Monica Curro

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Violinist Monica Curro is currently in her 20th year as Assistant Principal 2nd Violin of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and was a core member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra for 5 years before that. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1987 and completed a Masters Degree at Michigan State University in 1991, studying with Walter Verdehr. She has played with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, as Principal 2nd Violin with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Concertmaster of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and The Auckland Chamber Orchestra.

Monica is a member of the Board of Directors of the Australian Youth Orchestra, and regularly tutors for their orchestral and chamber music programs. She has taught violin at The University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts, and has coached chamber music and taught violin and viola at the Australian National Academy of Music and its Young Academy.

In 2009 Monica was honoured to be invited as the only Australian to play in the World Orchestra for Peace conducted by Valery Gergiev for concerts in Poland and Sweden. She joined them in 2010 for concerts in London and Salzburg, in Abu Dhabi for 2011, in New York and Chicago for 2012, and in London for 2014. Monica is also a member of the Australian World Orchestra, who last year performed with Sir Simon Rattle in Sydney and Melbourne, and with Zubin Mehta on tour in India.

Monica recently gave the world premiere, as co-soloist with her sister Sarah, of Stefan Cassomenos' Double Violin Concerto for acoustic, semi-acoustic and electric violins. In October 2013, she appeared as a soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and appears regularly as part of MSO's Chamber Series. She is a founding member of PLEXUS.

Philip Arkinstall

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Philip has been Associate Principal Clarinet of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2009, and was principal with the Malaysian Philharmonic for 11 years before that. After completing his Bachelor of Music at the Sydney Conservatorium under Peter Jenkin, he went on to win the ABC Young Performers Award in 1997 playing the Francaix Concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and was the 2MBS radio performer of the year in 1996. Philip has been guest principal with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, and has appeared both as soloist and as guest principal with the Sydney, West Australian, Queensland, Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony orchestras. He has appeared regularly as a soloist with the Malaysian Philharmonic in repertoire ranging from Mozart to Henze, Copland, Weber, Strauss, Bruch, Stamitz, Bernstein and Stravinsky amongst others. His playing has been reviewed as “mellifluous, engaging and assured”.

Philip's first love however is chamber music, and he has collaborated with some of the worlds finest musicians and ensembles in that realm. These include the Goldner Quartet, Eggner Trio, Auer Quartet, Wilma and Friends, Australia Ensemble, Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, as well as many contemporary ensembles including the Arcko, Alpha Ensemble and Australysis groups. Since 2012 he has appeared regularly with and toured South America and Europe with the sensational Camerata Bern of Switzerland under the leadership of Antje Weithaas. He is a founding member of the new Melbourne Winds ensemble, with whom he toured China in 2014, and is particularly proud to be a founding member of PLEXUS.

Philip has given masterclasses across Asia under the MPO umbrella and in South America for Camerata Bern, and teaches clarinet through Melbourne University. He has tutored at the National Music Camp, the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Melbourne Youth Orchestra, and has conducted various small ensembles at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in Kuala Lumpur and across Malaysia.

Stefan Cassomenos

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Melbourne pianist and composer Stefan Cassomenos is one of Australia’s most vibrant and versatile musicians. Stefan has performed internationally since the age of 10, and performed the premiere of his own composition Piano Concerto No 1: Aegean Odyssey with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the age of 16. More recently, he has performed concertos with the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra Victoria. Stefan now gives regular solo recitals and concerto performances throughout Australia, Europe, and Asia, having appeared as a soloist in St Petersburg, Tallinn, Warsaw, Krakow, Bonn, Athens, Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, London, Bangkok, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Tokyo. Performances in 2014–15 include recitals in Zurich (Tonhalle), Leipzig (Gewandhaus), Bonn, Weimar, Ludwigshafen, Kirchheimbolanden, Malta, London and throughout the UK, and concertos with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra, and Corpus Medicorum.

In 2013, he was a grand finalist and recipient of the Second Grand Prize in the prestigious International Telekom Beethoven Piano Competition Bonn, in Germany. He was also the recipient of the Chamber Music Prize. In 2012, he was a grand finalist in the Rhodes International Piano Competition. He has also been a grand finalist and prize-winner in the 2013 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, the 2013 ABC Symphony Australia Young Performer Awards, the 2009 Melbourne Asia-Pacific Chamber Music Competition, and the 2009 Trieste International Chamber Music Competition.

Stefan’s compositions are regularly commissioned and performed throughout Australia, and his music has been performed by the Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, the Queensland Youth Symphony, Orchestra 21, and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir. He is also active as an artistic director of various festivals, projects and collaborations, and he is a founding member of PLEXUS.

Stefan is generously supported by Kawai Australia and by the Youth Music Foundation of Australia.