About the Flinders Quartet

 2024 SMS 6 Flinders Quartet Bio (250 x 350 px)
Photo credit: Pia Johnson

Flinders Quartet

Flinders Quartet (FQ) is instantly recognisable as one of Australia’s most loved chamber music ensembles. They are a quartet for the 21st century and a highly respected force in Australian chamber music.

Since its formation in 2000, FQ has followed a unique path and continues to live up to its motto of “caring for tradition, daring to be different” through its busy schedule of activities.

Vanguards of the Melbourne chamber music scene, FQ initiated its own annual subscription series in 2002. The series has gained momentum each year, and the quartet now enjoys programming and presenting its own season in Victorian venues and around Australia, delivering dynamic and stirring performances which are focussed on contextualising master works of the canon together with new works. They often incorporate other art forms; from inviting audience members to pen Haiku poems to accompany Webern, to intertwining Shakespeare monologues with Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

FQ has a steadfast commitment to the accessibility of the art-form and the growth of Australian chamber music, championing contemporary relevance and art-form regeneration. They offer two composer programs (Ascend and Emerge) working with mid-career and emerging composers selected nationwide, while regularly investing in commissioning and premiering works by both esteemed and emerging Australian composers.

FQ’s 2024 season includes the premieres of new works by Gordon Kerry and Bryony Marks. In their ongoing mission to further the Australian tradition of chamber music, FQ has previously commissioned and premiered works by Peter Sculthorpe, Deborah Cheetham, Ross Edwards, Elena Kats-Chernin, Stuart Greenbaum, Paul Dean, Paul Grabowsky, Ian Munro, Iain Grandage, Andrew Ford, Calvin Bowman, Katy Abbott, Melody Eötvös, Tom Henry, Matt Laing, Julian Yu, Brenda Gifford, Maria Grenfell, Natalie Nicolas, Clare Strong and Ella Macens.

FQ is committed to comprehensively document and promote new works through professional recordings and videos through their own platform, FQ Digital.  Their first commercial CD release, "Reinventions" with Genevieve Lacey, met with critical and popular acclaim and was re-released on the ABC Classic label in 2015, reaching #1 on the ARIA Core Classical album chart. Also on the ABC Classic label is its ARIA-nominated 2011 release, "Fandango" with Karin Schaupp, and 2015 release "Intimate Voices: Sibelius String Quartets". In late 2018, FQ released “The Offering”, a 2-CD set of four Australian works commissioned and/or premiered by the quartet.

FQ enjoys regular airplay on ABC Classic, 3MBS Fine Music Melbourne, Sydney’s Fine Music FM, and has been heard on Finland’s Radio Vega and the UK’s BBC Three. They have recorded the complete works of Margaret Sutherland for string quartet with ABC.

They are in demand at festivals throughout Australia often in association with some of the country’s finest talents, including Slava Grigoryan, Kristian Chong, Ian Munro, Paul Dean, Karin Schaupp, Genevieve Lacey and Jayson Gillham. International engagements have taken FQ to the UK, Singapore, Canada, plus Sweden and Finland, where they were invited to perform the complete string quartets by Sibelius.

Regional touring is integral to FQ’s activity and their commitment to engaging with communities through chamber music is evidenced through long standing relationships in the Yarra Ranges, Shepparton, Mildura, Bendigo, Bairnsdale, Warragul as well as Northern Tasmania (Stanley, Scottsdale and Launceston) and regional NSW (Armidale and Coffs Harbour).

Further highlighting their steadfast commitment to quality music making in regional areas, the “Flinders Quartet Regional String Quartet in Residence” is currently held by the Castlemaine Chamber Players, FQ supports this ensemble in delivering high quality music to its community.

Through a partnership with Resonance String Orchestra based in Woodend and Castlemaine, Flinders Quartet supports the development and rehearsal process of the ensemble and each year, a string quartet is selected from the orchestra to further develop instrumental and chamber music skills through regular coaching and rehearsals with FQ members. 

In 2018, FQ was appointed Artistic Patrons of John Noble’s Itet program, an initiative that reaches student and amateur musicians in regional Victorian through mentoring and side-by-side performances. Through this program, they work regularly with 7 ensembles based all around Victoria.

In 2019 FQ launched an arts and wellbeing residency program in collaboration with Footscray High School (FHS) with students responding in their chosen art form to the string quartets of Shostakovich. Based on its extraordinary success, FQ has taken its work to Macrobertson Girls High School where visual communication students created backdrops and posters based on Russian Constructivism and Bauhaus to Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8.

Building on its 2006 Limelight Award and 2007 Melbourne Prize for Music nomination, FQ was nominated for a 2007 ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) award for its performance of Gillian Whitehead’s "Bright Forms Return" in collaboration with new music ensemble Halcyon. In 2010, Flinders was again nominated for the Melbourne Prize for Music, and in 2011 received an ARIA nomination for its CD release with Karin Schaupp (guitar), "Fandango".


2024 SMS 6 Flinders Quartet Elizabeth Sellars Bio 250x350px

Photo Credit:  Pia Johnson

Elizabeth Sellars, Violin 

Joy and curiosity are central to Elizabeth Sellars’ lifelong quest to create uplifting musical performances that transcend the mundane. Drawing upon her belief that music can delve into our essence and transport us to the sublime, Elizabeth’s artistic approach is to connect audiences with wonder through sculpted sound that is nuanced, rich, warm and ardent. 

Elizabeth was born in Melbourne, Australia where her primary teachers were Nehama Patkin and Nathan Gutman; she formed her first string quartet (Birubi) under the guidance of Marco Van Pagee. The winner of multiple scholarships, Elizabeth studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with David Takeno (violin) and the Gabrieli and Takacs Quartets (chamber music). As a member of the Techniski Quartet, Elizabeth was a winner of the inaugural John Tunnell Trust and the Royal Overseas League Ensemble Prize and Miller Trophy. She toured the UK and the Channel Islands, performed as group soloist with the Philharmonia in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and performed for the BBC. Elizabeth also played throughout Europe and Japan with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

In Australia Elizabeth has appeared variously as guest Concertmaster and guest Principal Violin with the Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Victoria, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra. She has also toured with the Australian World Orchestra. 

As a sought-after chamber musician, Elizabeth has performed for Musica Viva, and in festivals and on radio world-wide. Her chamber performances have been recorded and published by Move, Naxos, ABC Classic, Toccata Classics and Tzadik. In collaboration with pianist Kenji Fujimura, her CD The Messiaen was chosen as the 2014 Limelight Chamber Music Recording of the Year. Her most recent recording features Australian Horn Trios with Quercus. Future releases include the world premiere recording of works by Arthur Benjamin and William Shields.

Elizabeth is a founding member of Sutherland Trio with Caroline Almonte and Molly Kadarauch, and Quercus Trio with Carla Blackwood and Rhodri Clarke.

For 16 years, Elizabeth was Co-ordinator of Strings at Monash University where she was instrumental in developing a vibrant classical strings program. She is a frequent adjudicator and now teaches privately and at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. 

Elizabeth plays on a Eugenio Degani violin made in Veneto 1876.

2024 SMS 6 Flinders Quartet Wilma Smith Bio (250px x 350px)0Photo credit:  Pia Johnson

Wilma Smith, Violin

Wilma Smith is Artistic Director and violinist of Wilma & Friends, a chamber music series based in Melbourne and presenting concerts throughout Australia and New Zealand. She is also Musica Viva’s Artistic Director of the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition and the new National Chamber Music Championship. Wilma teaches violin and chamber music at the University of Melbourne, Scotch College and Korowa Anglican Girls’ School.

Wilma was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. She studied in Boston at the New England Conservatory with the legendary Dorothy DeLay and Louis Krasner then was founding First Violinist of the Lydian String Quartet, winners of the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music and multiple prizes at the Evian, Banff and Portsmouth International String Quartet Competitions. She was Concertmaster of the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and Handel and Haydn Society, and performed regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra.  

Invited to return home to form the New Zealand String Quartet, Wilma was First Violinist until she was appointed Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, a position she held for nine years before moving to Melbourne to be Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2014. Wilma has also appeared as Guest Concertmaster with Sydney, Adelaide, West Australian, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Queensland Festival Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestra Wellington.  

Wilma plays a violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini made in 1761, in Parma, Italy; using a bow by Victor Fetique, Paris, France, ca. 1920.


2024 SMS 6 Flinders Quartet Helen Ireland Bio 250 x 350pxPhoto Credit:  Pia Johnson

Helen Ireland, Viola 

Originally from Adelaide, Helen has made Melbourne her home since moving in 2000 to attend the Australian National Academy of Music. That year turned out to be extremely auspicious because as well as the fantastic opportunities ANAM provided, Flinders Quartet was born. A graduate of the Canberra School of Music, Helen was awarded the Erica Haas Prize for chamber music. Since attending Marryatville High School and playing in a string quartet, to be the violist in a quartet was always her dream. Alongside playing as much chamber music as she could, Helen participated in several Australian Youth Orchestra tours, becoming principal viola of the Camerata in 1998. In 1996, Helen was a finalist in the viola competition at the International Winter School for Strings. Helen has worked with many leading Australian orchestras, including the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. She plays regularly with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Victoria where she has been guest principal and associate principal. Helen is qualified as a Feldenkrais practitioner and whilst not currently practising, it profoundly influences her viola playing.

Helen is a founding member of Flinders Quartet, and plays a 1939 A.E. Smith viola and a bow made by Charles Bazin.

2024 SMS 6 Flinders Quartet Zoe Knighton 250x350pxPhoto Credit: Pia johnson

Zoe Knighton, 'Cello

After starting cello at the age of nine with Jill Kahans, and graduating from the University of Melbourne with the highest mark of her year, Zoe went on to establish herself as one of the country’s most sought after cellists. Having studied with Christian Wojtowicz, Michel Strauss (Paris) Nelson Cooke, and Angela Seargeant, she is now in demand as chamber coach and teacher at various institutions. A regular panelist for major competitions, Zoe combines many facets of her career with performing.

Zoe has played numerous concertos with Melbourne Orchestras and with pianist Amir Farid, made an impressive debut at the Melbourne Recital Centre to great critical acclaim in 2009. Their partnership has resulted in recordings for ABC, concerts throughout Australia and the release of five CDs on the MOVE label. Zoe and Amir will reunite in 2020 with performances in New York and throughout Australia.

Zoe has been praised for her “thrilling tenor sound” (Limelight Magazine), “sublime phrasing” and “many great technical demands carried off with ease.” She has released three other titles on the MOVE label, including the complete suites for solo cello by J.S Bach. 

Zoe is a founding member of Flinders Quartet and plays a 1780 Benjamin Banks, a 2020 Rainer Beilharz cello made in Castlemaine, Victoria, and a Michael Taylor bow made in 2012.

“Knighton has produced a reading of great artistic integrity.” Gordon Kerry  

“She radiates confidence in her work and participates with personality and no little finesse … Well worth hearing for the pleasure given through this player’s familiar warmth and honesty of musical character.” Clive O’Connell