Rowell will formally take up the role in January 2023. She will also lead the programming during 2022 for MCO’s 2023 season. Her appointment marks a new era for the MCO, eagerly anticipated by the musicians, colleagues and audiences of this much-loved ensemble.
Rowell is one of Australia’s most respected and recognisable violinists, most recently as Concertmaster of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 2015. Sophie is well known to national audiences for founding the Tankstream Quartet, later appointed to the Australian String Quartet, as well as winning the ABC Young Performer’s Award in 2000.
She is in much demand as a teacher, and her ongoing role at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) will also align well with MCO’s long-standing commitment to emerging musicians.
Rowell will be the third artistic director of MCO in its 30-plus year history. Her appointment builds on the directorial legacies of William Hennessy AM and Jeffrey Crellin.
“I am extremely honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra as its Artistic Director from 2023 and hope to build on the legacy of performance excellence that my wonderful predecessor William Hennessy has left for us,” said Sophie Rowell.
“I see a future of exciting possibilities that only an orchestra with the flexibility and commitment of MCO can achieve and I can’t wait to get started sharing my artistic vision with you all.”
“Thank you to my dear colleagues at the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for their support and encouragement as I begin the next chapter in my musical life,” said Rowell.
“The Board undertook an exhaustive search to find a new Artistic Director at the top of their profession, committed to engaging Australian musicians and audiences with innovative programs of the highest quality,” said Ms Fran Thorn, Chair MCO Board,,
“Sophie Rowell will bring all this and more. We could not be more excited to announce her appointment and are looking forward to how she will shape the MCO in years to come. I have long admired Sophie’s artistry, whether in ASQ, as Concertmaster of MSO, or as a guest soloist with MCO.”
“I am energised that the Board has chosen one of Australia’s great violinists to lead our orchestra and am very much looking forward to an inspiring next chapter for our organisation,” said Thorn.
MSO Managing Director Sophie Galaise extended a heartfelt congratulations to Sophie Rowell on behalf of the MSO. “We are thrilled our Concertmaster is expanding her reach as the new Artistic Director of the MCO,” she said.
“Sophie is a valued and important member of the MSO family and we are delighted for her and celebrate this next chapter of her illustrious career,” said Galaise.
Rowell will feature in two programs by MCO during 2022 as a guest, giving audiences an opportunity to hear Sophie with the orchestra before next year. She is the director and soloist for Bach’s World in Melbourne and on Australian Digital Concert Hall from 30 April to 5 May. She also is the director and soloist for Mozart & The Violin in November.
Image: Sophie Rowell – photo by Laura Manariti