Monica Curro

Australian Hometown(s): Brisbane & Melbourne
Education: Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Michigan State University

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Violinist Monica Curro has been Assistant Principal 2nd Violin of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 1997, and was a core member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for 5 years before that. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1987 and completed a Masters Degree at Michigan State University in 1991, studying with Walter Verdehr. She has played with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, as Principal 2nd Violin with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and as Guest Concertmaster of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and The Auckland Chamber Orchestra.

Monica is a member of the Board of Directors of the Australian Youth Orchestra, and regularly tutors for their orchestral and chamber music programs. She has taught violin at The University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts, and has coached chamber music and taught violin and viola at the Australian National Academy of Music and its Young Academy.

In 2009 Monica was honoured to be invited as the only Australian to play in the World Orchestra for Peace conducted by Valery Gergiev for concerts in Poland and Sweden. She joined them in 2010 for concerts in London and Salzburg, in Abu Dhabi for 2011, in New York and Chicago for 2012, and in London for 2014. Monica is also a member of the Australian World Orchestra, who in 2015 performed with Sir Simon Rattle in Sydney and Melbourne, and with Zubin Mehta on tour in India.

Monica recently gave the world premiere, as co-soloist with her sister Sarah, of Stefan Cassomenos’ Double Violin Concerto for acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric violins. In October 2013, she appeared as a soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and appears regularly as part of MSO’s Chamber Series.

Monica is a founding member of acclaimed ensemble PLEXUS, with pianist Stefan Cassomenos and clarinetist Philip Arkinstall. Since launching in 2014, PLEXUS has commissioned over 100 composers and premiered over 100 new works. PLEXUS was a shortlisted finalist in the Melbourne Prize for Music 2016 Outstanding Musicians Award. In 2018, PLEXUS was invited to be Artist-in-Residence with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Last updated 2020

Christina Leonard

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Christina Leonard is one of Australia’s leading saxophonists and was the Artistic Director of the 2018 CLASSIC STOMP and AWO’s Chamber Music Festival in the NSW Southern Highlands. Christina plays regularly with both the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera Orchestra and has performed orchestrally in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Malaysia and in Hobart as a soloist with the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra. Christina has also performed with the ACO, the Song Company, Match Percussion, Synergy, and the Sonic Art Ensemble.

Christina regularly features in the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s Noel Noel concert series, and was a soloist in the Elena Kats-Chernin commission to celebrate the ABO’s 25th Anniversary.  Christina premiered her own transcription of CPE Bach’s Concerto in A minor Wq 170 with the ABO in their Vivaldi Unwired season this year. She has made many recordings and live broadcasts for ABC Classic FM and Fine Music FM.  Christina has premiered newly commissioned music with Marshall McGuire at the Utzon Room Chamber music series at the Opera House and will record a CD of this and other new music later in the year. Christina has recently recorded a CD of Saxophone and Piano repertoire with Tamara-Anna Cislowska

Christina was awarded a Queens Trust Scholarship to complete a postgraduate degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. Christina completed her Masters of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has been lecturing Saxophone, examining and facilitating workshops and classes there since 1996. Christina’s transcriptions of Baroque music for Saxophone and keyboard, are included on the current AMEB and ABRSM, (London) Syllabi.

Christina continues to champion opportunities for classical Saxophone commissions and performances and is the first Australian to be endorsed as an International Artist with Japanese instrument maker Yanagisawa.

Last updated 2018

Simon Oswell

Australian Hometown(s): Brisbane & Melbourne
Education: Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music; University of California, San Diego

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY

Simon Oswell trained in Australia and the United States. He gained awards in the National Concerto competition and co-founded the Petra String Quartet. Simon has performed and recorded as a soloist and chamber musician in Australia, Europe and South East Asia and subsequently in the United States in the LA based chamber music groups, the Capitol Ensemble and Pacific Serenades.

In California he occupied several Principal Viola positions including the Hollywood Bowl and recorded for the motion picture industry. Since returning to Australia Simon has appeared as Guest Principal with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Tasmanian and Queensland Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Australian World Orchestra, Ensemble Liaison, Firebird Trio, Wilma and Friends, and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.

Recent highlights have included performances in the UK at the Oxford May Chamber Music Festival and the North York Moors Festival.

Last updated 2018

Howard Penny

Australian Hometown(s): Canberra & Melbourne
Education: Nelson Cooke, Canberra; Tobias Kühne, André Navarra, Boris Pergamenshikov, William Pleeth, Vienna

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Howard Penny was born in Canberra and after studies with Nelson Cooke moved to Vienna, studying with Tobias Kühne, André Navarra, Boris Pergamenshikov and William Pleeth. Winning the ABC Young Performers Competition, and a finalist in the Prague International Cello competition, concerto performances include 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 and Vienna Radio Symphony, he is a long-standing member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, working regularly with the world’s leading conductors and soloists, participating in over 100 CD and video recordings with such artists as Abbado, Harnoncourt,  Solti, Haitink, Kremer, Argerich and Domingo.

As a chamber musician he has appeared in Wigmore Hall, Salzburg Festival, Beethoven Festival Bonn and KREMERata Lockenhaus, and was awarded the Gold Medal for services to the Republic of Austria. Fifteen years with the Beethoven Trio Vienna also took him to major halls in the U.S. and Japan. A regular guest with Concentus Musicus (Harnoncourt) and for ten years Lecturer in Historical Performance Practice at the University Mozarteum Salzburg, he was musical co-director of two Mozart operas for the 2006 Salzburg Festival complete cycle. A specialist in recitative realisation he was engaged for a new production of Don Giovanni for the Vienna Festival, a prize-winning Coronation of Poppea in Melbourne, and for seminars during the Mozart Week in Salzburg with Angelika Kirschlager. Frequently directing from the cello he has led a large variety of repertoire including a Haydn opera with Sara Macliver and Steve Davislim at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM).

His numerous CD recordings include works for solo cello, a live recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto from the Vienna Konzerthaus, major works for piano trio with the Beethoven Trio Vienna, first recordings of Boccherini quintets and sextets, and many other chamber works. Since returning to Australia in 2010 he has appeared at most prominent chamber music festivals, including his own Sanguine Estate Music Festival, and works closely with AYO, also as guest director of National Music Camp and Chamber Players. He has been a member of the Artists of the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in Melbourne since 2007, where he is now very happily based.

Last updated 2020

Miki Tsunoda

Australian Hometown: Melbourne
Education: University of Toronto; Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest; Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Miki studied with renowned pedagogue, Lorand Fenyves at the University of Toronto as well as with Ferenc Halasz and received extensive training in Chamber Music with Andras Mihaly, Gyorgy Kurtag and Ferenc Rados at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.

She later developed her qualities further at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, working closely with David Takeno and the late Zoltan Szekely.

Having founded the Binneas String Quartet during her years at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, her early experiences instilled in her a passion for chamber music and the importance of communication and self-expression.

The formation of Duo Sol in 1998 was a natural progression of her desire to continue to develop through close chamber music partnerships. Together with pianist Caroline Almonte, Duo Sol has been praised for their passionate and committed performances, receiving critical acclaim.

Since winning First Prize at the prestigious International Chamber Music Competition Premio Trio di Trieste and finalists at the ARD Munich International Competition and Vittorio Gui International Competition in Florence, Duo Sol have forged an international career, performing in the UK, Russia, China, Italy, Japan, South America, Australia and New Zealand. In 2011 Duo Sol made their debut recital at the International Edinburgh Festival and in 2005 represented Australian Culture and the Arts at the World Expo in Aichi, Japan and were ambassadors at the 35th Celebration of Diplomatic Relations between Australia and China in Beijing.

Duo Sol has released two ABC Classics recordings titled “Duo Tsunoda/Almonte” and “Infinite Heartbeat”.

Miki Tsunoda has collaborated with many of the world’s renowned musicians and Ensembles including the late Hiroyuki Iwaki, Philippe Herreweghe, Jaap van Zweden, Xian Zhang, Tadaaki Otaka, Eivind Aadland, Brett Dean, Piers Lane, Liwei, Claire Edwardes, Het Collectief and Elision.

A big fan of the Alban Berg Violin Concerto, Miki has performed it on numerous occasions with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as well as taking it to Japan with the Sendai Philharmonic, Ensemble Kanazawa, Kyoto Symphony and Nagoya Philharmonic, collaborating with Maestro Hiroyuki Iwaki.

Since 2008 Miki has held the position of Principal Second Violin with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra in Antwerp and in addition performs with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

Miki has recently performed with the Ensemble Offspring from Sydney at the Shanghai New Music Festival.

Last updated 2020

Lyndon Watts

Australian Hometown(s): Sydney & Melbourne
Education: University of Music and Performing Arts, Munich

PROFESSIONAL BIOGRAPHY
Australian Lyndon Watts became principal bassoonist of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 22, working together with chief conductors Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Christian Thielemann and James Levine, as well as guest conductor Zubin Mehta, and performing in all the major concert halls of the world. Lyndon is a founding member of the Australian World Orchestra, and throughout his career he has performed as a soloist or guest principal with numerous European and Australian orchestras (Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Bavarian State Opera, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, West German Radio Symphony Orchestra etc.), and on historical bassoon in many leading ensembles specializing in performance on period instruments.

Lyndon began learning bassoon when he was twelve. For five years he had lessons with John Cran, former principal bassoonist of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and won numerous scholarships and prizes in Australia. After finishing school in 1993, he toured Europe as principal bassoonist of the Australian Youth Orchestra and then remained in Germany to study with Professor Eberhard Marschall in Munich, followed by studies on historical bassoon with Alberto Grazzi in Verona. In 2002 he became the only Australian woodwind player to ever win a prize in the prestigious ARD International Music Competition.

From 2005 to 2015 he was professor of bassoon in Switzerland at the Berne University of the Arts. Former students and academists of the Munich Philharmonic now hold positions in orchestras such as the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian State Opera, Wiener Symphoniker, Berne Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Graz Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Until 2016 Lyndon also taught historical bassoon at the Munich University of Music and Performing Arts. In 2012 he obtained a grant in collaboration with musicologist Dr Sebastian Werr and Swiss instrument maker Walter Bassetto from the Swiss National Science Foundation to fund a research programme through the Berne University of the Arts involving the first-ever reconstruction of a classical bassoon after the Parisian maker Jean-Nicolas Savary jeune, known as the “Stradivari of the bassoon”. A CD with world première recordings of compositions for the Savary bassoon was released in 2014.

Lyndon is also an active supporter of contemporary composers, and has given first Australian and German performances of works by Heinz Holliger, Graham Waterhouse (Quintet for bassoon and strings), Bernd Redmann (Concerto “Secret Doors” for two bassoons and orchestra, Quintet “Migrant” for bassoon and string quartet), Wynton Marsalis, Jörg Duda and many others.

After 18 years with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, in 2016 Lyndon chose to move back to his home country Australia, where he is now based in Melbourne freelancing as a performer and teacher on both modern and historical bassoon.

Last updated 2020