Wilma Smith to step down as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster at the end of 2014

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Wilma Smith to step down as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster at the end of 2014

Wilma Smith, Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, has announced she will step down from the post at the end of the 2014 season.

Wilma has held the Harold Mitchell AC Concertmaster Chair at the Orchestra since 2003 and has been an active advocate for the MSO both on and off the stage.

“After more than a decade as Concertmaster of the MSO, the time is right for me to move on and to make way for new leadership,” Smith said. “I fully intend to relish and make the most of my remaining days in the job as much as I have relished the rich and fulfilling experience of the last decade,” she added.

“Wilma is a fantastic Concertmaster and her leadership, generosity and warmth over the past decade has played a big role in making the MSO what it is today,” MSO Chairman Harold Mitchell said.

“In the few months since my arrival in Melbourne, it has been obvious to me how Wilma’s musicianship, deep integrity and charisma have made her one of the most beloved and respected musicians in Australia. The MSO is fortunate to have had her as Concertmaster for over a decade,” said MSO Managing Director André Gremillet.

“We will be proceeding immediately with a search for her replacement, and we are grateful to Wilma for having accepted to stay with us until the end of 2014 so that we have more time to make this most important transition,” he continued.

As Concertmaster Wilma has led the Orchestra on occasions such as: Markus Stenz’s final concert as Chief Conductor in 2004, the Orchestra’s Centenary concerts in 2006, the European Tours of 2003 and 2007, the reopening of Hamer Hall, the Orchestra’s visit to the Sydney Opera House under Sir Andrew Davis in 2012 and, most recently, the welcome of Sir Andrew Davis as Chief Conductor with a Gala Concert featuring Bryn Terfel.

Over the last decade Wilma has performed with the MSO in more than 500 concerts and has also appeared as a soloist to great critical acclaim – most recently in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending about which MSO Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis said, “Of the many performances of this work that I have conducted Wilma’s was unquestionably the most beautiful.”

“This, however, came as no surprise to me since, from my first visit to the MSO, I realised that here was an exceptional musician with whom I felt an immediate rapport,” he continued. “Her dedication, sensitivity and deep love of music have made our work together joyous and I am grateful and delighted that it will continue over the next 18 months.”

“The musicians of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are extremely grateful for the years of service, given tirelessly by Wilma; it is impossible to overstate the energy, knowledge and integrity that she brought to her work, both on the concert platform and behind the scenes, as concertmaster,” said MSO Double Bassist and Players’ Committee President Damien Eckersley.

“Wilma’s friendship, commitment to her position, and commitment to the Orchestra as a whole will be missed dearly and we wish her every success in her future endeavours,” he continued.

In addition to her role with the MSO, Wilma has continued a busy chamber music life in Australia and New Zealand. Highlights have included performing with the Munro/Smith/Berlin Trio, Steven Isserlis, Melvyn Tan, Ensemble Liaison, the Hopkins Quartet and duos with pianists Ian Munro and Michael Houstoun. In 2012 Wilma started her own chamber music series, Wilma and Friends, at the Melbourne Recital Centre Salon.

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