Every year Wilma Smith, celebrated kiwi violinist, puts together three different groups of musical friends she thinks might create some exciting chemistry and they put together programmes full of variety and appeal, from premieres to revered masterpieces and undiscovered gems from every musical era.
A favourite with audiences, Wilma is the former Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and founding member of the New Zealand String Quartet. She was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She studied in Auckland then in Boston at the New England Conservatory before becoming first violinist of the Lydian String Quartet. While the quartet was her professional focus in Boston, she also worked regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was Concertmaster of the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and Handel and Haydn Society. Invited to return home to form the New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma was first violinist of the group for five years before the NZSO appointed her Concertmaster. She has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with a number of orchestras and teaches violin at Melbourne and Monash Universities. She moved to Australia in 2003 to take up the position of Concertmaster with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Wilma will be joined by English born Caroline Henbest who studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Guildhall School of Music. Caroline may be familiar as principal viola with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In demand as chamber music partner in festivals and concerts all over the world, Caroline has also performed as guest principal viola with many orchestras, including the Sydney Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Philharmonia, City of London Sinfonia Glyndebourne on Tour and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
The other members of the group are two illustrious kiwi students. Wellingtonian, Alexandra Partridge (cello) holds a Masters of Musical Arts from the New Zealand School of Music. During her time there, she was the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards including the NZ School of Music Director’s Scholarship. She is currently studying at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne and is a member of the Queensbridge Trio. This year, Alexandra has been selected as an Australian Chamber Orchestra Emerging Artist and has recently returned from a tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Germany after having successfully auditioned for their 2016 Academy Residency program. Andrew Leathwick is a pianist and composer and teaches piano at the University of Waikato. Andrew began piano lessons at the age of nine. In 2010, he began studying piano with Katherine Austin at the University of Waikato, where he completed the requirements for a Master of Music with First Class Honours in 2014. While there Andrew was the winner of many awards and competitions, including the University of Waikato Cultural and Arts Person of the Year Award, the University of Waikato Concerto Competition, the University of Waikato Lilburn Trust Composition Awards, and the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal. In 2013, Andrew won the New Zealand National Concerto Competition with his performance of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto, also receiving the Junior Jury Prize and Audience Choice Award. In 2015 and 2016, Andrew studied piano at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in Melbourne.
Wilma has commissioned Andrew to write a piano quartet especially for this tour as she feels his compositional style is original while being very accessible and appealing.
Beethoven: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major op. 16
Andrew Leathwick: Piano Quartet No. 1 (new commission)
Dvořák: Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major op. 87