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Julian Smiles, Cello

Julian Smiles has for over 25 years been a central figure in cello performance and teaching in Australia. On graduating from the Canberra School of Music he was appointed principal cellist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and rapidly gained prominence as a chamber musician in performances for Musica Viva, Kathryn Selby and Friends and at the Huntington Estate Music Festival.

“Smiles really shone. There was passion and intensity, with exquisite expression and warm velvet tones from beginning to end.” Clinton White, City News (Canberra) July 2018

In 1991 he was invited to join the Australia Ensemble@UNSW, and in 1995 formed the Goldner String Quartet with colleagues Dene Olding, Dimity Hall and Irina Morozova. With these two groups he has performed to critical acclaim at major venues and festivals throughout the world, made over 30 CDs on leading labels, and premiered many works by Australian and International composers.

Julian has appeared frequently as guest principal cello with orchestras including the Sydney Symphony, Tasmanian Symphony, Australian Opera and Ballet and Auckland Philharmonic Orchestras.

He is also active as a soloist with numerous concerto appearances. Recent artistic collaborations also include such musicians as Piers Lane, Bernadette Harvey, Dimity Hall, Daniel de Borah and James Crabb.

“Julian Smiles, excels in a shapely account of the even earlier B minor Cello Sonata” - Andrew Achenbach, Classical Ear (UK) March 2017

Having studied with Nelson Cooke and renowned cellist and teacher Janos Starker, Julian has developed a school of cello playing based on thorough and ongoing analysis of musical and technical issues that sees him sought after as a teacher and chamber music coach. He has held teaching positions at the Australian Institute of Music and Canberra School of Music, and in 2013 was appointed as Lecturer in Cello at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

During 2018 Julian featured at many prestigious events, including the Sydney and Adelaide Festivals, the Four Winds Festival in Bermagui, a series of concerts with the Goldner Quartet at the Melbourne Recital Centre, and as soloist with the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra. He was also featured as the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural “Artist in Focus”, performing recitals and as a concerto soloist.

“Julian Smiles magical in the first movement’s lyrical second subject” - Clive Paget, Limelight April 2017

2019 sees Julian performing with the Goldner Quartet at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London and in Musica Viva’s Sydney Festival, representing Australia at the Venice Biennale, and making his regular appearances at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, the “Music in the Hunter” Festival and the Huntington Estate Music Festival, and very much enjoying touring with Kathryn Selby and Friends.

Julian plays on a Lorenzo Ventapane cello made in 1827.

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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