In 2004, cellist Sue-Ellen Paulsen and violinist Susan Collins, after having enjoyed working together with the TSO, began working together as a duo. In 2005 the collaboration was established with a performance in Hobart that was broadcast live as part of the ABC’s Sunday Live series. They performed works by Martinu, Kodaly and Ryden. This performance was rebroadcast nationally with ABC FM, as part of the “Best of Sunday Live” segment.
Following this success, the duo approached the brilliant Australian pianist Duncan Gifford, resident in Madrid, to form the Kingfisher Piano Trio. In 2006, Kingfisher performed recitals in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, and recorded a program for ABC FM. That year, the trio’s repertoire included works by Mozart, Schumann and Shostakovich, as well as Australian composers Dunleavy, Schultz and Kats-Chernin. Since 2006, Kingfisher has performed regularly throughout Australia. In 2011, the trio released an ABC Classics recording of all three Schumann Piano Trios to critical acclaim. ...."What a profound delight this music is—and how terrific to hear it performed so wonderfully by these Australian musicians. The creativity, warmth, humanity and intelligence of the composer have been very well served in this recording. To play this music so successfully requires not just individually good players, but also a superlative ensemble, which is quite another thing. This is not just about technical proficiency, musicianship, and team-work—it also requires real intelligence, deep understanding, and a capability for collegial negotiation in the solving of real challenges and problems. The recording of all three of these trios together is a large undertaking, and the release of this work on ABC Classics brings Schumann’s work into the 21st century with renewed vigour and relevance." Reviewed by Alistair Noble, April 1, 2015.
Sue-Ellen Paulsen studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music where she had lessons with Richard Dedecius. As an undergraduate, she appeared as soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Conservatorium Orchestra and Queensland Youth Orchestra. In 1980, she won the ABC Concerto Competition (now the Young Performer Award) and was awarded a scholarship enabling her to pursue postgraduate study in Vienna with André Navarra. She assumed her current position as principal cellist, with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in 1986. Since then she has been guest principal with the Sydney Symphony, Adelaide Symphony and Australian Chamber Orchestra. An experienced soloist, she has performed concertos by Shostakovich, Walton, Mills ad Ligeti among many others and is featured as soloist on several of the TSO's Australian Composer Series CDs. A strong advocate for contemporary music, she has commissioned and premièred many new Australian works including one written especially for her by Andrew Ford. She has recently recorded the Schumann piano trios with the Kingfisher Piano Trio (ABC Classics). She is lecturer in cello at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music.
At age 14, Susan performed Sarasate’s Zigeunerweissen with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Patrick Thomas at the Sydney Opera House. Since that time, she has performed as soloist and recitalist throughout Australia, the USA and Europe.
Critically acclaimed commercial CD releases include the complete violin works of Raymond Hanson (Tall Poppies) with pianist, David Miller, the complete Schumann Piano Trios (ABC Classics) with Kingfisher Trio, and Fritz Hart Music for Violin and Piano with Stephanie McCallum (Toccata Classics).
From 1992 until 2001, Susan held the position of Deputy Concertmaster of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and in 2003 was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal for her contribution to Opera and Ballet. From 2014 to 2021 she was Head of Strings and Orchestra at University of Tasmania Conservatorium following a 6-year tenure at University of Newcastle. Now based in Queensland, she teaches at Qld Conservatorium, Griffith University.
In recent years, Susan has enjoyed performing as a featured artist in music festivals including Dark Mofo, Synesthesia, Ten Days on the Island and Bangalow festivals. In 2022, Susan conducted the Queensland Youth Orchestra and performed as soloist for the organisation’s fundraising event, was a featured artist at the Newcastle Music Festival, joined the panel of international judges for the Lipizer Violin Competition in Italy, and conducted the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra’s final Metro Concert.
Since 2018, Susan is Musical Director of the Riverina Summer School for Strings. In 2021, she founded the Nova Muse Festival in Penguin as Artistic Director, which is a highlight of her year.
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