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

Michael Brooks-Reid

Australian Hometown: Melbourne
Education: University of Melbourne

Australian violinist Michael Brooks Reid is sought after as concertmaster and principal by leading orchestras across Europe and Australia. Currently based in Berlin, Michael makes regular guest appearances with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, German Radio Philharmonic, Aurora Orchestra, Camerata Bern, Kammerakademie Potsdam and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.

Michael has also performed with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Mozart and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and has worked with esteemed conductors such as the late greats Pierre Boulez and Claudio Abbado.
As a chamber musician, Michael spent several years as a member of the
Hamer Quartet. During this time the ensemble competed in the inaugural Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition, winning all available first prizes; the Quartet, Overall and Audience prizes. The quartet was subsequently named on ‘The Age’ newspaper’s ‘The 100 Most Influential People in Australia’ list.
Since leaving the quartet, Michael has continued to pursue his passion for chamber music, performing in several international music festivals, including most recently with Oboist Albrecht Mayer at the ‘Hitzacker Musikwoche’ in Germany, at the newly founded Avigdor Classics in Switzerland, and at the ‘Joy of Music’ festival in Hong Kong.

As soloist, Michael has toured with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, performing and directing The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla to critical acclaim, and recently performed Brahms’ violin concerto as a part of the Melbourne Youth Orchestra’s 50th birthday celebrations at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Conducting is another interest of Michael’s, and he has undertaken study with Christopher Seaman, Sebastian Lang-Lessing and the late John Hopkins OBE, and has conducted the Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras.
From 2004-2008 Michael was Leader and Artistic director of the Australian Classical Players, combining his love for conducting and violin playing; programming and directing the concert season from the 1st violins.

More recently, he has been part of a team of professional mentors directing the ‘Aldeburgh Strings’, a chamber orchestra made up of the most outstanding students from the Britten-Pears Festival in the UK.
Michael plays a violin by Nicolo Gagliano, made in Naples in 1751.
When taking a break from music, Michael enjoys traveling, good food with good wine and a game of poker!

Last updated 2018

Stefan Cassomenos

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

Melbourne pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. He has been performing internationally since the age of 10, and is now established as one of Australia’s leading pianists. As the recipient of multiple prizes including the Second Grand Prize in the prestigious International Telekom Beethoven Competition Bonn 2013, Cassomenos has performed throughout Europe and Asia, and now performs regularly in Australia, Germany and the UK. He has performed concertos with several major Australian symphony orchestras, as well as orchestras overseas.

Cassomenos is a founding member of chamber ensemble PLEXUS, which since launching in 2014 has commissioned and premiered over 100 new works. Cassomenos’ own compositions are regularly commissioned and performed throughout Australia. Cassomenos and violinist Monica Curro were the Artistic Directors of the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival in 2019.

Last updated 2020

Paul Champion

Australian Hometown(s): Sydney & Melbourne
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School

Paul has been Principal Clarinet of  Orchestra Victoria since 2004. During this time he has appeared as a soloist with OV in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, Rossini’s Introduction, Theme and Variations and Weber’s Concertino.

He has been Guest Principal Clarinet with the Australian World Orchestra (2015 tour of India), Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Paul is a currently Lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and teaches in his private studio.

Paul was born in Sydney and studied with Mark Walton, Head of Woodwind at the Sydney Conservatorium. After leaving school Paul studied Commerce at the University of New South Wales and began learning from Frank Celata, Associate Principal of the Sydney Symphony. In 1997 he gained his Licentiate of Music (LMus) Diploma through the AMEB, a year later the Fellowship of Music (FMus) Diploma, and during this time recorded a CD of Australian clarinet music.

He is also co-founder and CEO of education platform Online Virtuoso.

Last updated 2018

Rebecca Chan

Australian Hometown: Melbourne
Education: Australian National Academy of Music; Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Rebecca Chan was born in Melbourne, Australia and studied violin with Alice Waten at the Australian National Academy of Music and Sydney Conservatorium and with William Hennessy at Melbourne University, where she also completed degrees in Medicine and Arts.

Rebecca has played as soloist with many of Australia’s major orchestras, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide, Tasmanian and Canberra Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.  She was the winner and two time finalist in the string section of the ABC Young Performers awards, winner of the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition and the ANAM concerto competition and was a prize winner at the International Citta di Brescia Violin Competition.

As a chamber musician, Rebecca has toured around Australia, Europe and Asia and played in numerous festivals around the world.  She was a member of the Hamer Quartet (winners of the first prize, the audience prize and Musica Viva award in the 2009 Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition) and the Australia Piano Quartet.

Rebecca has been guest concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Western Australian Symphony Orchestra and guest principal second violin with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Camerata Bern and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  Rebecca was a member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra from 2010-2015.  She has also been a member of the Australian World Orchestra and is a core member and guest director of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra.  Rebecca is currently Associate Leader with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Last updated 2018

Natalie Chee

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Natalie Chee began her musical career at the age of 4 on piano. By age 10 she studied violin with Alex Todicescu, a professor at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and member of the Sydney String Quartet.

After winning numerous competitions and prizes in Australia, a young teenage Natalie appeared as a soloist with all of the Australian Symphony Orchestras whist she was in still in high school. In 1994 Natalie was accepted into the Soloist Class of Prof. Igor Ozim in Berne, Switzerland where she received her Soloist Diploma in 1998 with High Distinction.

Still a student, Natalie was invited to become a member of Camerata Bern in the position of 2nd violin leader. During this time, she also co-founded the chamber music ensemble ‘Tiramisu’ and the Mozart Piano Quartet. She toured North and South America, Europe and Australia with these groups and made prominent labels in Switzerland and Germany.

In 2000, Natalie won the position of 1st Concertmaster of Camerata Salzburg – a position she held until 2009. In 2009, Natalie became 1st Concertmaster of the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart. She is a regular guest Concertmaster of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was given the honour of leading this orchestra in the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ in 2014.

As of 2019 Natalie became the Concertmaster of the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne.

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

Heather Cottrell

Australian Hometown: Sydney
Education: Music Academy of Bern

Heather began playing the violin at the age of three, joining SYO at the age of eight. In addition to being in SYO for many years Heather was also a member of AYO in 1987 and 1988. Then in 1989, at just 18 years of age, she joined the Australian Chamber Orchestra. During this time she was studying with Janet Davies.

In 1992 Heather left Sydney to further her violin studies in Europe, studying at first with Igor Ozim and Eva Zurbrügg in Bern and then continuing with a postgraduate performance degree under Ana Chumachenco in Munich. Heather then pursued further postgraduate study in chamber music with the Alban Berg Quartet in Cologne.

Heather’s first European orchestral position was with the Basle Symphony Orchestra following which she performed with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich before joining the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in September 2008 where she is currently Leader of the 2nd Violins.

Last updated 2020