Guest Artists in the Next Concert

Melbourne Cappella

Melbourne Capella Chamber Choir
Melbourne Capella Chamber Choir

Founded in 2009, Melbourne Cappella Chamber choir is an ensemble consisting of professional choral and operatic singers. The members of ensemble include composers, finalists and prize winners of Australia’s most prestigious singing competitions. The size of the ensemble varies depending on the demands of the music. The ensemble takes the name “Cappella” from the Imperial Court Cappella of Melbourne’s sister city- St Petersburg. The Imperial Court Cappella was founded on the choral traditions of composer Dimitry Bortniansky (1751-1825). During Bortniansky’s tenure, the choir not only sang at services in the court churches, but also became increasingly involved in concert performances of opera, masses, oratorios, motets, and cantatas by non-Russian composers. Melbourne Cappella continues this same tradition of performing both sacred and secular repertoire whilst maintaining musical excellence under the direction of Nicholas Cowall. Melbourne Cappella has presented the Australian premieres of works by Andrew Ford, Pavel Chesnokov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich, and has performed at Melbourne’s finest concert venues including the Melbourne Recital Centre, Hamer Hall and Rippon Lea Estate.

Nicholas Cowall - conductor

Nicholas Cowall - conductor
Nicholas Cowall - conductor

Nicholas Cowall is an experienced music educator, conductor, vocal coach, and singer. He is one of the leading interpreters and promoters of Russian Choral and Vocal Music in Australia and has conducted opera, orchestral and choral ensembles both in Australia and overseas. Nicholas has worked as a Director of Music in both Catholic and Independent school settings in Melbourne and has completed tertiary music study at Monash University, Melbourne University, the Moscow Conservatoire and the Victorian College of the Arts. In 2016 he was awarded a Medal of Merit from the Russian Australian Representative Council for his work in promoting Russian Music in Australia. Nicholas has delivered courses in conducting at Monash University and has assisted in preparing choirs for Vladimir Ashkenazy, Oleg Caetani, Simon Halsey, Valery Gergiev, Marcus Stenz and Carlo Ricci. He is currently the Head of Choral Music at Xavier College in Melbourne, the current chair of the Australia and New Zealand Diocesan Liturgical Music Committee (ROCOR), a freelance conductor, choral workshop clinician and adjudicator.

Guest Artists in 2024

Judith Dodsworth - soprano

Judith Dodsworth - soprano 2024

As a classical soprano of “extraordinary range and versatility”, Judith Dodsworth is equally at home in opera, chamber music and on the concert platform. She has long been a champion of new and diverse vocal repertoire, ranging from the pre-baroque to works upon which the ink is still drying. Following studies in Canberra, London, Vienna and Melbourne and numerous performances, developments and recordings in Australia and overseas, she has established a reputation as one of Australia’s leading exponents of contemporary classical vocal music.

Judith’s operatic roles have included Carmen (OzOpera), Greta in Metamorphosis (Victorian Opera), Sophie in From a Black Sky (The Street Theatre), lead roles in Rameau’s Pygmalion (Stopera), Opiume (Singapore and Hong Kong Festivals), Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot (with Syzygy Ensemble) and A Drone Opera (Experimenta). Judith sang the role of Clara in the premiere of Gordon Kerry’s Midnight Son for Victorian Opera with less than twenty-four hours’ notice. She was one of four soloists in the premiere of Cat Hope’s acclaimed new opera Speechless for Perth Festival.

Notable performances in 2023/2024 have included the Australian premiere of Naarasäiti (The Lustful Mother) by Finnish composer Outi Tarkiainen with the Australian String Quartet, as well as Pierre Boulez’s seminal Le marteau sans maître, in Chamber Landscapes for Adelaide Festival. She returned to South Australia in November for UKARIA 24 with UK violinist Anthony Marwood and will give the world premiere of Is this the Gate? by Nicholas Lens at the 2024 Adelaide Festival. Other upcoming performances in 2024 include Homophonic! in Midsumma Festival and recitals at Tempo Rubato and Music at McClelland Gallery with harpsichordist Joy Lee.

With award-winning composer Kevin March and supported by Creative Australia and Kingston Council for the Arts, Judith is currently developing and performing The Unknown Swimmer. This immersive and deeply personal chamber opera to her own libretto will premiere at fortyfivedownstairs’ festival of chamber music.

Judith thrives on her continued collaboration with a wide range of composers, creators, musicians, artists and ensembles, and as a performer, writer, educator and illustrator, she is passionate about cross-disciplinary art.

Vivien Hamilton - mezzo-soprano

Vivien Hamilton (for 2024)

Vivien Hamilton is a Melbourne-based singer and music educator who has chalked up forty years in the music profession. Her musical passions and innate curiosity led her into a musical career in which she has explored seven centuries of musical style — from the medieval era, through opera and into the 21st century — through the prism of historically informed and contemporary performance practice.

Vivien studied with Molly McGurk (Artsong: Perth, WA) and Jane Manning (Contemporary song: UK), David Mason (Opera: UK) and musicology (specialising the French Baroque Music) with Professor David Tunley (University of Western Australia). But Vivien counts the influence of her parents' love for music as a prime instigator in her desire to pursue music as a profession. Her father Tom sang tenor in the Edinburgh Festival Chorus performance of Mahler's 2nd Symphony at Ely Cathedral under the baton of Leonard Bernstein, a dramatisation which can be seen in the film "Maestro" starring Bradley Cooper.

Vivien's singing is renowned for its nuanced lyricism and vibrant tonal clarity, whether she finds herself on the concert hall stage, singing for festivals, on radio and television or on film. She is equally at home as soloist or ensemble player and has performed with Kent Opera, New Sadlers Wells Opera, The Hilliard Ensemble, BBC Singers, e21, Blackbird (USA), 6 Degrees, Icon Trio, Barry Kosky, and pianists Len Vorster, Ian Munro and Glenn Riddle, amongst others.

Vivien taught at tertiary level for Monash University where she conducted the Women's Choir and Rockin' Jazz Swingers and singing at the Australian Catholic University. Whilst on staff at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music she was director of Early Voices 2005-2015 — an ensemble which has produced professional singers working in Europe with Jordi Savall, Paul Hillier, Emma Kirkby (e.g. Ars Nova Copenhagen, Bach Collegium Barcelona, La Capella Real de Catalunya, Las Huelgas, Lux Musicae, Theatre of Voices, Vienna VolkOper, Westminster Abbey, etc) — and also lectured in vocal pedagogy for the Bachelor and Master of Music Education degrees at the University of Melbourne.

"A versatile vocalist with unerring control" and "splendidly accomplished" Clive O'Connell, The Age

For more details please visit

Murray McLachlan - piano

Murray McLachlan

Since making his professional debut in 1986 at the age of 21 under the baton of Sir Alexander Gibson, Murray McLachlan has consistently received outstanding critical acclaim. Educated at Chetham’s School of Music and Cambridge University, his mentors included Ronald Stevenson, David Hartigan, Ryszard Bakst, Peter Katin and Norma Fisher.

His recording career began in 1988 and immediately attracted international attention. Recordings of contemporary music have won numerous accolades, including full star ratings, as well as ‘rosette’ and ‘key recording’ status in the Penguin Guide to CDs, and ‘Disc of the month’ and ‘Record of the month ‘in ‘Music on the Web’ and ‘The Herald’. In 2020 he recorded the complete piano works of Edward Gregson for Naxos and 2019 the Ruth Gipps concerto with the RLPO under Charles Peebles for SOMM. 2023 saw the release of a five CD box set world Premiere recording cycle of the complete piano sonatas of Geoffrey Allen (1926-2021).

McLachlan’s repertoire includes over 40 concertos and 25 recital programmes. He has given first performances of works by many composers and has appeared as soloist with most of the leading UK orchestras. His recognition has been far-reaching, bringing invitations to perform on all five continents.

McLachlan teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music and at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester where he has been Head of Keyboard since 1997. In 2001 he founded the world famous Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists which is now in its 22nd season. Billed as ‘The Friendliest Summer School in the World’ it is the largest event of its kind devoted exclusively to piano and annually attracts over three hundred participants and an international faculty of over sixty celebrated pianist-teachers.

As well as performing and teaching Murray McLachlan is well known internationally for his numerous articles on Piano technique and repertoire. In particular he has written for International Piano magazine in a column which is now in its twenty-second year. His three books on technique ‘The Foundations of technique’, ‘Piano Technique in Practice’ and ‘The Psychology of Piano Technique’ were published by Faber, have been reprinted several times and received wide international acclaim. In 2013 the University of Dundee awarded Murray McLachlan and honorary doctorate for services to music and education. See

Roman Ponomariov - horn

Roman Ponomariov 2024

Roman Ponomariov’s work as a teacher, academic, and performer is unified by his commitment to achieving artistic excellence. Roman has performed with all of the major Australian Symphony Orchestras and is a recipient of several awards for excellence in music. He frequently tutors the participants of the Australian Youth Orchestra, and Melbourne Youth Orchestra, as well as presents guest masterclasses.

Roman has produced broadcast recordings for 3MBS and ABC Classic FM, and as a soloist has featured alongside the Western Australian Youth Orchestra and Adelaide Symphony, Zelman, Stonnington, and Heidelberg Symphony Orchestras.

A champion of chamber repertoire, Roman frequently collaborates with local and international artists. He is the Coordinator of Brass and a lecturer in classical performance (French Horn) at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance at Monash University.

Josephine Vains - cello

Josephine Vains (with cello scroll)

Josephine is a versatile and engaging performer, heard regularly in concert around Australia and overseas as a cellist and chamber musician. She has worked with myriad artists on diverse projects including piano trio/quartet /quintet, string quartet, opera, baroque ensembles, contemporary and electronic music, and Argentine tango music. She is a passionate educator, currently training the next generation of musicians at Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and the University of Melbourne. She is a regular tutor for Melbourne and Australian Youth Orchestra, Mt. Buller and Clunes Chamber Music, Pettmann National Junior Academy (NZ) and for iartschool (China).

Josephine is a founding member of Firebird Trio, lauded as a ‘fabulous internal communicator’ in The Age. Equally at home on modern and period instruments, Josephine performs and records regularly with other ensembles including Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Ludovico’s Band, Accademia Arcadia, Elysium Ensemble and Melbourne Baroque Orchestra.

In Australia she has performed for Musica Viva and Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne Festivals. International performances include at the Musicfest Vancouver, White Nights Festival (Russia), Longyou Caves Festival (China) and Akaroa Chamber Music Festival (NZ).

Today she performs on a Thomas Dodd Cello, (1800) London, on loan from the estate of Annette Martin.

Yi Wang - violin

Yi Wang

Yi is a prize winner of both the Chinese National violin competition and Rudolf Lipizer International competition held in Italy. After completing his undergraduate study at the Beijing Central Conservatory with Prof. Zhi Long Wang, Yi travelled to London to continue his postgraduate course with the world-renowned violinist and educator Yfrah Neaman. He was awarded the prestigious Concert Recital Diploma-Premier Prix in 1994 and in 1995 was offered the position of Assistant Concertmaster with the Welsh National Opera.

Yi came to Australia in 1997 to join the Australian Chamber Orchestra and from 2001-2007 he was Principal First Violin with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, with which he was also Acting Concertmaster and Associate Concertmaster. Yi was director and leader of Virtuosi Tasmania Chamber Orchestra and he also led the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria on many occasions. In 2008 he moved to Melbourne to join Orchestra Victoria as Principal Violin, now holding the deputy concertmaster position.

As a soloist, Yi has performed with the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Moldova Symphony and Chinese Youth Orchestra and has given recitals in London, Beijing, Sydney, Melbourne, Weimar, Hobart, Suffolk (UK) and Hangzhou (China).

In recent years, Yi has been involved in developing music education in China, including participating in the Beijing Chamber Music Festival, giving masterclasses in the Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing) and Macau Conservatory, also leading and directing the Chinese Youth Orchestra. He teaches violin in both Melbourne University and Monash University, tutoring for Australian Youth Orchestra at the same time. He is a founding member of the Melbourne-based Waratah String Quartet. Yi’s violin is made by the Italian master Riccardo Antoniazzi.

Upcoming Events

Rigg Bequest Classic Music 2023 - 2024: Concert 3

Voices of Grandeur - Bluestone Classics at St Kilda Presbyterian Church

An unforgettable afternoon featuring Melbourne Cappella Chamber Choir, under the direction of Nicholas Cowall, accompanied by pianist Rohan Murray. A blend of vocal prowess and piano artistry, within a repertoire spanning the soulful depths of Orthodox chant to the dramatic peaks of Italian opera and Russian and Hungarian romanticism.

Works include Pavel Chesnokov’s ethereal "Let my prayer Arise" Op. 24 No. 8, Franz Liszt's "Missa quattuor vocum ad aequales" S. 8, a selection of arias and choruses by Giacomo Puccini and Tchaikovsky's famous "1812 Overture", ingeniously arranged for piano by the composer himself. Afternoon tea refreshments will be available also, served by Friends of the Team of Pianists.

Download the concert flyer, or read more here.... Don't miss hearing these voices of grandeur in the wonderful acoustics of St Kilda Presbyterian Church!

Date and Time

Sunday March 17, 2024 at 3.00pm

Presbyterian Church St Kilda
2 Alma Road (corner of Alma Road & Barkly Street)
St Kilda, VIC, 3182

Book now!

Rigg Bequest Classic Music 2023 - 2024: Concert 4

The Hollywood Connection at Como House & Garden

Join Vivien Hamilton - mezzo-soprano, Josephine Vains - cello and Robert Chamberlain - piano for a Hollywood-inspired recital in the elegant yet intimate Ballroom at Como House and Garden. Enjoy fabulous works by André Previn, Leonard Bernstein, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Erich Korngold, George Gershwin and Australian composer Luke Severn, as you glimpse the lifestyle of the Armytage family - former occupants of this stunning National Trust mansion in South Yarra.

Seating is very limited, so choose from two performances, one at 2pm, the second at 4.30pm, with interval refreshments served on the Eastern Verandah by the Friends of the Team of Pianists! Read more here...

Date and Time

Sunday April 21, 2024 at 2.00pm or at 4.30pm

The Ballroom (inside the main house)
Como House and Garden
Corner Williams Rd & Lechlade Ave
South Yarra, VIC, 3141

Book now!

Rigg Bequest Classic Music 2023 - 2024: Concert 5

Ludwig Live at Labassa!

A unique double recital in the National Trust’s lavish 19th century mansion Labassa. Experience the opulent architectural features and impressive interiors of Labassa as you enjoy the music of Beethoven (and others!) in two contrasting 40 - 45 minute recitals in one afternoon!

Soprano Judith Dodsworth, horn player Roman Ponomariov, and pianist Robert Chamberlain perform Beethoven’s Horn Sonata in F Op. 17, Beethoven’s song-cycle An die ferne Geliebte ("To the distant beloved") Op. 98, which is rarely heard with female voice, as well as trios by Schubert and Flanders & Swann (arr.) in the Music Room. While violinist Yi Wang and pianist Darryl Coote perform Beethoven’s mighty Sonata in A major, Op 47 (Kreuzer) in the Reception Room.

Each recital will be performed twice; after interval the audience will swap rooms to hear their second recital. Both rooms are at opposite corners of the ground floor, separated by doors and the entrance hall, so each audience will not be disturbed by sound from the other recital!

With strictly limited seating, our previous Rigg Bequest double-recital at Labassa sold out early, so book soon for Ludwig Live at Labassa! Read more here...

Date and Time

Sunday May 26, 2024 at 3.00pm

2 Manor Grove
Caulfield North, VIC, 3161
(Please note: Parking in Manor Grove is prohibited)

Book now!


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