Rowena Simpson – Soprano
Douglas Mews – Square Piano
Robert Ibell – Cello
Rowena Simpson grew up in Wellington, Hamilton and London and began her performing career as a cellist, chorister and dancer. She studied singing with German soprano Rosemary Gordon and graduated with degrees in musicology and linguistics from Victoria University before leaving for The Netherlands in 1997, where she studied singing and historical performance practice at the Royal Conservatoire.
While based in Europe, she performed with professional chamber ensembles and was a soloist in the baroque and classical repertoires. Since returning to NZ in 2006, Rowena has developed a freelance career in chamber music and opera, performing for many organisations including Chamber Music NZ (Barocca & Tōku Ao), Stroma New Music Ensemble, NZ Barok, CBS Music Trust, Pinchgut Opera (Sydney), Days Bay Opera and as a member of the NZ Opera chorus.
Douglas Mews studied organ and harpsichord with the late Anthony Jennings at Auckland University (New Zealand) followed by harpsichord studies with Bob van Asperen at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague.
He is now a freelance musician, teaching at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington and directing the music at St Teresa's Catholic Church. In 2010 he recorded a CD on the Wellington Town Hall 1906 Norman and Beard organ for Priory Records’ ‘Great Australasian Organs’. His most recent CD (released in 2012) is 'The Lost Chord', also recorded at the Wellington Town Hall.
In these concerts Douglas will perform on a square piano made by Broadwood in 1843.
Robert Ibell was born in Dannevirke and brought up in Palmerston North. While training there as a school teacher he learned cello from Judith Hyatt in Wellington.
From 1986 to 1992 Robert lived in London, studying cello with Tania Hunt, Derek Simpson and Christopher Bunting. He played at music schools and in masterclasses (where his teachers included Alexander Baillie, Steve Doane, Anner Bylsma and Steven Isserlis), taught, gave recitals and played in professional and amateur orchestras.
Since 1993 Robert has been a member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He is also an experienced chamber musician, touring regularly for Chamber Music New Zealand. Formerly the cellist of the Nevine Quartet, Robert has been a member of the Aroha Quartet since 2009. He also plays in contemporary music group Stroma New Music Ensemble and is a Recording Artist for Radio NZ Concert.
Robert plays an 18th Century cello by an unknown Italian or German maker, gifted to him by Judith Hyatt.