Kathryn Stott, piano

Kathryn Stott, piano

At the age of five, I made friends with the upright piano in our living room. That was the beginning of my musical journey, one which continues as you read this.

It would appear that my initial progress was rapid and by the age of eight, I found myself at a boarding school for young musicians, the Yehudi Menuhin School. During my studies there, it’s now clear to me that I was heavily influenced by two occasional visitors to the school; Nadia Boulanger and Vlado Perlmuter. From them, my great passion for French music was ignited and Fauré in particular has remained the musical love of my life. Further studies at the Royal College of Music in London then led me very abruptly into the life of a professional musician via the Leeds International Piano Competition. It remains the steepest learning curve I’ve ever experienced.

After a rollercoaster three years, I realised that I needed to re-connect with chamber music in a bid to feel more connected to other musicians and after all, this had played an important part of my musical existence since being a child. When, quite by chance, I met Yo-Yo Ma in 1978, it turned out to be one of the most fortuitous moments of my life. Since 1985, we have enjoyed a collaboration which has taken us to so many fascinating parts of the world and led to musical adventures with musicians who shared so much from their own traditions. I’ve always considered us to be intrepid musical explorers on our own individual paths but with an incredible bond that unites us on the creative highway.

Presently, I enjoy the challenge of creativity in a different way by bringing many musicians together once a year in my role as Artistic Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. My love of curating and directing began in 1995 and since then I’ve brought to life many of my ideas in events lasting anything from long weekends to two weeks. I continue to push my capacity for exploring music I know nothing about and love bringing together unusual combinations whenever possible.

There are too many highlights in my career to mention. Yes, it was a thrill to perform at the Last Night of the Proms to millions around the world, but equally a massive thrill to have lit up twenty small faces in an inner city school while they jumped up and down to energetic piano music! Working with young musicians is something I feel passionate about and presently teach at the Academy of Music in Oslo. I’ve also had some truly exciting music written for me and enjoyed a particularly close collaboration with composer Graham Fitkin. What an unbelievable privilege it is to be immersed in a language which has no boundaries and has allowed me to share musical stories on a global scale; that little upright piano set me on quite a path! Talking of paths - I’ve also been found trekking in Nepal, Costa Rica, Bhutan or walking my spaniel Archie on the Yorkshire Moors. The journey continues.
Curt Thompson, violin

Curt Thompson, violin

Violinist Curt Thompson performs throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia as a concerto soloist, recitalist, concertmaster, and chamber musician in such prestigious venues as Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Salle Gaveau (Paris), Teatro Naçional de Costa Rica (San José), Shanghai Concert Hall, and others. Thompson’s debut recording of the violin sonatas by Charles Ives (Naxos) has received outstanding reviews worldwide, including Gramophone, The Strad, The Wire, and The New York Times, where it was included in a listing of “Critics’ Favorites" and was called “…a hole in one…perfectly demonstrating [Ives’] spicy, earthy rawness and appeal…." The recording has been broadcast world wide, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio’s Performance Today, WRR 101.1 FM (Dallas), WGBH 89.7 (Boston), Aspen Public Radio and others. His live performance of the four Ives sonatas was included in the annual “‘Top 10’ Musical Events of the Year" listing in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Concerto appearances include the Qingdao Symphony Orchestra (China), Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra (Colombia), the Corpus Christi, San Angelo, Las Colinas, Arlington and Garland symphonies, and the Texas Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Thompson has been a featured artist in the Copland/Shostakovich Festival (Rio de Janeiro), the Festival de Primavera (Oaxaca, Mexico), the Seventh Centennial Festival of Villarobledo (Spain), Inter-Harmony International Music Festival (Hinterzarten, Germany) and Clefworks Chamber Music Festival (Montgomery, AL). In addition, he is Concertmaster of the Corpus Christi, Las Colinas and San Angelo Symphonies, the Texas Chamber Orchestra, and has served as Concertmaster of the Fort Worth Symphony (by special invitation) and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra (Italy).

Curt Thompson is Founder and Executive Director of the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, which will celebrate its 17th season in Fort Worth July 3-11, and its second season in Melbourne Sept. 1-7, 2014. Featuring an array of internationally recognized performing artists, the festival also instructs Young Artists from across the globe. Mimir has enjoyed critical acclaim by North Texas audiences and media. The Dallas Morning News (six times), Fort Worth Star-Telegram (five) and TheaterJones.com (three) have cited Mimir in their annual “‘Top 10’ Musical Events of the Year" listings and it has been noted in The New York Times and Travel & Liesure magazine as a summer hot spot.

Thompson joined the faculty of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music/Victorian College of the Arts in 2012. He has served on the faculties of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he was selected as the sabbatical replacement for Russian virtuoso Nelli Shkolnikova, and for fifteen years at the TCU School of Music (Fort Worth, Texas). He has given master classes and presentations at several prestigious institutions including the Royal Academy of Music (London), The Juilliard School, the Bulgarian State Academy of Music, El Escorial Conservatory (Spain), Beijing Central Conservatory, Shenyang Conservatory, and the University of Saõ Paulo (Brazil). In 2007 he served on the jury of the Pancho Vladigerov International Violin Competition (Plovdiv, Bulgaria).

Curt holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate from Indiana University and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rice University. His principal teachers include Nelli Shkolnikova, Sergiu Luca, Rostislav Dubinsky (chamber music) and Stanley Ritchie (Baroque violin).
Carla Blackwood, French Horn

Carla Blackwood, French Horn

Australian French Horn Player Carla Blackwood recently returned to Australia after over a decade living in Europe to take up the position of Lecturer in Music in French Horn Performance at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, at the University of Melbourne. Prior to this Carla was principal horn of the Tiroler Symphony Orchestra Innsbruck, Austria and horn professor at the Tiroler Landeskonservatorium for Music in Innsbruck. A passionate chamber musician and lover of variety, Carla regularly performs in a range of orchestras, as a soloist, and in chamber music projects across Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and in her home country Australia, on both modern horn and period instruments.

Successful auditions have moved Carla around Europe and the world. She has worked as guest principal horn with the SWR Sinfonie Orchestra Baden Baden und Freiburg, Vienna Radio Orchestra (RSO Wien), Camerata Salzburg, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Swedish Philharmonic Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, and Melbourne, Tasmanian and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. In addition she has had contracts with the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Musikkollegium Winterthur, and performed with the NDR Sinfonie Orchestra Hamburg, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Wiener Symphoniker, Sinfonie Orchester St Gallen, Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and many more.

Carla first spread her wings and left her home town of Bathurst to study at the Sydney Conservatorium under Geoff Collinson and Ben Jacks. Whilst studying for her Bachelor degree Carla performed regularly with the Sydney Symphony, developed her enthusiasm for opera playing with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, and toured with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. She was member of the Australian Youth Orchestra already at the age of 16 and continued to be involved in AYO throughout her time as student in Australia. Sydney Sinfonia, the then training orchestra of the Sydney Symphony, was similarly important in Carla's musical education, an ensemble of which she was a member throughout her Australian studies.

In 2004 Carla's love of music and hunger for adventure brought her to Austria, where she undertook postgraduate study with Hector McDonald and engrossed herself in the rich cultural life of Vienna. Lucky enough to be the winner of numerous scholarships, Carla's unabated curiosity led her to move to Basel in 2006, where she undertook further postgraduate study with Christian Lampert and Horst Ziegler. In addition to her studies on modern horn, Carla's interest in early music was awakened through her minor study of natural horn under Thomas Müller. Later studies in soloist performance led Carla to Radovan Vlatkovic in Zürich, with natural horn studies under Glen Borling.

In her free time Carla enjoys bushwalking (or hiking, depending on the continent!), yoga, swimming, knitting and reading.

Clarinetists of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

Clarinetists of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music

Clarinet students from the studio of David Griffiths at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music