Nicole Forsyth


National Music Camp: 1986

Australian Youth Orchestra: 1990, 1992-94

Nicole is a performer/researcher/curator/educator (a true arts ‘slashie’, or portfolio career musician), with an extensive freelance career encompassing historical performance, new music and orchestral performance. She is very proud to be alumni of AYO programs 1990-94, including the first New Music program at 1991 National Music Camp, tours of Europe, New Zealand and Australia with AYO, Japan and Indonesia with Camerata of AYO.

Nicole co – founded groundbreaking historic performance chamber group Ironwood in 2006 with Rachael Beesley, Julia Fredersdorff, Daniel Yeadon, which Anna McMichael, Neal Peres Da Costa & Robin Wilson joined from 2010-12 and with them toured Australia, USA & UK, with performances at Melbourne Festival, Biennale of Sydney, Melbourne Recital Centre, a Musica Viva Australia ICS tour and Chamber Festival appearances, Sydney Opera House Utzon Series, AGNSW Resonate, Peninsula Summer Music Festival, Tyalgum Festival with broadcasts for ABC FM and recordings for ABC Classics.

Ironwood currently focuses on 18th and 19th century chamber music performance practices in string quartet and pianoforte quintet, but commissioned new work from living composers while Nicole was also general manager of the group - including Australian composers Kevin March, Damian Barbeler, Tim Dargaville, and Rosalind Page. Ironwood were Artists in Residence with Bundanon Trust 2007-2014, and also had an extensive pre-professional education program for Developing Artists in HIP, with workshop programs and working in conjunction with Bundanon Trust, VCA-MCM The University of Melbourne, Adelaide Chamber Players, AYO Chamber Players program, and Sydney Youth Orchestras.

In addition to playing viola with Ironwood, Nicole also managed the group for 5 years, with thanks to state and federal funding bodies Arts NSW, Australia Council for the Arts, City of Sydney Council, Skellern Educational Foundation - aiming to connect and expand the HIP and Australian performance sectors for both HIP musicians and audience, create new work and diversify audiences for classical music in regional areas and for audiences who may never have experienced historically informed performance.

Nicole has a great interest in working with living composers, working with Kevin March, Rosalind Page, Damian Barbeler, Dan Walker, Christopher Willcock, Felicity Wilcox; notably for Tasmanian International Arts Festival Ten Days on the Island 2015  and Vivid 2016 with Barbeler & music technologists John Taylor & Benedict Carey to create a sound interactive performance “Bruce’s Shed” as part of Big hArt Inc’s “The Acoustic Life of Sheds”, and for Soft Soft Loud  at Fremantle Arts Centre 2014 with Bryce Dessner and Artistic Director Matthew Hoy. Nicole has also worked with leading Australian new music groups Ensemble Offspring, Halcyon and Kammer in programs for Melbourne Recital Centre, Ngeringa Arts South Australia, Sydney Festival and Aurora New Music Festival (Western Sydney).

Nicole’s work with arts for social change company Big hArt Inc includes Scott Rankin’s award winning play “Namatjira” (Belvoir St Theatre, Australian National Tour & SouthBank London) with an improvising score by recorder player Genevieve Lacey.

She has also performed and recorded with most other Australian HIP groups – Latitude 37, Australian Bach Ensemble, Ludovicos Band, Salut Baroque & as principal viola of Pinchgut Opera/Orchestra of the Antipodes for Pinchgut and Hobart/Brisbane Baroque Festival, and recording with them for ABC Classics.

Nicole’s orchestral work covers historical performance – Pinchgut Opera & Hobart-Brisbane Baroque principal viola, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra,  as well as ‘modern’ orchestral work with Sydney & Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, Opera Australia (AOBO & OV) in Sydney & Melbourne, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Her festival appearances include Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, Perth, Ten Days on the Island, Ballarat Goldfields, Peninsula Summer Festival.

Nicole’s current research is in historically informed performance of domestic chamber music in New South Wales, examining the collection of Rouse Hill House, Western Sydney, which includes creating new audience interactives and socio-historical ways of hearing this collection for Sydney Living Museums. Her education work includes lecturing in historical performance at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney, teaching for pre-professional & music in community programs with AYO, SYO, Ironwood, VCA-MCM, Penrith Strings, Mooorambilla Voices, as well as string programs at Santa Sabina College, Meriden School, MLC School & Burwood Girls High School.

Nicole was a viola student of the late Deborah Lander, in whose name AYO grants a scholarship to current AYO violists. Nicole is proud to have been a student of Debbie’s, as well as having been one of the first Suzuki violin students in Australia studying with the late Hiroko Primrose, and from 1979 with Yasuki Nakamura OAM. From this foundation, Nicole firmly believes a creative arts/music education should be available to every child, regardless of location, income, gender or ethnicity, and is grateful to AYO for helping young Australian musicians in realizing this goal.

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Photo Credit: Sophie Raymond