Elizabeth Woolnough is the ACO's newest - and youngest - member.
Elizabeth joined the Orchestra in 2019. She grew up on the Central Coast, and started playing the viola almost accidentally, because her music school had too many violins and cellos, and her teacher thought her ‘long arms’ would suit the bigger instrument. Elizabeth grew to love the instrument while she was studying at the Sydney Conservatorium, where she, alongside three other students, started a string quartet that won the Westheimer Scholarship in 2015. This award allowed the quartet to travel across Europe and study under masters in Germany and France.
The ACO was, Elizabeth says, the orchestra she listened to as a kid, and she still finds it ‘mind-blowing’ to be a part of it. She was a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 2017–2018, but she prefers playing in the smaller ensemble, because it allows for more spontaneity in performance, and means that every player has to be on their game at all times – Elizabeth thrives on this kind of pressure.
Elizabeth plays her own viola, a 1968 instrument made by the Parisian luthier Pierre Audinot. Her favourite composer is Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose string sound she describes as ‘incredible’, and her favourite composition is his ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis’.