Robert Ashworth

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

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

Rogert Benedict holding viola

Roger Benedict

Australian Hometown(s): Sydney

Roger Benedict’s career has encompassed work as a conductor, soloist, orchestral player, chamber musician and teacher. From 1991 – 2000 Roger was principal viola in the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, and following that held the same position in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. From 2002 -2021 Roger was Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Fellowship Program and was responsible for building it into one of the world’s leading professional training programs for musicians. At the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he is an Associate Professor, Roger is currently Chief Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra and also heads the viola department.

As a viola soloist he has appeared with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, The New London Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra in the UK as well as the Sydney Symphony, Canberra Symphony, New Zealand Symphony and the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (Japan). He has given solo recitals at venues including London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, and at major International festivals.

Roger Benedict’s debut recital CD Volupté (Melba), featuring music by Charles Koechlin and Joseph Jongen, was selected as one of the 10 best recordings of 2010 by His recording of Vaughan Williams’ Flos Campi with the Sydney Symphony was released in 2011, and a disc of music by Hans Gál and Ernst Krenek (Voices in the Wilderness) in 2014, also on the Melba label. His latest recording, A Winter’s Tale, featuring music by Schubert and Schumann with pianist Simon Tedeschi, was released in 2018 on ABC Classics. A new recording for ABC Classics of music by Debussy and Ravel is due for release in late 2021.

A frequent guest conductor with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Roger has conducted the orchestra in subscription concerts at the Sydney Opera House, at City Recital Hall and in regional centres. He has been invited to appear as a conductor with other orchestras in the region including the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and in the UK with the Southbank Sinfonia. A devoted orchestral trainer, he has coached the European Union Youth Orchestra since 2000, and is a frequent conductor of Australian Youth Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra (UK) programs.

Roger has gained admiration for his dedication to outreach and community work – for example through presenting concerts and workshops in schools, prisons and corporate settings, and through organizing major fundraising concerts for charitable causes.

Roger is active as an arranger and editor. His publications for Partitura-Verlag include arrangements of Schubert, Mozart and Debussy, and a popular viola scale method, Scale Up!

Last updated 2022

Lauren Brigden

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

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

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

Cameron Campbell looking at camera

Cameron Campbell

Australian Hometown(s): Sydney
Education: Queensland Conservatorium of Music; Australian National Academy of Music

Cameron Campbell was fortunate to begin playing the violin at age 7 due to a compulsory strings programme at school. After a term, he was deemed to be tall, and was thus moved onto viola to fill the viola positions in the school orchestras. After learning at the Queensland Young Conservatorium with Bridget Crouch from the age of 12, he began tertiary education at the Queensland Conservatorium studying with Bridget Crouch and Graeme Jennings and later received 1st class honours from the University of Queensland in 2013 studying with Patricia Pollett. Following tertiary study, he relocated to London for a year where he was a member of the Southbank Sinfonia. It was in May this year that he had the opportunity to perform Bruch’s Romanze for viola and orchestra as soloist with the orchestra at St. Martin in the Fields. He then moved back to Australia and attended the Australian National Academy of Music for one year after which he relocated again to the UK.

In the UK he works and tours with the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and English National Opera. He was also on trial for Section Leader of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Co-Principal No. 2 of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Co-Principal No. 2 of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Sub-principal No. 3 of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He accepted a Tutti Viola position in the Hallé in 2017 where he currently plays. He enjoys a variety of freelancing around his position in the Hallé and is currently on trial for Co-Principal Viola of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and Sub-Principal Viola No. 3 of the BBC Philharmonic.

Last updated 2022

Christopher Cartlidge

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


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

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 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

Molly Collier-O’Boyle (also known as Molly Cob) is a musician currently living and working in Naarm/Melbourne. She spends most of her time plucking, picking, and sawing away on the viola, cursing all the while. When not screaming profanities at wooden boxes, she attempts to balance her life as a performer, educator, and curator.

Molly is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, the University of Queensland, and more recently, of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), where she ditched the violin to complete her inaugural years of study as a violist with Caroline Henbest. She recently finished her Master of Music research facilitated by ANAM and Griffith University, which explored curatorial processes based on collaboration in the creation and development of new works for the viola.

Currently, Molly is the Acting Associate Principal Viola with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO). In 2021, she pivoted between the role of Acting Assistant Principal Viola with the MSO, middle fiddle player in the Rathdowne Quartet, and was a finalist in the Freedman Classical Fellowship. Previous highlights have included being an emerging artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, an academist with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Australian World Orchestra, a fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival, and Principal Viola of the Australian Youth Orchestra. Prior to the pandemic, she was in residence for four weeks with duo partner Liam Wooding at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada. 

Last updated 2022

Anne-Louise Comerford

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


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 holding viola

Virginia Comerford

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

Born in Newcastle NSW, Virginia studied a multitude of instruments before settling on viola as her primary instrument, completing her studies with Peter Pfuhl, then Principal Viola with the Sydney Symphony. She gained experience as Principal Viola at National Music Camps and the Australian Youth Orchestra, then at age 19 was appointed Associate Principal Viola with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. She also performed regularly with the Sydney Symphony, Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Tasmanian Symphony and the contemporary ensemble The Seymour Group.

Virginia left in 1994 to pursue a career in Europe, spending time first in Italy and then The Netherlands, where she performed with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest, Radio Symfonie Orkest, Nederlands Kamer Orkest, Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam, I Fiamminghi Chamber Orchestra in Belgium and with the Salzburg Soloists. She toured to Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Germany and Ireland.

Also interested in singing, Virginia combined her professional viola career with vocal training and in 1997 was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to pursue her vocal studies in London. Virginia returned to Sydney in 2001 and was appointed to her current position of Principal Viola with the Opera Australia Orchestra in 2010. She regularly performs chamber music, has performed for the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall and has been a member of AWO since 2015.

Last updated 2022