Margaret Blades – Violin

Violinist Margaret Blades has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader nationally and internationally throughout her distinguished career. As a soloist, she has performed on several occasions with the Adelaide, WA and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, the Auckland Philharmonia, Fremantle Chamber Orchestra and Adelaide Chamber Orchestra. She has premiered new works for solo violin and orchestra by esteemed Australian composers Ross Edwards, Richard Mills and James Ledger, and has appeared alongside superstar Nigel Kennedy in Vivaldi Concerto for 2 violins. Highlights of her career include playing Concertmaster for the Australian premiere of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, conducted by Sir Jeffrey Tate, and performing with orchestras including the Australian Chamber Orchestrra, Sydney Symphony and Australian World Orchestra in some of the world's most prestigious concert halls including Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) Wigmore Hall and Royal Albert Hall (London). She has held the Associate Concertmaster position with both the Adelaide and West Australian Symphony Orchestras. Since 2017 Margaret has been Guest Leader of the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra, and recently performed with QSO in Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Opera Australia. Margaret has taught violin at the University of WA, has been on the faculty of Elder Conservatorium (Adelaide), the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and the WAAPA. She has tutored and directed at Australian Youth Orchestra programmes and has built up a strong violin pedagogy practice in her private studio. She has broadcast many recitals for ABC Classic FM and played in chamber music recitals at the Adelaide and Perth International Arts Festivals.

Michael Russo – Violin

Having completed a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Performance on Violin, Michael has performed in a number of Australia’s youth orchestras, before joining the GCCO as a principal Second Violinist. Michael has had the privilege of playing in the Sydney Opera House with the Australian Youth Orchestra, and for the Archibald Prize. Highlight performances include playing as soloist for Piazzolla's Four Seasons of Buenos Aires with the Gold Coast Chamber Orchestra, leading Fiddler on the Roof and Oliver! with a number of Queensland's leading theatre productions, and performing as a frequent guest with the Queensland Accordion Orchestra.

Dawn Bennett - Viola

Dawn is Assistant Provost and Director of the Transformation CoLab with Bond University. She began professional life as a musician in the UK and Australia, working as a chamber musician and then with the major orchestras. Dawn’s PhD explored the working lives of classically trained musicians and the education needed to prepare them. Her higher education expertise is the enhancement of student success and graduate employability.

Dr Hugh Won – Violin

Hugh obtained his Associate Diploma in 1991 whilst studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He won the National Youth Concerto Competition in 1992 and was a finalist in the 2MBS-FM Young Performers Award and a state finalist in the ABC Young Performers Award. Hugh played in the Australian Youth Orchestra and took part in seven international tours. He was also Concertmaster of the Sydney Youth Orchestra for two years. Professionally, he has played in the Australian Chamber Orchestra and for professional theatre productions in Sydney.

Chen Yang – Violin

As his first professional musical undertaking, Chen was the Concertmaster of the Queensland Theatre Orchestra. In 1981, he joined the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in the first violin section until 1989. For a change, Chen then spent two years as Musician in Residence on Dunk Island Resort leading a string quartet and performing as a cabaret violinist. He has been a freelance musician for many major musical productions at QPAC. Chen has conducted various ensembles for the Queensland Youth Orchestra and is presently leader and conductor of the Sinfonia of St Andrews orchestra in Brisbane. He is also often guest conductor of this orchestra.

Alison Fletcher – Violin

Alison studied flute and piano as well as violin before graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium with an Associate Diploma in Music Performance and a Bachelor’s Degree in Performance in 1991. She has played in several chamber groups and regional orchestras and is currently Concertmaster of the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra.

Byron Mengel – Viola

Byron received his Bachelor Degree in Violin and a second Bachelor Degree in Composition from the University of Missouri in 1971. He was then accepted into a conducting masters program at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. From 1977, Byron played with the Royal Opera of Turin before receiving a permanent position with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, playing with them for seven years.

Ayesha Gough – Piano

Australian pianist Ayesha Gough is developing her own style of unique and engaging performances grounded in traditional pianism. As the recipient of the 2022 Michael Kieran Harvey Scholarship, she has developed Landings: an exploration of Australian musical identity through improvisation, poetry, and film created within multiple landscapes, viewable on her YouTube channel. First prize-winner at the 2015 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, Ayesha has performed with the Russian National Orchestra in December 2018, under the baton of Mikhail Pletnev. She has also performed with the Queensland Symphony, the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony, and the Queensland Pops Orchestra. Her recital opportunities have taken her throughout Australia, as well as New Zealand, Italy, Japan, and China. Ayesha studied under Oleg Stepanov for 10 years, both at a pre-tertiary and tertiary level at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. Throughout 2018, she continued study in Italy with Boris Petrushansky at the Accademia Pianistica Internazionale “Incontri col Maestro”. In 2020, she graduated from the Royal College of Music, London, with a Masters with Distinction. At RCM she studied with Andrew Zolinsky and Gordon Fergus-Thompson. Ayesha has received multiple awards and has been supported by Variety, the Children’s Charity, of which she is an International Ambassador.