SUSAN COLLINS - Artistic Director, Violinist
Susan Collins (…) plays these extraordinary scores with a remarkable sureness of touch, following even the most unexpected shifts in phrasing and expressive direction with micro-fine precision.
[Julian Haylock The Strad, May 2009]
At age 14, Susan performed Sarasate’s Zigeunerweissen with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Patrick Thomas at the Sydney Opera House. Since that time, she has performed as soloist and recitalist throughout Australia, the USA, and Europe. Critically acclaimed commercial CD releases include the complete violin works of Raymond Hanson (Tall Poppies) with pianist, David Miller, the complete Schumann Piano Trios (ABC Classics) with Kingfisher Trio, and Fritz Hart Music for Violin and Piano with Stephanie McCallum (Toccata Classics).
From 1992 until 2001, Susan held the position of Deputy Concertmaster of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and in 2003 was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for her contribution to Opera and Ballet. From 2014 to 2021 she was Head of Strings and Orchestra at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium following a 6-year tenure at the University of Newcastle. Now based in Queensland, she teaches at Qld Conservatorium, Griffith University. In recent years, Susan has enjoyed performing as a featured artist in music festivals including Dark Mofo, Synesthesia, Ten Days on the Island, and Bangalow festivals. In 2022, Susan conducted the Queensland Youth Orchestra and performed as a soloist for the organisation’s fundraising event, was a featured artist at the Newcastle Music Festival, joined the panel of international judges for the Lipizer Violin Competition in Italy, and conducted the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra’s final Metro Concert.
Since 2018, Susan is Musical Director of the Riverina Summer School for Strings. In 2021, she founded the Nova Muse Festival in Penguin as Artistic Director, which is a highlight of her year.
MICHELE WALSH - Festival Mentor, Violinist
A graduate of the University of Adelaide and winner of the prestigious ABC Instrumental Competition violinist Michele Walsh undertook further studies in London with distinguished violinist Szymon Goldberg.
Michele has appeared as soloist with major orchestras in Australia and has performed in the UK, USA, Europe and South-East Asia. Formerly Associate Concertmaster of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, a position she held for over a decade, she is currently Associate Professor in Violin and Head of Strings at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. Under her leadership the string faculty has attracted students from all over Australia.
Michele is a founding member of the Griffith Trio which has made several successful international tours and is a frequent guest at chamber music festivals around the country.
Michele has a particular interest in fostering young musicians and working in regional areas. She is very committed to the work of the Australian Youth Orchestra, having served as a Board member and Chair of the Artistic committee for many years. She continues close association with the AYO through membership of the Artistic Committee and Council and regular involvement in their programs.
Michele was Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music Winterschool for many years and is regular guest director of the Mount Buller Summer Chamber Music School. She is in demand as a guest teacher and frequently serves on competition juries in Australia and South-East Asia. Many of her former students are major competition prize winners and hold positions in Australia, Europe and Asia.
GWYN ROBERTS - Festival Mentor, Cellist
Gwyn was for a number of years the Principal Cellist and Associate Conductor with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Prior to this appointment, he studied with cellist Sela Trau and pedagogue Jan Sedivka at the Tasmanian Conservatorium. A Churchill Fellow, Gwyn visited a number of youth orchestras in NZ, the USA and the UK, and also performed as a cellist with various British ensembles.
He has performed as Principal Cellist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Adelaide, Auckland and Canberra Symphony Orchestras, the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, and also as Associate Principal of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
A member of a number of respected chamber music groups, Gwyn has performed with the Mayne String Trio, the Queensland Piano Trio, Ensemble I, and the contemporary ensemble Perihelion, Gwyn was the Musical Director of the Queensland University Symphony Orchestra as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Music at UQ. He also performs in a variety of solo and chamber music concerts in Australia, and is active as a teacher, and adjudicator. Gwyn is a tutor in the Young Ensemble Program at Queensland Conservatorium, and also tutors the cello section of QYS. He is researching early cello history in Australia, developing his keen interest in photography and sailing, and performing and recording together with his wife, pianist Jenni Flemming. Gwyn and Jenni have recently purchased a cottage in Port Cygnet, Tasmania, and intend to share their time between there and Brisbane.
JANET RUTHERFORD - Festival Mentor, Violist
Janet Rutherford (nee Gilby), originally from Canberra, completed her Bachelor of Music degree (violin) at the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide in 1980 and an Honors year (viola) in 1981 studying with Simon Rowland-Jones. She was then appointed to the viola section of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra (AOBO) in Sydney. After another year of study with Rowland-Jones, this time in London, she was appointed Associate – Principal Viola of the AOBO.
In 2015, after 28 years as Principal Viola of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra including many solo appearances, Janet took early retirement. She was also a member of the Tasmanian Symphony Chamber Players, and the Trigon Ensemble and appears on various recordings including the Richard Mills Concerto for Violin and Viola (TSO with Barbara Gilby conducted by Richard Mills) and the popular Waltz for Betz by James Grant, also recorded with the TSO.
Janet continues to enjoy playing chamber music and is also a keen scuba diver and lawn bowls player.
The instrument Janet plays is a Pellegrina viola made by David Rivinus in Oregon USA in 2003.
ALEXEY YEMSTOV - Festival Mentor, Pianist
Alexey Yemtsov is one of the finest pianists of his generation in Australia. Born in Ukraine, Yemtsov has won numerous prizes including First Prize and the President’s Special Prize in the Horowitz International Piano Competition (aged 12), and First Prize in the Prokoiev Competition, has performed for former US President Bill Clinton and had his live performance for the release of the “Great Pianists of the Twentieth Century” Collection (Polygram Classics) recorded for internet broadcast. He has performed in London, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and toured extensively throughout China, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Australasia and the United States.
Within Australia Alexey appeared as a soloist with the Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland, West Australian and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, and overseas has performed with orchestras such as Vancouver Symphony, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano, Auckland Philharmonic, Kiev Camerata and the National Ukrainian Orchestra, with conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Oleg Caetani, Sir Mark Elder, Lawrence Foster, Marko Letonja, Vladimir Verbitsky, Anu Tali and Simone Young.