Hillel String Quartet win Westheimer Fellowship

Hillel Quartet

Hillel Quartet – Benjamin Adler (violin), Elizabeth Woolnough (viola), Bethan Lillicrap (violoncello), Bridget O’Donnell (violin) Photo (c) Michael Wilson, The West Australian

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is thrilled to announce the Hillel String Quartet as the winners of the 2015 Westheimer String Quartet Fellowship Program. A generous donation was received last year from University alumnus Professor Gerald Westheimer AM, an Australian vision scientist and passionate violinist, to create this prestigious Fellowship, where string quartets have the opportunity to receive private coaching, masterclasses and opportunities to travel overseas and take part in festivals and competitions: music.sydney.edu.au/trio-gifts-cultivate-musicians-world-stage.

A number of string quartets studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music auditioned for the Fellowship and the Hillel String Quartet were selected as the inaugural recipients. The quartet formed in 2012 and participated in the Estivo European Chamber Music Summer School in 2014. The Hillel String Quartet will benefit enormously from this one-year fellowship.

The Westheimer String Quartet Fellowship program will also provide financial assistance to support a program of performance, tuition, travel and development.

“We are thrilled and honoured to be the first recipients of the Westheimer Fellowship, and can’t wait to see where it will take us this year,” said Benjamin Adler, violinist of the Hillel String Quartet. “We are deeply indebted to Mr Westheimer and his visionary generosity.”

The Hillel String Quartet was formed at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2012. Comprising four students of the Sydney Conservatorium, the quartet has received intensive coaching from Dene Olding, Julian Smiles, Georg Eggner, John Harding, Alice Waten, Ole Bohn and Robin Wilson. The Hillel String Quartet has performed at the Sydney Convention Centre, Government House and the University of Sydney, by special request of the Vice Chancellor.

In July 2014, the quartet participated in the inaugural Sydney Conservatorium European Summer Music Festival, during which it gave concerts in Verona and Mantua. In August, the Hillel String Quartet won Second Prize in the Sydney Eisteddfod Musica Viva Chamber Music Award. In September and October, the quartet participated in the Australian Youth Orchestra Chamber Players program in Melbourne, where it was tutored by members of the internationally acclaimed Eggner Trio and performed in Melbourne Conservatorium’s Melba Hall. As the Australian Youth Orchestra String Quartet for 2014, the quartet had the enormous privilege of touring Perth and regional Western Australia over a fortnight in November and December, giving six public concerts and eight school presentations.

Throughout 2014, the Hillel String Quartet performed several public recitals, both at the Sydney Conservatorium and at St James’ Anglican Church, King St as part of its Lunchtime Concert series. It also performed in the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, on the evening of Ray Chen’s first recital in November 2014, upon the invitation of Musica Viva.