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.

BARBARA JANE GILBY - Festival Mentor, Violinist

Barbara Jane Gilby has had a busy and diverse life with her violin. Study in Canberra and Boston USA was followed by orchestral positions in Iceland, Germany and Tasmania. At one point she had lived on three continents, in multiple cities, within 5 years, (and was thinking of setting up a house -moving consultancy) but the highlight was the 15 years she was concertmaster of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and director of the ARIA award winning Tasmanian Symphony Chamber Players.

Twenty years in Canberra followed, initially as senior lecturer at the ANU, and then teaching privately when the University dismantled its music programmes. Since her move to Braidwood NSW in 2020 she has continued teaching in Canberra and leading Canberra Strings. As well as teaching and playing violin, Barbara is interested in passing on her knowledge and skills in the area of ensemble leadership. She lives with her happy cat Kara, maintains her acquaintance with the viola, enjoys painting and hosts a weekly radio programme on Braidwood Community Radio.

SARAH SCHEERMEIJER - Festival Mentor, Violinist 

After being invited to perform the violin for the governor of Queensland at the age of 9, Sarah Scheermeijer continued violin studies with the acclaimed string educator Elizabeth Morgan AM. She was consequently a featured artist on ABC 2NR radio and gave a solo performance at the Sydney Opera House in 1999, featured as soloist in the St George Commercial on national TV (1999), and performed solo with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Quartet. She was awarded music scholarships from Somerville House, QLD Young Conservatorium of Music, Avondale College and the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, including the Australian Post Graduate Award studying under Dr Susan Collins. Currently, Sarah is a PhD candidate - Doctor of Philosophy (Music Performance) at UTAS and is the director of the North West Christian School Strings Program (Penguin, TAS).  In 2021, Sarah was awarded the AMEB Tasmania Arts Excellence Award for the largest cohort of students from any genre or instrument achieving an A+ in their exam in Tasmania. She served as the Nova Muse Festival's President from 2020-2022 and its Project Manager (2023), and was also an artist at the Ten Days on the Island Festival (2023).

LORETA FIN - Festival Mentor, Violist

We are sorry to announce that Loreta Fin is unable to come to Penguin this year. However, we are very fortunate to be able to bring Gwyn Roberts to conduct Amati Strings in her place. Gwyn will be well known to Tasmanian audiences, and we look forward to welcoming him to the 2023 Nova Muse Festival.

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.

PETER MORRISON - Festival Mentor, Cellist

Peter Morrison, cellist, composer. Born in Sydney, based in Copenhagen as a permanent member of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and recently Founder/Artistic Director of RelevanzEnsemble, which looks to address an imbalance in how music and the general arts involves itself in the world’s most pressing issues. His recent solo album, Thought I Saw Your Face, (4 stars Limelight Magazine) presents works around the theme of depression and mental health.

He was previously employed full time with Sydney Symphony and worked regularly with The Australian Chamber Orchestra. He has guested a variety of orchestral and ensemble cello sections over a 30-year professional period. He served as a board member for the New Music Network in Australia and ran Ensemble-24 in Australia for 7 years, touring nationally and internationally for Musica Viva and recording for Naxos.

He teaches privately and online and has lectured and given performance masterclasses at major music academies in Australia and various institutions around the EU. He has spoken on gender diversity issues at music conferences, as well as working with young musicians and teenagers from less affluent parts of society on various projects held in Australia, India, Singapore, and Denmark.

As a composer, Peter has so far composed 45 acoustic works, with recent commissions from Finland, Denmark as well as performances by BBC National Orchestra Wales, Gidon Kremer, Nikolaj Znaider amongst others. He is a member of the Danish Composer’s Association.

In his spare time he writes poetry and is also much focused on environmental issues, and was the spokesperson and lobbyist for Stop Ecocide Denmark between 2019-2022. He has also been active (2018-2020) as a consultant for the pan-European political party Volt Denmark. Regarding other humanitarian concerns, he is interested in refugee integration issues.

MARTIN PENICKA - Festival Mentor, Cellist

Martin Penicka studied with Lois Simpson and Julian Smiles at the Australian Institute of Music. He graduated in 2002 with the degree of Bachelor of Music (Performance) with first-class honours. During his studies, he played in many chamber ensembles, most notably with the award-winning Con Brio Trio. In 1999 Martin Penicka took part in a tour to the USA organised by the Performing Arts Unit to complement the Art Express exhibition in the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC. A solo artist in the Symphony Australia Conducting Program in 2001, Martin Penicka has been a casual member of the Sydney, Melbourne and WA Symphony Orchestras. He was a semi-finalist in the 2004 Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards and the 2MBS FM Young Performers Award. Martin Penicka has been an ANAM Academy Musician at the Australian National Academy of Music. In 2006 and 2007, Martin was involved in the Sydney Symphony fellowship program. Martin joined the TSO in August 2008. 

Martin regularly plays in chamber music ensembles around Tasmania including the newly formed Baroque ensemble Van Diemen's Band. He has appeared on several ABC Classic FM Sunday Live Broadcasts.

photographer credit: Remi Chauvin. 

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. 


Born in Germany to a musical family, Luisiana moved to Australia before learning the violin at 3 and a half. Tutored in her early years by Suzuki pedagogue Haruo Goto, Luisiana was invited to perform solo before the governor of Queensland at the age of 9. Whilst receiving violin studies with acclaimed string educator Elizabeth Morgan AM, she was a featured artist on ABC 2NR radio and appeared as soloist at the Sydney Opera House and QPAC. Luisiana featured as soloist with her twin sister in the St George Bank television Commercial (1999) and at the Tropicana Festival. She later played as soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Quartet and later was presented with a music scholarship to attend Somerville House. Luisiana performed solo for the National String Teachers Convention QLD, followed by a performance at Parliament House as a "Young Music Achiever". Luisiana also received a music tuition bursary by the St George Foundation, a QLD Young Conservatorium music scholarship and the Marjory Walters Music Scholarship. Directed by Loreta Fin, Luisiana performed with Somerville Strings and the Senior String Consort who won first place in the Premier Grade Strings at the Australian Academy Festival of Music and had the prestigious honour of being presented with the TOAN (The Orchestras Of Australia Network) award for Best National School Orchestra (2004).  Luisiana has experience as a Violin Tutor in both Brisbane and Sydney and is currently Music Coordinator at NWCS. Reecently she has completed a Teaching Kodaly Music Level 1 certificate from Queensland University, a Primary Kodaly level II accredited certificate and Teaching Orff Music Level 1 certificate.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.


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