Skip to the content

Artistic Director- Fintan Murphy

Fintan currently teaches at the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts secondary school.  Previous positions include a fourteen-year tenure as the Head of strings and music performance at Monash University, a fulltime member of the Melbourne Symphony (1987-1991) and of the Elizabethan trust Melbourne orchestra (Orchestra Victoria, 1980-1981). Fintan now performs as a recitalist and chamber musician collaborating with such artists as Elizabeth Wallfisch, David Selig, Christian Wojtowicz, Harmut Lindemann, David Bollard and others.

After studying with Nathan Gutman in Melbourne, Fintan completed further study in Cologne with Helfried Fister, Christoph Poppen and the Amadeus quartet. He completed his Masters degree with Robert Gerle in Washington, D.C. 

Fintan’s research focuses on string pedagogy and he is a leader in the development of teacher training and instrument specific pedagogy both inside and outside the university system. Since 1994 he has developed and taught string pedagogy courses to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has supervised numerous post-graduate students and presented over 400 seminars, summer schools workshops and conference presentations throughout Australia, the Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. 

Fintan sees the importance of working with disciplines such as psychology, drama as well as sports training, in order to develop rounded musicians who have healthy and satisfying careers. His collaborations with psychologists, health scientists and body use professionals have led him to publish peer reviewed articles in journals such as the British, the Australian and the International Journals of Music Education. Fintan has won many competitive grants including an Australian Research Council linkage grant.

Fintan has authored many publications available on the websites and which have been favourably reviewed in journals such as The Strad, Stringendo and American String teacher. Fintan is the String Specialist and Chair of the Australian Music Examinations Board String Specialist Examining Panel (Vic.) He has edited series 7, eight books of graded violin repertoire for the AMEB and was the author for the 2023 AMEB violin diploma syllabus.  

For almost thirty years, Fintan has directed the Melbourne String Ensemble ( a touring youth orchestra specializing in small ensemble repertoire and chamber music for strings. Under Fintan’s direction MSE has toured Europe eight times. Fintan’s students have won positions in orchestras throughout Germany and Australia and gone on to further study at institutions such as the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and Hochschulen für Musik in Cologne, Stuttgart and Munich.

Zoe Knighton

MSE Chamber Co-Music Director

Zoe is a founding member and Artistic Director of Flinders Quartet, one of Australia’s finest chamber ensembles. The group has commissioned many works, been nominated for an ARIA for best classical album and continues to be a champion of Australian Chamber music. “Flinders Quartet…whose players give such care and unanimity of musical thought to Australian Chamber Music” Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald

Zoe started the cello at the age of 9 with Jill Kahans before learning from Christian Wojtowicz, Michel Strauss (Paris) Nelson Cooke, and Angela Sargeant, she is now in demand as chamber coach and teacher at various institutions.

She has released 10 CDs on the MOVE label, 7 with duo partner Amir Farid and been  praised for her “thrilling tenor sound” and “many technical demands carried off with ease”. (Limelight magazine) “She radiates confidence in her work and participates with personality and no little finesse.”... “Well worth hearing for the pleasure given through this player’s familiar warmth and honesty of musical character.” Clive O’Connell. Together with Farid, they have performed and broadcast widely and gave their Carnegie Hall debut in April, 2023.

Zoe is artistic patron of Resonance String Ensemble in Woodend/Castlemaine and plays on a 2020 cello made by Australian instrument maker Rainer Beilharz and a 1780 cello by Benjamin Banks. In order to keep up with her children, she now knows how to score basketball.

IMSE Music Director - Michael Loftus-Hills

Michael Loftus-Hills is a Melbourne violinist, pianist, violin teacher and Alexander Technique teacher who has worked primarily with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 1996 and teaches violin at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and the Alexander Technique at the Australian National Academy of Music.

From 2009-2012, Michael was the Head of Strings at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, The University of Melbourne. He is a teacher of all levels and has directed many workshops for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s “Outreach” education arm including as Artistic Director of the “Pizzicato Effect” in Broadmeadows; an El Sistema-inspired program. He has managed and performed for the Musica Viva schools program with the string quartet “Strung Out” and was a consultant for the Series 9 Violin Syllabus for the Australian Music Examination Board. He is an AMEB examiner and adjudicates at competitions around Melbourne. He tutors for the Australian Youth Orchestra, Border Music Camp in Albury, NSW, conducts the Intermediate Melbourne String Ensemble and is an orchestral mentor at Monash University.

In 2017, he graduated from three years of full time training where he received the Advanced Diploma of Alexander Technique Teaching and has attracted students and professional musicians from around Australia. He also works with non-musicians to help alleviate pain in everyday life and enjoys exploring broader applications of the technique.

He performs regularly in New York with pianist Amir Farid and in Australia and in South-East Asia as a pianist in a duo with MSO violinist Isin Cakmakcioglu. His latest album with Isin is Souvenirs Nostalgiques (2022) available on Spotify and iTunes.


Naomi Durston 

JMSE Music Director 

JMSE is excited to be welcoming Naomi Durston to the JMSE in 2024

Naomi is a violinist and teacher with a passion for sharing her love of music with students of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. She completed her Masters in Music performance at Melbourne
University in 2002 and was a freelance violinist playing for many years with Orchestra Victoria,
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. She has taught in schools
and privately for nearly 30 years. Most recently she has been working with Pizzicato Effect and is the ensemble director at Collingwood College where she also teaches individual violin and viola.


MSE Auditions

MSE Auditions now open

Melbourne String Ensemble acknowledges the Wurundjeri, Woi-Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, upon whose Country we are based and recognises their continuing connections to community, culture and country.  We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.