Robert Ashworth

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Universitaet Mozarteum, Austria; University of British Columbia, Canada

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Robert Ashworth is having a great time being Principal viola for the Auckland Philharmonia Orches­tra.  He arrived from Canada to New Zealand shores in 2003 for a one-year adventure, he found a connection with the country through its music, people and country-side, his animals and family.

He has been guest-​principal viola for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, as well as assistant-principal for the Calgary Philharmonic Orches­tra. He is violist with the Jade String Quartet in Auckland, and also plays with the Australian World Orchestra.

Robert is a twice recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Award for Emerging Artists and has performed with various groups at international chamber music festivals in Europe, North America, and Japan. He has had the honour of studying with violists Thomas Riebl and Veronika Hagen at the Universitaet Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and with Gerald Stanick at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Last updated 2019

Lauren Brigden

Australian Hometown(s): Sydney & Melbourne
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Australian Institute of Music

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Lauren Brigden has been a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Viola section since 2006 & is a founding member of the Fidelio Quartet. She grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, studying violin from an early age with John Speer. She was awarded numerous prizes and scholarships including the John Curro Viola Prize while studying with Patricia Pollett at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Lauren returned to Sydney receiving a scholarship to complete her Bachelor Of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with Winifred Durie.

Lauren has studied & performed extensively throughout Europe & North America including the Aspen Music Festival. She has received an Ian Potter Cultural Trust Scholarship and an Emerging Artist Grant from the Australia Council for study in Vienna with Gertrude Rossbacher. Lauren is the proud mother of two beautiful boys, is passionate about the Tour de France, drinks copious amounts of tea and once moonlighted with the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

Last updated 2020

Alex Brogan

Australian Hometown: Perth
Education: University of Western Australia, Australian National Academy of Music

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Alex started playing viola at the age of 12 when he was awarded a music scholarship to Perth Modern School. Upon completing Honours in Performance at the University of Western Australia, Alex was awarded a full scholarship to the Australian National Academy of Music for two years. During this time he performed in many masterclasses, solo, orchestral and chamber music concerts. Whilst at ANAM he also participated in the Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum held at the Universitat Salzburg.

Alex has played with the Sydney, Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony orchestras and participated in Australian Youth Orchestra programs, including Camerata Australia. He joined the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) in 2007. In 2009 Alex performed with the WASO Chamber Players in the Utzon Concert Series at the Sydney Opera House. He has also played with the Pacifica Quartet, in the Government House Music on the Terrace concert series, in Darlington Chamber Music concerts, with Tura New Music and recorded Troy Roberts’ XenDen Suite for Double Quartet (jazz quartet and string quartet).

In April 2018 Alex was Guest Associate Principal Viola with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. From 2016 to 2019 he was WASO’s Acting Principal Viola.

Teachers have included Caroline Henbest, Esther van Stralen, Lawrence Jacks and Tzvi Friedl. Alex plays on a Hiroshi Iizuka viola.

Last updated 2018

Christopher Cartlidge

Australian Hometown(s): Sydney & Melbourne
Education: Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, Australian National Academy of Music

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY

Sydney-born violist Chris Cartlidge studied on a full scholarship at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and the Australian National Academy of Music, and was the recipient of several awards including the UTas Director’s Prize, and the UTas Dean’s Roll of Excellence. His main teachers were Josephine St Leon and Roger Benedict. Chris began playing the violin at the age of seven, and the viola at the age of fourteen whilst a student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School.

In 2010, he was appointed Principal Viola of the Australian Youth Orchestra for their European Tour. Also in that year, he was one of five musicians selected for the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Emerging Artists’ Program.

Chris has been a full time member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2011, where he has also appeared on numerous occasions as Principal Viola. He has appeared as Guest Principal with Orchestra Victoria and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and Guest Associate Principal with both Victorian Opera and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. He has also worked with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and is regularly invited to perform with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Chris is in great demand as a chamber musician, having given concerts alongside Garrick Ohlsson, Kolja Blacher and Sarah Chang, and performs chamber music regularly in major Melbourne concert venues, and throughout Australia.

Last updated 2020

Sally Clarke

Australian Hometown: Brisbane
Education: University of Queensland, Herbert-von-Karajan Akademie, Berlin

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Born in Brisbane, Australia, Sally Clarke began her musical career with violin at the age of 11; one year later she took up the viola as well, in order to play chamber music. She graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Music, Honours, degree (and various prizes and distinctions), performing with diverse chamber ensembles and as soloist with the Queensland Youth Orchestra, on its 1986 New Zealand Tour, and with the  Camerata of St John’s, of which she was a founding member. A German Government Scholarship (DAAD) enabled her to further her studies with Professor Rainer Moog in Cologne; thereafter she attended the Herbert-von-Karajan Akademie in Berlin, performing regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1988 she was Principal Viola with the Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra, under the baton of Sergiu Celibidache, from whose mentoring she benefitted greatly.

Chamber music and solo performances have taken Sally to many places in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Russia. She has participated in various festivals, including those of Townsville and Bangalow, Australia; and in September 2009, the biennial “German Festival” of Krasnodar. In 2014 she made a guest appearance at the World Harp Festival in Sydney and participated in the AWO Chamber Festival in the NSW Southern Highlands in November 2017. Sally teaches and performs at “Das SommerMusikFest” each year.

Sally Clarke’s recordings for CD and radio include the rarely performed Sonatas for Viola and Piano by Luigi von Kunits and Wilhelm Killmayer. Sally’s CD “another sort of fire” featuring works by contemporary women composers, is available through Bayer Records. Her great interest is in expanding traditional “classical” approaches, through “cross-over” projects involving oriental music, live dance-theatre or improvisation to silent movies. In 2009 she founded the trio “Blue Ayre”, together with Cynthia Oppermann, harp, and Veronika Fuchs, flute. The trio has performed in Germany, France and Australia; their CD “Blue Ayre” was released in 2013, and features works by Debussy, Bax, Bartok and a specially commissioned work by Rüdiger Oppermann (Celtic and experimental harp), with whose ensemble “KlangWelten” she has toured on numerous occasions. “Blue Ayre” is available on iTunes.

Sally has taught and coached at various workshops, masterclasses and youth orchestras, including the renowned Interregional Youth Orchestra (IRO), which takes place annually in Ochsenhausen, and at the Sydney Conservatorium High School, or anywhere in the world, online, via www.playwithapro.com. Her teaching style has been described as particularly empowering; she has worked extensively with orchestral musicians, violists and violinists alike, seeking support for audition preparations or just to reboot their technique.

A full-time member of the SWR Symphony Orchestra (formally known as Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart) since 1992. She has appeared with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and also with Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt.

Last updated 2020

Molly Collier-O’Boyle

Australian Hometown(s): Brisbane & Melbourne
Education: Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Australian National Academy of Music

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Molly Collier-O’Boyle is a violinist and violist originally hailing from sunny Queensland. Molly completed her Bachelor of Music in Advanced Performance in classical violin under the tutelage of Michele Walsh in 2015 at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and in 2016 completed her Graduate Diploma in Music Performance at the University of Queensland with Adam Chalabi. Molly has also studied viola at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) with Caroline Henbest.

Highlights in Molly’s musical journey thus far include touring internationally with the Queensland Youth Symphony, touring as Concertmaster to China with the Australian International Opera Company, being Principal Second Violin at the Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute, an advanced performance participant at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, a young artist at the Canberra International Music Festival and curating Brisbane’s successful arts event series Paint it Red. Awards received include the Minor Award in the Ena Williams Postgraduate Award as well as first places in the Jani Hanki and 4MBS chamber music prizes with the Aditaya String Quartet.

In 2017 Molly was Principal Viola of the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Porter Chamber Orchestra at National Music Camp, Momentum Ensemble and was a recipient of an Ernest V. Llewellyn Memorial Fund. She also participated in the AYO Chamber Players and the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Fellowships. Molly premiered Nabunum’s Water by Melody Eötvös for chamber orchestra, mixed media and video and Stuart Greenbaum’s Sonata for Viola and Piano Leaving Earth. She freelances professionally on violin and viola with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra (emerging artist), and also works as a violist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia Orchestra.

Last updated 2018

Anne-Louise Comerford

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY

Anne-Louise Comerford began playing the violin and piano at the age of five. She attended the Sydney Conservatorium High School and completed her degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, studying with Robert Pikler.

She was a founding member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and won a scholarship to study with Joseph De Pasquale at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. During this time she attended the New York String Seminar with Alexander Schneider, and also worked with the Stockholm Ensemble in Sweden.

In 1980, she began studies with Bruno Giuranna at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold, Germany, and took part in his masterclasses at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Italy.

Anne-Louise Comerford returned to Australia to join the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1987. She has previously held the position of Principal Viola in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and has appeared as guest principal viola with many other Australian orchestras. She is also active as a chamber musician and has performed with the Australia Ensemble and the Sydney Soloists as well as appearing for Musica Viva, and recording for ABC Classic FM. Anne-Louise Comerford has recorded the viola works of Miriam Hyde and is a regular guest at the Kowmung Music Festival in Oberon.

Anne-Louise Comerford plays a Domenico Degani viola made in Montagnana in 1860.

Last updated 2020

Virginia Comerford

Australian Hometown(s): Newcastle & Sydney
Education: Sydney Conservatorium High School

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Virginia is Principal Viola with the Opera Australia Orchestra (formally known as Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.)

Virginia was born in Newcastle NSW and as a child learnt violin, piano, cello and flute. She later settled on the viola and studied in Sydney with Peter Pfuhl. She completed her schooling at the Conservatorium High School and led the violas at both National Music Camp and Australian Youth Orchestra. At the age of 19 she won the position of Associate Principal Viola with the Opera Australia Orchestra. She also performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Virginia left the OAO to freelance, first in Australia then overseas. She lived in The Netherlands for five years, working with numerous ensembles including Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Chamber Orchestra, I Fiamminghi chamber orchestra, and Salzburg Chamber Soloists. She also pursued a love of singing, winning a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to study in London.

Virginia returned to Australia in 2001 where she returned to the OAO and was appointed Principal Viola in 2009.

Last updated 2020

Rosemary Curtin

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Sydney Conservatorium High School, Musikhochschule, Munich

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY

Following postgraduate studies at the Musikhochschule in Munich with Hariolf Schlichtig, Rosemary Curtin’s professional career began with regular performances with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in London, Asia, the US and Europe. 

After returning to Australia, she held the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Viola Fellowship in 2003. Since then she has been working regularly with the orchestra and in 2014 joined the viola section as a permanent member. She has also pursued an active freelance career with other Australian orchestras, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Opera Australia Orchestra and Australian World Orchestra. And in June 2017 she represented the SSO performing with the New York Philharmonic in their Global Orchestra Project. 

Rosemary Curtin began her music studies on the violin at the age of four with the Suzuki method. She changed to the viola when she entered the Sydney Conservatorium High School, studying with Winifred Durie. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Sydney. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships from organisations including the Queen’s Trust, the Big Brother Movement and the Australian Youth Orchestra. She also holds a Diploma in Management Studies from the University of Cambridge and pursues an active interest in orchestral management. 

Rosemary Curtin plays on an A.E. Smith viola made in Sydney in 1930.

Last updated 2020

Andra Darzins

Australian Hometown: Adelaide
Education: University of Adelaide, University of Music, Berlin

Professional Biography
Andra Darzins is Professor of Viola at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany. Previously (1993-2004) she was principal viola of the Hamburg Philharmonic orchestra. Andra performs and teaches worldwide.

She plays as Guest Principal Viola in major German orchestras, including the Staatskapelle Berlin, Bamberger Symphoniker, Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt, Munich Philharmonic (with which she toured Asia under the baton of Lorin Maazel) and with the Elphilharmonie Orchester playing concerts in Hamburg and Paris.

Andra is an avid chamber musician, is regularly invited to important festivals, a highlight was the International Chamber Music Festival in Zagreb in October 2017, performing both Brahms string Quintets and Sextetts.

Andra is also often invited as a guest player with the Ensemble Modern, including tours to Paris and to England in 2017, and was part of a CD production with EM, featuring the music of Brian Ferneyhough.

A highlight of 2017 were several performances of Morton Feldmans “Rothko Chapel” featuring solo viola with choir, together with the Stuttgart Vokalensemble, including a performance in the auspices of the Schwetzinger Festspiele in the thousand-year-old cathedral in Speyer. Andra recorded this work together with the choir in 2014, this CD was awarded the prestigious Prize of the German Record Critics.

Andra has released 6 solo CDs, including recordings of the viola concertos by Hoffmeister and Stamitz, in dual function as soloist and conductor. Her recordings have been highly acclaimed by critics and received prizes.

Andra studied at the University of Adelaide and at the University of Music in Berlin with Wolfram Christ. She was a Churchill Fellowship and DAAD scholarship holder. She won first prize in South Australia in the ABC Concerto Competition , the spezial prize “Frederic Liebstoeckl” at the Geneva Music Competition and 2nd prize (no first awarded) at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition.

Andra is artistic director of the St. Antonius Autumn concerts in Stuttgart.

Andra plays a viola built by Guiseppe Odoardi in 1770.

Last updated 2018