Meet the Musicians
Concertmaster, Baroque Violin
Shaun Lee-Chen is an internationally celebrated performer and the concertmaster of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. He also holds the position of Artist in Residence at the University of Western Australia where he is the co-ordinator of Violin Studies. Shaun was the 2007 ABC Young Performer of the Year.
At home on both period and modern instruments, Shaun has appeared as both soloist and in guest principal roles with many major Australian orchestras. He is the featured soloist in the Brandenburg's Aria nominated album Brandenburg Celebrates from 2015. Shaun has a special interest in 19th-century performance practice and he is a founding member and co-director of the Irwin Street Collective, a period instrument ensemble based at the University of Western Australia.
Associate Concertmaster, Baroque Violin
Matt Bruce is a leading violinist and concertmaster who has worked in the Australian music industry for over 30 years.
He has been a member of the Brandenburg since 1992, and Resident Concertmaster and Associate Concertmaster since 2013. He has toured with the orchestra nationally and internationally, appearing as Concertmaster and soloist on multiple occasions, and is featured on a number of the Brandenburg’s acclaimed recordings, including the ARIA award-winning Baroque Tapas.From the moment he met Paul Dyer, Matt was captivated by the Brandenburg’s trademark brand of vibrancy, camaraderie and joy, & the unique tone & expressiveness of period instruments immediately became a source of inspiration. “The experience of playing on these special instruments, combined with the generosity and spirit of the orchestra, was a revelation,” he recalls.
“What resonates for me is the constant commitment to making a meaningful connection with the audience, through both musical reverence and a dedication to engaging performances. The opportunity to do so in a positive and profound way, for so many people, concert after concert, is such a joy & a privilege.”
Matt is hard pressed to single out career highlights as there have been so many memorable moments. Amongst them are performing with Andreas Scholl at the London Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, the fearless playing of Italian violinist Ricardo Minasi, thrilling collaborations with the acrobats of Circa, and the unforgettably moving concerts with Cuban gamba player Lixania Fernandez.
Additionally, Matt’s diverse musical interests have seen him perform in variety of other groups over the years, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia, and Grevillia Ensemble; period ensembles such as the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra, Hobart and Brisbane Baroque, Pinchgut Opera, The Marias Project, and the Australian Haydn Ensemble; as well as Tango outfits “Orquesta la Luna Tango” and “Fuego Lento”.
He also made an appearance with electric string quartet Fourplay, and has participated in the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, Townsville International Chamber Music Festival, Canberra Chamber Music Festival, and the Academie de Musique Lausanne. Matt is a Churchill Fellow.
Away from the concert stage, Matt is a passionate educator who believes in the inimitable power of music, and its ability to transcend borders and cultures by bringing people together in profound and meaningful ways. He currently teaches postgraduate violin at The Australian Institute of Music.
Matt is a keen paddle-boarder & jazz aficionado.
Principal Second Baroque Violin
One of Australia’s leading performers on Baroque violin, Ben Dollman, was mentored by former Brandenburg Concertmaster Lucinda Moon and became a regular member of the orchestra in 1999. “My first concert was memorable, both for experiencing Paul Dyer’s flamboyant style of direction, and for guest artist Genevieve Lacey who was a revelation to me on recorder,” Ben recalls. “The Brandenburg is a very special orchestra to play for; the verve and vivacity that Paul brings to performances is unique, as is the atmosphere among the playing group. There’s so much goodwill.”
Based in Adelaide, Ben’s studies in early violin began at Indiana University with the Australian Baroque violinist Stanley Ritchie. In 2015, he was the recipient of the Brandenburg Foundation Study Grant to undertake professional development work in Europe. He has performed as a soloist and Concertmaster on several occasions and for many years has been an influential performer in the South Australian chamber music and orchestral scene. This includes Adelaide Baroque, Ensemble Galante, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Evergreen Ensemble and Melbourne Baroque Orchestra.
A memorable career highlight was his solo violin performance in Bach’s 5th Brandenburg Concerto alongside Paul and Melissa Farrow. “It was to celebrate the orchestra’s 30th birthday and it was very emotional.”
Away from the concert stage, Ben enjoys getting back to nature and the simple pleasures of life through meditation and yoga.
Principal Baroque Viola
From the time the Brandenburg was founded in 1989, Monique O’Dea has been one of the orchestra’s most eager and intrepid players, now a highly-respected virtuoso and teacher.
After years of study in Adelaide, Vienna and London, Monique’s early attraction to the orchestra was immediate. “The Brandenburg had everything going for it: glorious repertoire, high standards, lovely people to work with and Paul Dyer!” She recalls, “I was there when the orchestra was formed and it was very new to all of us, very exciting and a little scary. Our first concert in 1990 was in the Sydney Opera House.”
Monique has long played on a 1849 Pierre Silvestre viola and gains pleasure in the mellow, softer sounds created on period instruments and Baroque-style bows. Her life revolves around music and being as open as possible to new ideas and ready for any challenge. Monique studied violin at the Adelaide Conservatorium with Beryl Kimber and subsequently won a scholarship to study in Vienna.
Her most memorable career highlights include the European tour with the Brandenburg and German countertenor Andreas Scholl, as well as her time with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, where she was appointed Co-Principal Viola, and Principal Viola with the Peterborough String Orchestra in Cambridgeshire, England.
Originally from Adelaide, Monique began playing the violin when she was eight years old. She made the move to viola during a chamber music weekend in Vienna in her early 20s. Monique was immediately hooked on the viola and romance blossomed in Vienna when she met her future husband, Sydney violinist Michael O’Dea, a fellow music student.
When not rehearsing and performing with the Brandenburg, Monique enjoys walking with her dog Sasha, knitting and “still trying to advance my French!”
Principal Baroque Cello
Jamie Hey is one of Australia’s most pre-eminent period cellists and an astute researcher of the history, development and repertoire of the cello in 17th century Italy. Jamie joined the Brandenburg in in 1995, becoming Principal Cellist in 2002. In 2002-2003, he studied in Australia and Japan with one of the world’s leading Baroque cellists Hidemi Suzuki.
Jamie is passionate about historically-informed performance and letting the music speak for itself. “The music is all that matters; artistic integrity is priceless.” He describes his debut performance with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, which featured British soprano Catherine Bott, as “life changing and thrilling”. It was an occasion matched by the time he got to accompany French soprano Claire Lefilliâtre when she was guest soloist with the Brandenburg when it joined with Circa in 2015.
Jamie began his studies at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1991, and was soon appointed Principal Cellist with the Queensland Youth Orchestra. His growing assurance and artistry became his calling card in Australia and overseas. He performed as Principal Cellist for Il Complesso Barocco under the direction of Alan Curtis in Italy, Austria and France; in the fortepiano trio Ensemble of the Classic Age with Geoffrey Lancaster; Principal Cellist of Sinfonia Australis and regular performances with Pinchgut Opera. An outstanding solo recitalist and continuo player, Jamie has accompanied many leading exponents of early music, including Philippe Jaroussky, Hiro Kurosaki, Andreas Scholl, Emma Kirkby, Alfredo Bernadini and Maria Christina Kiehr.
Principal Bass / Violone
A specialist in historical performance, Robert Nairn is Principal Bass with the Brandenburg, affording him the opportunity, in his words, “to work with the best Australian historical artists in programs that are totally entertaining, thought-provoking, radical, sensitive and alluring”.
Rob’s teaching experience over 14 years at Juilliard has made him acutely aware of historical accuracy in the lower strings. “I’m always looking for direction and impulse from the other players. I love to catch people’s eyes on stage. It’s all about what happens on stage: the communication, the energy.”
His playing experience is vast and has introduced him to most Australian and many international ensembles, orchestras and festivals. These include the London and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras; the Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestras; the English, Scottish and Australian Chamber Orchestras, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, the Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, the Halle Orchestra and The Australian World Orchestra. he has also worked with the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Juilliard Baroque, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, English Baroque Soloists, Smithsonian Chamber Players, Florilegium, ARCO and Adelaide Baroque.
Rob Nairn was appointed ‘Master Musician in Residence’ at the Elder Conservatorium in 2020, having worked as Head of the Early Music Department at Melbourne University from 2017-2020. Previously he also taught on the faculty of the Juilliard School and Penn State University for 18 years where he was a Distinguished Professor, and a Kulas Visiting Artist at Case Western Reserve University. He is past-president of the International Society of Bassists and hosted the Society’s 2009 Convention in Penn State. In 2008, he was awarded a Howard Foundation Fellowship from Brown University. Rob received his Bachelor of Music with Distinction from the Canberra School of Music and a post-graduate diploma from the Berlin Musikhochschule.
Rob has commissioned and premiered more than 40 works for solo double bass and chamber groups, and given solo recitals in Europe, Scandinavia, China, the United States and Australia. He has premiered concertos by Barry Conyngham, Douglas Balliett, and Elena Kats Chernin and his new CD ‘Tremor” was released in 2022 on the U.S. Ablaze label.
Outside of music, Rob enjoys running, cooking and spending time with family and close friends – and wine tasting.
Principal Theorbo / Baroque Guitar
Given the distinctive shape and size of his period instrument, Tommie Andersson is, by association, one of the most conspicuous players on the classical concert stage.
He is a founding member and principal player of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Having watched the Brandenburg’s evolution at close quarters since its debut, Tommie has come to thrive on its ambition, passion, and vitality. “By 2001 the orchestra, I think, had succeeded in becoming entwined in the fabric of Australian culture.”
Born in Bodafors, Sweden, and based in Sydney since 1984, Tommie is recognised as Australia’s leading specialist in lutes and early guitars. He has toured extensively in Sweden and has given performances and masterclasses in Scandinavia, Western Europe, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan, as well as tours of South America and Asia.
Tommie completed his studies at the State Conservatorium of Music (Musikhögskolan) in Göteborg, Sweden, with a Master’s Degree in Performance (Soloist Diploma), studying under Josef Holecek. Subsequently Tommie was awarded a Swiss Government Scholarship for further studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where his teachers included Engen M. Dombois and Hopkinson Smith.
Tommie Andersson is highly sought after both as a soloist and as a continuo player. He performs regularly with Opera Australia, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Song Company, Pinchgut Opera, the Orchestra of the Antipodes, Sydney Chamber Choir and The Marais Project, among others.
Inquisitive and nurturing, Tommie has lectured in Lute at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music since 1986 and is regularly approached by universities throughout Australia to share his knowledge and perform. He appears on more than 60 recordings, including a solo CD of Baroque lute and guitar music released on the Swedish label, Musica Rediviva and a CD of Swedish folk music released on the label Giga.
Principal Baroque Flute / Recorder
Melissa Farrow is an in-demand period flautist and recorder player on the Australian early music scene. Since 2003, she has been Principal Flute at the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra where she programmed and co-ordinated its regional touring concerts and performances between 2011 and 2021.
Melissa was tutored by Paul Dyer in Baroque chamber music when she was studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. At the age of 20, she made her concert debut in 1996 with the Brandenburg at the Sydney Opera House. “It was such a thrill,” she recalls. “I love the passion of Baroque and classical repertoire, and the way the Brandenburg brings a fresh quality to the concert experience.”
Melissa is a featured player on the Brandenburg’s recordings ‘Vivaldi – Nisi Dominus and Stabat Mater’ with Andreas Scholl, and ‘Brandenburg Celebrates!’. Her most recent recordings appear on the digital platform Brandenburg One, including solo Bach and Telemann, Mozart Flute Quartet in D, and Ayres and Graces.
Melissa is a core member of the Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) and a member of Notturno, an ensemble with a core of flute, viola and guitar, performing music of the classical and romantic eras. In late 2019, she joined four colleagues from the Sydney Conservatorium to form the historical woodwind ensemble, Notos Wind Quintet. The flautist is drawn to new musical challenges and a level of risk-taking that brings a renewed sense of vitality to the music.
Melissa plays regularly with Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes. She has 30 years’ experience teaching flutes and recorders, giving workshops and masterclasses at the Sydney Conservatorium, where she is lecturer in period flute. Her interests outside of music include spending precious time with her daughters and husband, pottering in the garden and drinking a well-made coffee.
Leanne Sullivan is Principal Trumpet with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and has appeared as a leading soloist on several occasions.
A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she first performed with the Brandenburg in 1995 when it recorded an album with countertenor Graham Pushee. Leanne was one of four trumpet players to accompany the aria Or la Tromba from Handel’s Rinaldo. “I was very excited and loved the sounds of the like-minded musicians around me.” It remains an early career highlight, as was the time Leanne played the same piece years later as Principal Trumpet with French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, when he made his Australian debut with the Brandenburg.
Upon graduation, the aspiring musician studied in London, where she was mentored by soloist Graham Ashton and gained experience working with several orchestras and ensembles. It was in London where Leanne was introduced to the Baroque trumpet and began studies on the instrument. Leanne has performed with many of Australia’s most prominent orchestras, including the Sydney Symphony, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. She plays Principal Trumpet with Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, and for many years held this position with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
In 2002, Leanne was awarded the Dame Roma Mitchell Churchill Fellowship for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Under the auspices of the fellowship, she returned to Europe to further her studies in Baroque trumpet. Always one to let the music and her playing do the talking, Leanne is grounded and a much respected musician who teaches and lectures at the Sydney Conservatorium.
Timpani / Percussion
Brian has carved a singular and exciting career to become a highly sought-after performer across the musical spectrum. Since 2000, he has been the Brandenburg’s Principal Timpanist/Percussionist and was formerly the Principal Timpanist with the Australian World Orchestra working with Simon Young and Zuben Mehta. He has played with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as a percussionist and/or timpanist, in a contract or freelance role every year of his professional career.
Brian is passionate about historically informed performance and being part of the Brandenburg family. “The idea that you can perform music written hundreds of years ago, the way it would have sounded to the people who composed it, is extremely attractive and thrilling,” observes Brian. “Paul’s [Dyer] genuine love of sharing this music to audiences, and his relationship with them, is infectious.”
Brian has performed with many of Australia’s most prominent orchestras, including the Sydney Symphony, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes. Brian also plays with the Australian Chamber Orchestra where the guest Timpani chair is sponsored in his name.
Brian’s career highlights are numerous but in terms of magnitude and momentous occasions he singles out the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. “Getting to play at the ceremony was extraordinary! The first time I arrived in Vienna to play Mozart was overwhelming; taking the music that the Brandenburg specialises in back to Europe where this music was born was an emotionally exhilarating experience that’s hard to describe.”
Although Brian used to take time out from rehearsal and performance by racing go-karts and scuba diving, these days he’s more likely to be diving into Handel’s Water Music. “Music is my life … The only goal is to play music to the best of your ability and for all of us to create the best performance possible. I never view what I do as work. It’s a privilege.”