Ashlee Woodgate – soprano
In 2015, young soprano Ashlee Woodgate graduated with distinction and a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from The University of Newcastle Conservatorium. She studied voice with Dr. Christopher Allan.
Currently she is continuing her studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Opera Studio pursuing a Masters of Music Studies (Opera Performance), working with Maree Ryan AM , Chair of Vocal Studies and Opera.
Ashlee has performed in numerous recitals as soloist, most notably with the Newcastle University Orchestra conducted by Christopher Bearman OAM. Opera credits include performances in Pacific Opera’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen, with Alexander Briger as conductor and excerpts as Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte at Newcastle Conservatorium conducted by Ian Cook. During 2016 she performed as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro with Opera Hunter conducted by Christopher Bearman OAM, and the Herald of Dawn in Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen at Sydney Conservatorium conducted by Dr. Neal Peres da Costa with the Early Music Ensemble. She is currently in preparation for performances as Despina in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte conducted by Dr. Stephen Mould for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Masterclasses have seen her working with Greta Bradman, Emma Matthews (for Musica Viva), Miriam Allan and Deborah Humble. Ashlee has received numerous awards and scholarships including the Patricia Lucas Music Achievement Scholarship, the Helpmann Family Scholarship and the Norman Bushman Scholarship, all relating to studies and scholarship in voice.
Her passion for performance began as a child , with voice and dance lessons stimulating her interest. Every opportunity was taken to perform. Her interest was originally in musicals such as; The Sound of Music, Annie, Beauty and the Beast, Hairspray, and Into the Woods. Her final opportunity as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance was a major factor in her decision to pursue an operatic career.
Barbara Jin – mezzo
Chinese mezzo-soprano Barbara (Yuanyuan) Jin studied for three years on scholarship at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music, China, under the tutelage of Ruogi He as part of the undergraduate program. In 2013, she relocated to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to complete her Bachelor of Music as a recipient of the International Student First Prize Scholarship. She is now in her final year of a Masters of Opera Performance, studying with Maree Ryan AM, chair of vocal studies and opera. She is a recipient of the Diane Wishart and Quin Quin Foundation scholarships.
Barbara’s operatic credits have included Mercedes (Carmen), La Badessa, La Suora Zelatrice and La Suora Infermiera (Suor Angelica), Miss Fitzhenry, Lady Jersey and Second Nun (Williamson’s English Eccentrics), and Dawn’s Attendant, Mopsa and Secrecy (The Fairy Queen). ClassikON commented of her performance in The Fairy Queen, “Ms Jin has impeccable diction, most suitable for a piece sung in English and a very flexible voice suitable for a variety of singing genres.” Barbara has also appeared in the ensemble for Adamo’s Little Women, Bernstein’s MASS as a Street Singer at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, and in the premiering opera, Ui no Fa’aoe. In October 2016, Barbara was portraying Dorabella in Cosí fan tutte at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, conducted by Stephen Mould. In January 2017, she is going to cast Mrs McLean in Susannah with Opera New England.
Barbara’s awards include the Outstanding Student Award at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music; first prize in German Art Song for the Hong Kong International Singing Competition; first prize in 19th Century Music; first prize in Opera for the Great Composers Competition and second prize in the Nuremberg Music Festival.
She has participated in masterclasses with international conductor, Semyon Rozin in 2015, and with Greta Bradman in 2016.
Evan Kirby – tenor
Canberra Tenor Evan Kirby is currently studying in the elite Bachelor of Music Vocal Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He studies voice under the guidance of Ms Maree Ryan AM, Chair of Vocal and Opera Studies and is the recipient of scholarships from the Conservatorium, St. Andrew’s College, The Sydney Eisteddfod and the Patim fund.
Credits as an oratorio soloist include Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor (Manly-Warringah Choir, conductor Dr Carlos Alvarado); Requiem (Igitur Nos Orchestra and Choir, conductor Matthew Stuckings and University of Canberra Chorale, conductor Alan Hicks); Handel’s Messiah (Penrith Symphony Orchestra, conductor Paul Terracini, Hornsby Ecumenical Choir, conductor Phillip Linquist); Israel in Egypt (Sydney Conservatorium Early Music Ensemble, conductor Dr Neil McEwan AM); Haydn’s Harmoniemesse (Choir of Christ Church St Laurence, conductor Dr Neil McEwan AM); Nelson Mass (Eastern Sydney Chamber Orchestra, conductor Luke Spicer and Igitur Nos Orchestra and Choir, conductor Matthew Stuckings); and Stainer’s The Crucifixion (St Stephen’s Uniting Church Choir, conductor David Hood). In 2017, Evan is also performing as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Penrith Symphony Orchestra, conductor Paul Terracini), Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music (Sydney Philharmonia Orchestra and Choir, conductor Brett Weymark) and Rossini’s Stabat Mater (Kur-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Peter Ellis).
Opera credits include the roles of Reverend Mr Jones and Dr Wilkinson in Malcolm Williamson’s English Eccentrics (Con Opera, conductor Dr Stephen Mould); and King Kaspar in Menotti’s Amahl and The Night Visitors (Penrith Symphony Orchestra, conductor Paul Terracini).
Tristan Entwistle – baritone
Sydney born baritone Tristan Entwistle completed a Bachelor of Music (Performance) under the tutelage of Ms Maree Ryan AM at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2015, where he is currently pursuing a Masters of Music Studies (Opera Performance), and holds the Patricia Lucas Music Achievement Scholarship.
Since his operatic debut in 2015 as Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with new youth company “Operantics”, Tristan has performed the roles of The Drunken Poet/Corydon (The Fairy Queen), Barone Douphol and Dottor Grenvil (La Traviata), Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park – Australian premiere), Old Yue (Chang’E and the Moon – World premiere), and Giuseppe Palmieri (The Gondoliers). He has also since reprised his role as Guglielmo with Penrith Symphony Orchestra, and with the Sydney Conservatorium Opera.
Tristan’s concert repertoire includes Lucifers Tanz (Stockhausen – Australian premiere), Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven), Messiah (Handel), Requiem (Mozart), Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Vaughan-Williams), Requiem (Fauré), Missa in tempori belli (Mass No. 10 in C Major – Haydn), Great Mass in C minor (Mozart), Mass (Bernstein), and Stabat Mater (Rossini). In 2014/15, he held the bass scholarship at the Choir of Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney.
Tristan is a founding member, principal artist and Artistic Advisor of Operantics, a new youth opera company in Sydney. His current engagements include performances of Messiah with Sydney Combined Church Choirs (annual Town Hall Messiah), Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Penrith Symphony Orchestra, and the role of Elder McLean in Susannah (Floyd) with Opera New England.
Armine Gargrtsyan – violin
Armine migrated to Australia 7 years ago, and has been part of MSO since 2011. She began playing the violin when she was 6 years old. She was accepted into the violin faculty of The Tchaikovsky Specialized Music College for Gifted Students in Yerevan, Armenia. While studying at the specialised school, she travelled and performed with the violin ensemble of the school in various locations such as Moscow. Armine has a Bachelor of Music Degree in Violin teaching and Performance from Yerevan’s Komitas State Conservatorium (Armenia). While studying at the conservatorium she started playing professionally in the special opera orchestra dedicated to the vocal school of the conservatorium as first violinist. After graduating she worked for Armenian National TV & Radio Symphony Orchestra, Yerevan’s Symphony Orchestra and from 1998 until 2009 was employed by The Acapulco Symphony Orchestra in Mexico, as a violinist. She is currently employed as a casual rank and file violinist with AOBO (Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra) and also plays on a freelance basis with other orchestras and groups in Australia. In addition to performing she also teaches violin and piano.
Armine says that having played with variety of orchestras from around the world, she has been lucky to have travelled extensively to various major cities, such as Moscow, Marseilles, Chicago, Shanghai, Mexico City and other major cities in Mexico.
She looks forward to playing more with MSO and contributing to the community and the performing arts and music.
Ronald Thomas – violin
Born in the Wheat belt of Western Australia, Ronald began to play the violin at the age of four with lessons from his father. He first appeared in public at the age of 11 and at 17 performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Soon after that he left to study in London and later in Switzerland with Max Rostal.
At 21 he won the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition. Following a critically acclaimed recital at Wigmore Hall in London he was offered concerto engagements with major orchestras in England including the Royal Philharmonic, Birmingham and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras. He also began broadcasting for the BBC and was a concerto soloist at the first night of the BBC Promenade Concerts. While continuing to give recitals and perform concertos throughout the country he was a member of the English Chamber Orchestra. Later as a member, concertmaster and soloist with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, he performed with them for a number of years in concerts, recordings and world tours. He formed his own group – the New London Soloists Ensemble – which toured the USA. During this time he frequently returned to play with and conduct the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra.
In 1976 he became concertmaster, then Musical Director of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta where he remained for ten years giving some 950 concerts, 250 of which he conducted, solo concerts, broadcasts and recordings. In the 1980s he was invited by sir Gorge Solti to be guest concertmaster for a special Anniversary series of concerts by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, appearing at the Edinburgh Festival and the Royal Festival Hall in London. At this time he was guest concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Ronald moved to Australia in 1987 to become the Artistic Director of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. While in Australia he formed The Soloists of Australia which appeared at the Perth Festival and made a number of recordings for Chandos Records. He was at this time a guest lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium and the leader of the Sydney String Quartet, where he remained for a number of years. He was also Master of Chamber Music at Trinity Grammar School for ten years.
Now living in Perth, Ronald Thomas continues to perform and to teach. In April 2016 he performed the 10 Beethoven Violin and Piano Sonatas at the Perth Town Hall.
Rachel Tolmie – cor anglais
Rachel started playing the oboe at ten years of age and the cor anglais at twelve. In primary school she played in the Sydney North Youth Orchestra and on entering the Conservatorium High School, she became a member of the Conservatorium High School Orchestra and the Sydney Youth Orchestra. During her undergraduate years at the Sydney Conservatorium and for many years afterwards, Rachel was the Principal Oboist of the East-West Philharmonic Orchestra.
On successful completion of her Fellowship in Music Diploma, awarded by the AMEB, Rachel travelled to England and completed with Distinction, a Post-Graduate Diploma at the Royal College of Music, London, specializing in Solo and Chamber Music Performance.
On her return to Sydney, Rachel started recording her first CD with the brilliant pianist John Martin. John and Rachel continue to perform regularly together and have released four CD’s.
In 2006, Rachel wrote a book titled An Introduction to the Cor anglais and Oboe which is published by Wirripang Publications.
In 2008, Rachel recorded a solo album with the Bourbaki Ensemble, conducted by David Angell. This album featured Andrew del Riccio on trumpet in Quiet City by Aaron Copland. Rachel’s latest CD “Bushfire” with the Concertante Ensemble was released In 2011 .
Rachel has appeared as soloist with the East-West Philharmonic Orchestra, Central Coast Symphony Orchestra, Concertante Ensemble, Con Spirito, Bourbaki Ensemble and Balmain Sinfonia.
In December 2011 Rachel graduated with a Master of Music degree from Sydney University.
Gregory Kinda – piano
Gregory Andrew Kinda was born in Katowice, Poland. In 1983, his family immigrated to Australia. In 1984, at the age of 6, he became the youngest scholar to enter the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in the preparatory department. In 1986 he moved to Papua-New Guinea, and in 1990 he returned to Poland. He studied at the Katowice Secondary Music School. In 1999, at the Academy of Music in Katowice, Gregory completed his Master of Arts degree in an accelerated three years instead of the usual five. He also studied post-graduate courses in Oslo, Norway and Gdansk, Poland. He returned back to Sydney in 2000. In 2003, he completed his Bachelor of Teaching degree at the University of Western Sydney. From 2001 to 2006 Gregory was a piano lecturer at the Australian International Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. From 2008 till 2010 he worked as a teacher at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Conservatorium of Music. Since 2010, he works as an Associate Artist at Trinity Grammar School in Summer Hill, NSW.
Gregory has performed in Australia, Poland, Norway, Germany, Russia, France, Czech Republic and Japan. He was the star performer in March 2010 at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place in Sydney, during the official NSW state celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Frédéric Chopin, where he played in the presence of the Polish Ambassador and the Governor of NSW Professor Marie Bashir AC.
His prizes at international competitions have included:
3rd Prize in the F. Chopin Competition in Szafarnia, Poland 1993.
Artistic Scholarship from the F. Chopin Foundation in Warsaw, 1994.
3rd Prize in the M. Magin Competition in Paris, 1995.
2nd Prize in the National Competition in Zagan, Poland 1996.