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Julian Smiles, Cello

Julian is one of Australia's leading cellists. With a career based in chamber music, but extending with great success into solo as well as orchestral playing, his schedule sees him performing and recording extensively both in Australia and overseas.

“Julian Smiles’ performance of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat, Op 107 will be long remembered by Canberra audiences.” - Canberra Times October 2012

A former principal cello with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and frequent guest principal with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Julian is currently cellist with Australia Ensemble, the University of New South Wales' acclaimed resident chamber music ensemble, and the highly successful Goldner String Quartet.

The Goldner Quartet has been consistently acknowledged as a leading Australian Ensemble, and has established a growing reputation overseas. A series of recordings for Hyperion with the Pianist Piers Lane has received critical acclaim, and in July 2011 they performed at the City of London Festival, where the Guardian reviewer described their performances as "quartet playing of the rarest quality.

Julian is very much a part of the worldwide musical "network", having worked with musicians such as Stephen Kovacevich, Boris Bermann, Frans Helmerson, Slava Grigoryan, Pieter Wispelwey, Pascal Roge, Piers Lane, Irina Schnittke, Jane Peters and Paul Grabowsky, conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Charles Duthoit, Vladimir Ashkenazy, David Zinmann, and Edo de Waart, and composers Arvo Paart, Peter Sculthorpe, Ross Edwards, Nigel Westlake, Carl Vine, Brett Dean and Matthew Hindson.

“...cellist Julian Smiles created sonic riches that seemed effortless but added depth and colour” -  Adelaide Advertiser July 2012

In the last few years Julian has enjoyed an increasing profile as a soloist, and has recently performed concertos with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and several orchestras in Sydney. In 2012 he will perform the Dvorak Concerto with the Willoughby Symphony, Shostakovich No.1 with the Canberra Symphony, and will premier a new concerto by Mark Isaacs with the Ku-Ring-Gai Philharmonic.

Julian is also in demand as a teacher, and has tutored gifted young musicians individually and as chamber groups at the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, and for the Australian Youth Orchestra, and has held teaching positions at the Canberra School of Music. He is on staff at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

In July 2012 Julian and his wife, Dimity Hall, performed piano trios with contestants in the chamber music round of the Sydney International Piano Competition.

Julian plays on an 1827 Lorenzo Ventapane cello and lives in Sydney.

Interview with Julian Smiles

-       Where do you do most of your performing?

With Australia Ensemble@UNSW and the Goldner Quartet

-       What do you like about Selby and Friends?

Presenting beautiful music with old and new friends. It is always relaxed and spontaneous music making.

-       What do organisations like Selby and Friends mean for Australian musicians?

The opportunity to take high level performances on a National tour - increasing one's profile in major centres throughout Australia.

-       How long have you known Kathy Selby? Have you played with her before?

I've known Kathy for 24 years, and we've played together many many times.

-       How old were you when you first started playing your instrument? Do you remember why you chose it?

I was 8. I was drawn by the range of the instrument, which is very similar to the human voice. I also seemed to have an innate ability to immediately get a good sound out of it. 

-       What is your favourite aspect of being a performer in Australia

The relatively small population means that over many years of performing I feel that everywhere I perform, I am playing to old friends.

-       Do you think there is enough opportunity for Chamber Musicians in Australia?

Chamber music seems to be well followed in Australia. Recent years have seen the formation of many enthusiastic young groups around the country, and there seems always to be an enthusiasm in the audience marketplace for them.

-       Why chamber music? What draws you to it?

You have artistic control, and your playing has to be of the highest quality, as it is always heard.

-       Are there any favourites, challenges or unknowns in the tour repertoire for your tour next year?

Dvorak's Dumky Trio is a work I always find profoundly moving to hear and play. It is full of simple beauty, surprises that take your breath away, and wild passion. It also features the cello strongly.

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