Flinders Quartet welcomes local violinist Wilma Smith

Flinders Quartet
Flinders Quartet

ABC Classic FM listeners will have heard of Australia’s Flinders Quartet (FQ) – one of Australia’s best-loved chamber music ensembles. This year they celebrate their 20th birthday with an outstanding series of concerts, sharing the cake and candles with Beethoven – commemorating his 250th year. Joining the awesome foursome in 2020 is Wilma Smith playing on a 1761 Guadagnini violin. The group comprises Thibaud Pavlovic- Hobba (violin) and founding members Zoe Knighton (cello) and Helen Ireland (viola).
Although Wilma was born in Fiji and raised in Auckland, as she and her family now reside in Glen Iris, we’ll claim them as our own. Wilma studied at the New England Conservatory under legendary Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner, eventually playing in the Boston Symphony Orchestra and leading the Harvard Chamber Orchestra. She has led the SSO, WASO, TSO and Auckland Philharmonic as guest concertmaster and played with the Australian World Orchestra.
After early professional experience with the Auckland Symphonia and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, she continued her studies in Boston at the New England Conservatory with Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner, playing in masterclasses for Josef Gingold, Yehudi Menuhin, Sándor Végh and others. An invitation to form the New Zealand String Quartet took her back to Wellington in 1987. In 1993 she was appointed Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and in 2003 became Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO).
The MSO’s Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis has stated that, of all the performances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending he has conducted, Wilma Smith’s was “unquestionably the most beautiful”. He describes her as “an exceptional musician with whom [he] felt an immediate rapport”. Wilma retired from the MSO in 2014. She has a longstanding duo partnership with pianist Michael Houstoun and has performed in various ensembles. She also curates her own chamber music series, Wilma & Friends, based at Scotch College where every year she puts together three different groups and programs including masterpieces, premieres and undiscovered gems. Emerging young artists and established colleagues work together.
Although Wilma & Friends perform around Victoria, interstate, and in New Zealand, home base is one of Melbourne’s finest chamber music venues, Ian Roach Hall at Scotch College, Hawthorn. After joining FQ as guest violinist in 2018 and 2019, she was appointed as a permanent violinist in November 2019.
Flinders Quartet’s March, June and October programs will be performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Montsalvat Barn Gallery in Eltham and the Collins Street Baptist Church – with featured guest artist Lloyd Van’t Hoff joining them to play Mozart’s divine Clarinet Quintet K581 in the climactic October concerts. FQ’s Commemorative 20th Anniversary brochure contains the full 2020 concert program, artist details, media reviews and personal messages from the cream of the music world (including composers and former ensemble members). For further information visit www.flindersquartet.com