The Elanée Ensemble, Jo St. Leon and Stuart Thomson, was formed in 2009 to showcase the beauties of the viola/double bass duo in chamber music. They have become well-known throughout Tasmania for their lively, high-quality performances and their innovative programming. Through an extensive commissioning project, they have made a significant contribution to the duo repertoire, and more recently, the viola/bass/piano trio repertoire. In addition to performing throughout Tasmania, they have undertaken two Victorian tours, and played double concertos with the Hobart Chamber Orchestra and at the Residential Summer String Camp held annually in Ulverstone, where they are Ensemble-in-Residence.
The ensemble sometimes joins with other musicians to form larger groups enabling them to explore a wider repertoire.
Jo studied the viola with Christopher Marting in Melbourne and Frederick Riddle in London. During her many years in London, she held Principal positions with the English National Ballet, Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet and the English Touring Opera. She was a member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for thirteen years and their Education Director for two years. She was a regular freelance player ith the English Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. As a chamber musician, Jo was a member of the Priory trio for 6 years, and played regularly with the Orchestra of St. John's Chamber Ensemble and Endymion Ensemble, with whom she premiered many works of contemporary British composers. She has appeared as soloist in the UK, Australia, China and South America.
Since returning to Australia late in 2006, Jo has held positions as Lecturer in Viola at the Tasmanian Conservatorium and Head of Strings at St. Michael's Collegiate. She has appeared as Guest Principal Viola with the Melbourne Symphony Orhcestra and was a member of the Diemen Quartet from 2011 - 2013. She is currently the violist of the Elanée Ensemble, plays regularly with Virtuosi Tasmania and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, teaches at the UTas Conservatorium and has a large private teching studio. She tutors annually at the Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute in Hobart and the Residential Summer String Camp in Ulverstone, Tasmania.
Born in Edinburgh, Stuart Thomson began playing the double bass at age nine and later joined the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, which inspired him to become a professional musician. He studied with Duncan McTier and Corin Long at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester and was awarded the Eugene Cruft Prize for Double Bass. While at the RNCM he began working professionally with the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestras. Subsequent freelance work included engagements with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Philharmonische Werkstatt in Switzerland. In 1999 he joined the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2001 moved to Australia to play with the Sydney Symphony. The following year he was appointed Associate Principal of The Queensland Orchestra and in late 2003 took up the post of Principal Double Bass with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO). He has also received invitations to guest as principal with the Adelaide and West Australian Symphony orchestras. In 2005 he made his solo debut with the TSO playing alongside Alex Henery in Bottesini's Passione Amorosa for two double basses. Then again in 2011 with Tubin's concerto for double bass and in 2015, he performed the Australian premiere of Tan Dun's Double bass concerto The Wolf. In December this year he will appear again as soloist with The Wolf and the TSO in Hobart and on the TSO's tour of China. An active chamber musician, he is a founding member and co-artistic director of the Elanée Ensemble focusing on music for viola and double bass. He also teaches at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music.
Lucy began playing the violin at the age of 4. She studied with Beryl Kimber and William Hennessey in Adelaide and with Stelios Kafantaris in Germany. During this time she represented Australia in the Jeunesse Musicales World Orchestra with whom she toured much of Europe and Canada. At 22 Lucy returned to Australia to take up the Principal Second violin job in the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Two years later she joined the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, also as Principal Second violin. Lucy has appeared as soloist with the TSO, Adelaide and Hobart Chamber Orchestras; is a member of the Australian World Orchestra and has played as guest Associate Principal Second with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. She appears regularly with Virtuosi, the Elanée Ensemble and with the Discovery Octet.
Brett began his study of the cello at the N.S.W. conservatorium of Music with John Painter and then later with Barbara Woolley for more extensive study. In 1981 Brett joined the Sydney Elizabethan Orchestra (now AOBO). In 1984 Brett with his wife Janet travelled to London to spend a year of study. During this time Brett studied with Alexander Baillie and William Pleeth. On returning to Australia, Brett joined the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.
Since then Brett has also played with Tasmanian Symphony Chamber Players, Virtuosi Tasmania and with the Trigon Ensemble has performed for A.B.C. FM and A.B.C. television as well as concerts around Australia. Brett also plays the viola da gamba and has recorded and performed with the early music group Backgammon and is currently playing with Nuove Musiche ensemble.
Jennifer grew up in Tasmania and at age 12 was invited to study with Professor Gediga-Glombitza at the Musikhochschule in Cologne. At age 16 she made her public debut with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Schumann's A minor Piano Concerto, having previously recorded the Rimsky-Korsakov Piano Concerto with the TSO. Two years later she performed the Rubinstein Piano Concerto No 4 with the TSO and, that same year, was the youngest graduate of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, where she was awarded a high distinction as a double major in piano performance and accompaniment. Other concertos in her repertoire include works by Beethoven, Brahms, Dohnányi, Mozart, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky, and she has appeared as soloist with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Niedersächsisches Staatsorchester Hannover.
In 1989 she began work as a repetiteur with the State Opera of South Australia and subsequently joined the Victorian State Opera Young Artist Programme. Between 1997 and 2001 she was repetiteur at the Staatsoper Hannover and was a full-time member of the music staff with Opera Australia from 2001 to 2012. She has more than 90 operas in her repertoire. Jennifer, a member of the Kettering Piano Quartet, is now living in Hobart, and is in demand as a soloist, accompanist and vocal coach.
David, a watercolourist and illustrationist, trained as a lithographic artist, doing a 6 year apprenticeship in Melbourne, graduating with a Diploma in Advertising Art. He subsequently started his own freelance company, Taswegia, specialising in marketing and design, as well as manufactoring cards and stationary. He is a specialist in pre-press. These days, he is semi-retired, focusing on marine landscapes while continuing to do mining engineering illustrations. He has had 56 very successful one man exhibitions.
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