Joji Hattori, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Philippe Herreweghe. Sulki made debut recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre to critical acclaim and has performed on BBC Radio 3 on numerous occasions. A passionate chamber musician, she has been invited to many international chamber music festivals where she has shared the stage with Dong-Suk Kang, Gordon Nikolitch, Charles Neidich and Antonio Meneses amongst others. In 2009 along with cellist Pei-Jee Ng and pianist Chiao-Ying Chang she formed Fournier Trio. The trio were awarded the 2013 Parkhouse Award. They were winners of the 2nd prize and audience prize at the Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition in 2011 and made their Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall debuts the same year. Until 2022 they are artists in residence at the Oxford University’s Wolfson College.

Until recently, Sulki served as Principal First Violin at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. She plays on a beautiful Niccolo Gagliano violin on loan to her.

Grace Clifford 

Grace Clifford is widely recognized as one of Australia’s finest young violinists and she is privileged to perform with many of its leading orchestras.

Grace has enjoyed the frequent opportunity of performing concertos with the Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Tasmania Symphony, West Australian Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, and Canberra Symphony Orchestras.   Further afield Grace recently made her debut with the Malaysian Philharmonic at the invitation of conductor Mark Wigglesworth.

2021 season highlights include returns to the Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and West Australian Symphony Orchestras and she looks forward to making her debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Equally committed to chamber music, Grace tours yearly in Australia as a guest with Selby and Friends, and was invited to return to the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in 2018 and 2021 under Artistic Director Kathryn Stott.

Stephen King

Stephen King has been privileged to be the violist of the Australian String Quartet and prior to that in the Australian Chamber Orchestra over the last twenty years. This has led to countless performances, tours, recordings, collaborations and festivals. With the ASQ, Stephen has been integral in developing digital projects such as Square Circles VR, new Australian commissions and recordings, and innovative cross-artform collaborations. As the ACO’s education representative he played a major role in founding and building the Orchestra’s education and emerging artists programs.

Stephen holds a Doctorate in Chamber Music from the University of Maryland, studying with the Guarneri Quartet. He was Associate Principal Viola of the Boston Philharmonic and has been guest principal of the Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. Stephen teaches viola and chamber music at the Elder Conservatorium and AYO National Music Camps. As Director of Engagement and Learning with the ASQ he explores ways to give life to music beyond the concert hall.

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.

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 recognised as one of Australia’s foremost musicians, consistently praised for the grace, finesse and imaginative intelligence of his performances. His busy performance schedule finds him equally at home as concerto soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.

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, Queensland, Adelaide and Auckland Symphony Orchestras.

An avid chamber musician, Daniel has enjoyed fruitful collaborations with many leading soloists including Vadim Gluzman, Andrew Haveron, Dale Barltrop, Kristian Winther, Baiba Skride, Umberto Clerici, Nicolas Altstaedt, Li-Wei Qin, Roderick Williams, Steve Davislim and Andrew Goodwin. His festival appearances have included the Musica Viva Festival, Adelaide Festival, Huntington Estate Music Festival and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. Daniel is a founding member of Ensemble Q, ensemble-in-residence at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University since 2017.

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.

Amir Farid

US-born Iranian Australian pianist Amir Farid has been described as “a highly creative musician – a pianist of great intelligence and integrity.  He brings strong musical substance to all that he does, imbuing it with his own particular experience and understanding”, and who “in a well-populated field…distinguishes himself for all the right reasons”.

A graduate of the Royal College of Music London, he is a sought-after artist in venues and festivals internationally, such as Carnegie Hall, Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, Musica Viva Festival, Huntington Festival, Mona Foma, and Kuwait Chamber Philharmonia.  He has performed concerti with the major Australian orchestras, and collaborated with artists such as tenor Ian Bostridge, saxophonist Claude Delangle, and violinist Arabella Steinbacher.

His numerous recordings are heard frequently on radio stations throughout Australia and internationally, including as pianist of the Benaud Trio, and several have been nominated for an Australian Independent Music Award.  Amir is also a recorded artist on the Steinway & Sons Spirio catalogue, as part of the piano manufacturer’s revolutionary player-piano system.  As of 2017, Amir also lives and works in New York City as a staff pianist for the Juilliard School and New York Philharmonic.

Donald Nicholson

Listed among Australia’s best classical performers by the ABC in 2019, harpsichordist, organist, pianist, composer and arranger, Donald Nicolson is a prominent figure in performance and research of the music of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, and in high demand as a keyboardist, composer, and arranger. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Donald commenced harpsichord studies with Douglas Mews at Victoria University, and subsequently at the Royal Conservatorium, The Hague with early music legend Ton Koopman. There he focussed on the performance of sixteenth-century English virginal music and the seventeenth-century French clavecin school.

Since 2011, Donald has been based in Melbourne maintaining a busy performing schedule in the early music scene and on the orchestral platform. A sought-after continuo player, Donald frequently performs with Pinchgut Opera, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Van Diemen’s Band, and regularly collaborates with Australia’s early music specialists. He works regularly as a pianist, harpsichordist and organist for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and has directed numerous performances from the harpsichord for the MSO and ACO.

Donald graduated with a PhD in Musicology at the University of Melbourne in 2018, submitting a thesis that focussed on the relationship between seventeenth-century French social history and the keyboard preludes of Louis Couperin. An avid reader of the classics and ancient rhetoric Donald teaches historically-informed performance practice at the University of Melbourne, and gives regular talks and lectures on music and history.

Chloe Lankshear

Chloe Lankshear is an accomplished Sydney-based soprano who enjoys a varied career of performative mediums from operatic productions to classical contemporary recitals and commission premieres. Chloe has performed with State Opera South Australia and Pinchgut Opera, and has been a featured soloist with Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and Bach Akademie Australia. She is also a Principal artist with The Song Company, and permanent member of St James Choir Kings Street. She has performed alongside some of Australia’s best including David Greco, Andrew Goodwin, Taryn Fiebig, and Anna Dowsley. 

Her debut lead operatic role was as Galatea in Ensemble Polypheme’s production of Acis and Galatea, directed by Australian soprano and founder of Pacific Opera, Christine Douglas. In 2020 Chloe was an artist in Pinchgut Opera’s Film ‘A Delicate Fire’, as well as their mini series of recorded madrigals, and also recorded a ‘Behind Doors’ concert with classical guitarist Heathcliffe Auchinachie at Phoenix Central Park Studio. Chloe went on to be a featured artist with The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and with Pinchgut Opera in their December seasons. 

Recently Chloe performed in the premiere of Paul Stanhope’s ‘Requiem’ at City Recital Hall, as well as Pinchgut Opera’s program of Monteverdi’s ‘Vespers’. She was also a featured artist with ACO for their program ‘Baroque Revelry’. In July 2021 Chloe was named Pinchgut Opera’s inaugural ‘Taryn Fiebig Scholar’ for 2021-23 and appeared in their production of Platee at the conclusion of 2021. Coming in 2022, Chloe is a featured artist at Bendigo Chamber Festival, with Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. She is currently Pinchgut Opera’s inaugural ‘Taryn Fiebig Scholar’ for 2021-23.

David Elton

Currently Principal Trumpet of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, David Elton’s performance career has seen him hold positions with many of this country’s and the world’s leading orchestras, most recently as Principal Trumpet with the London Symphony Orchestra.  He has also performed as guest Principal Trumpet with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Australian World Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.

As an educator, David has served on the faculties of many of Australia’s tertiary institutions and the Royal College of Music in London. He is currently on the faculties of both the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne and the Sydney Conservatorium.

An enthusiastic mentor of young musicians, David regularly appears as a guest at workshops for community groups and youth orchestras. As an active soloist, David is in demand having performed concerti with a variety of ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and Canberra Symphony Orchestra. He performs the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the SSO in March 2022.

Charlotte Miles

Born in 2002, Melbourne-based Australian cellist Charlotte Miles recently completed her third year of training with Howard Penny at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), and is now in her final year of Bachelor of Music (BMus) studies at the University of Melbourne.

Charlotte has benefitted from masterclasses with cellists including Wolfgang Emmanuel Schmidt, Maria Kliegel, David Geringas, Li-Wei Qin, David Finckel and Alban Gerhardt. She has given invited recitals at the Sanguine Estate Music Festival and Melbourne Cello Festival, and on Melbourne Digital Concert Hall. In 2021 she performed at the ACO’s TarraWarra Festival, and in 2016, she performed in a 100-cello ensemble alongside leading cellists including Mischa Maisky, Sol Gabetta and Giovanni Sollima at the prestigious Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in Los Angeles.

Awarded over 100 competition prizes, Charlotte has performed at Carnegie Hall (New York) and Opera Bastille (Paris) 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). She has toured nationally and internationally with the Australian Youth Orchestra, where she was appointed 2021 Principal Cello, and awarded AYO Fellowships with both the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. 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.