Alice Giles

Australian Hometown: Adelaide
Education: Sydney Conservatorium High School;
Australian National University School of Music

Alice Giles has been celebrated as one of the world’s leading harp soloists, who first attracted international notice when she won First Prize in the 8th Israel International Harp Contest at the age of 21. Since then she has performed extensively internationally both in recital and with orchestras. She presented her first solo recital at the age of 13 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, was awarded the coveted Churchill International Fellowship and an Australia Council Grant to study in the USA and made her New York debut recital at Merkin Hall in 1983.

As a recipient of an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship, she performed a solo concert at Mawson Station in February 2011 commemorating the Centenary of the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

Regarded by Luciano Berio as the foremost interpreter of his Sequenza II, she has taken part in tributes to Berio at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, Salzburg Mozarteum, and at the 92nd Street Y in New York to honour his 70th birthday. She has given many premiere performances for her instrument, has commissioned a complete program of works for the electro-acoustic harp, and is Director of the Seven Harp Ensemble (SHE), which has commissioned many new works by Australian composers.

She was invited by Rudolf Serkin to participate for three summers in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, USA, and has been a guest artist at numerous festival including the Schleswig-Holstein, Insel Hombroich and ‘Ja, Musik!’ Festivals in Germany, Bath Mozartfest, Scotia Festival, Salzedo Centennial in Austin Texas, World Harp Congress Copenhagen, World Harp Festival Cardiff, Edinburgh Harp Festival, Adelaide Festival, Sydney Festival, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Barossa Festival, Huntington Festival and Coriole Festival.

Concert highlights include solo recitals in London’s Wigmore Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y, Merkin Hall NY, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Gulbenkian Foundation Lisbon, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Toronto, and concertos with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Collegium Musicum Zürich, Badische Staatskapelle Karlsruhe, English Symphony Orchestra, Mainzer Kammerorchester, Danish Radio Concert Orchestra, Hamburg Mozart Orchestra, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra and regularly with all the major Australian Symphony and Chamber orchestras.

Alice Giles has an international reputation as a teacher, having given master classes in the Salzburg Mozarteum, The Hague Conservatorium, Royal Academy London, Cleveland Institute, Juilliard School, Curtis Institute, Conservatorio G. Verdi Milano, Parma Conservatorio, Glenn Gould School Toronto, Detmold Hochschule, R. Schumann Hochschule, at the International Youth Festival in Bayreuth and gave an annual Summer Course in Alf/Mosel, Germany 1989-1998. From 1990 to 1998 she taught at the Hochschüle für Musik in Frankfurt, and has recently been appointed Associate Professor and Head of Harp Area at the ANU School of Music. Her annual Summer Course is now held in Kioloa NSW. Her two main teachers were June Loney (Sydney Symphony Orchestra) and Alice Chalifoux (Cleveland Orchestra), also studying with Lydia Shaxson and Judith Liber.

She is founder and director of the Harp Centre Australia, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the harp in Australia. An enthusiastic and accomplished chamber music performer, she performs regularly with Duo Corda (Harp/Piano), Australia Ensemble and in unusual combinations such as with Indian Dance. She was on the jury for both the 1998 and 2009 International Harp Contests in Israel, the 2004 USA International Harp Competition, 2007 V. Salvi European Harp Competition Cardiff and the IX Concourso Nationale d’Arpa ‘Victor Salvi’.

From 1990 to 1998 she taught at the Hochschüle für Musik in Frankfurt and now teaches at the University of Sydney and Australian National Academy of Music. She is the Chair and the Artistic Director of the 2014 World Harp Congress in Sydney, Australia in July 2014.

Alice lives on a 17-hectare property in Yass NSW, with her pianist husband Arnan Wiesel and their two daughters Lara and Selena. Here she seeks a balanced life and enjoys the peace, beauty and space nature provides.

Last updated 2018

Melina van Leewen

Australian Hometown: Melbourne
Education: Australian National University, Australian National Academy of Music

Harpist Melina van Leeuwen performs nationally as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral performer.

An avid chamber music artist, she is a founding member of the Chrysalis Trio, formed together with flautist Kiran Phatak and violist Katie Yap during their time at the Australian National Academy of Music. Chrysalis has been awarded the ANAM Artists program for 2019. Melina was a featured soloist for the Melbourne Recital Centre’s 2019 Tenth Birthday Gala Concert and for the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra’s opening 2016 concert series ‘Classical Visions.’ She has appeared with the Australian World Orchestra and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and regularly performs with Orchestra Victoria, and both the Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras. Selected performances include the 2014 World Harp Congress; 2017 Dark MOFO festival; 2018 MOFO festival; 2016 Port Fairy Spring Music Festival; Canberra International Music Festival; Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music; and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China.

A recipient of a National Undergraduate Scholarship at the Australian National University, Melina completed a Bachelor of Music in 2012 with a High Distinction average under the tutelage of Alice Giles. Previously, Melina studied with Xanya Mamunya and Jacinta Dennett. In 2016 she received an Australian Postgraduate Award at Melbourne University, where she is currently completing her PhD investigation into the philosophical writings of twentieth-century harpist Carlos Salzedo. In 2017 Melina was awarded a Norman Macgeorge Travelling Scholarship that enabled her to conduct archival research for her PhD in the United States and Switzerland, at such institutions as the Curtis Institute of Music and the Paul Sacher Stiftung, and to work on Salzedo repertoire with harpist Heidi Lehwalder.

Last updated 2018