Bonita Williams

Double Bass

AYO 2007-2013


After completing her undergraduate studies at University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts under the tutelage of Sylvia Hosking (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Bonita relocated to the United States to undertake her Master of Music degree at Boston University, College of Fine Arts. There she was fortunate to study orchestral repertoire under Boston Symphony Orchestra bassists Todd Seeber and Principal Ed Barker. She also participated in master classes and lessons with other renowned bassists such as Hal Robinson (The Philadelphia Orchestra), Ben Levy (Boston Symphony Orchestra), and Donald Palma (Orpheus Chamber Orchestra).

Whilst in the USA Bonita enjoyed working with several orchestral ensembles such as the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, and as Principal Bass of the Cantata Singers Orchestra, a prestigious early music ensemble. Travelling outside of Boston, she also worked with other prominent orchestras such as the Hawaii Symphony and New Haven Symphony.

In Australia, Bonita performed regularly with Orchestra Victoria and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra before joining the Opera Australia Orchestra in 2016. Since moving to Sydney she has also performed with Pinchgut, Orchestra of the Antipodes, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and participated in several recording sessions for various film scores.

She loves teaching the double bass to students of all ages and levels, and has been involved in educational organisations such as State Music Camp, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, and Sydney Youth Orchestra programs.

Tell us about your musical journey
My parents instilled a love and respect for music in my brothers and myself from a very early age. My mother was a professional flute player for many years; she played with Orchestra Victoria (at that time known as the State Orchestra) and then worked as a teacher. My Dad also worked in the arts and my brothers and I were raised learning music. I learnt piano, and flute from Mum and then started double bass when I was twelve. I first did AYO National Music Camp when I was 17 and also did the Young Symphonists that year.

A little while after my time in AYO I completed my Masters degree in Boston, and freelanced there for a further year. Shortly afterwards I was lucky to win a job with the Opera Australia Orchestra (OAO) and now work full time in Sydney.

What do you enjoy about your current job?
OAO is the friendliest of orchestras; everyone is so lovely and welcoming, and I’m grateful they quickly accepted me as a new member of the community. I love playing opera and ballet, so it’s very enjoyable. It’s wonderful to play music for productions such as Tosca, Nijinsky, Swan Lake, and many more.
What are some of your AYO highlights?

I have such fond memories of AYO - some of the best experiences of my life are from those camps and tours! The 2010 International Tour to Europe and China was amazing; we worked with Sir Mark Elder playing awesome repertoire including Shostakovich 10 and Rachmaninov 2. Musically, socially and culturally it was incredible. The Tour was so well organised – there was no stress in terms of instrument logistics and getting around, it was so well planned and easy for us to just be musicians. We had a blast!

How have your AYO experiences helped your career?
I feel I gained so much from my involvement with the AYO programs. You have the chance to create both national and international networks – it’s a fantastic community.

I also found the Professional Development sessions very helpful. Taking auditions is a huge part of our lives, and I remember hearing the tutors speak to us all about their audition experiences, their lives having orchestral positions, and passing on their advice. It was always interesting and helpful to hear about each person’s varying methods and experiences.

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