Marsyas Trio

flute cello piano

Marsyas Trio takes its name from Greek mythology – a dedication to the pipe-playing satyr, Marsyas. Having dared to compete in a musical contest with Apollo, God of the Lyre, Marsyas won the contest but lost his life to the envious wrath of Apollo, saving his dying breaths for the instrument he immortalised. This mythology encapsulates the spirit and passion of becoming a musician. 

Australian flautist Helen Vidovich, Canadian cellist Valerie Welbanks and pianist Fei Ren from New Zealand met as postgraduate students at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Since 2009, the Marsyas Trio has performed throughout the UK, Europe and Asia. Dedicated to music from the Classical Period to the present day, the Trio is also proactive in the commissioning of new music, with an aim to inspire a generation of new works for this chamber ensemble. In 2015 the Marsyas Trio’s debut CD, A Triple Portrait, was released by Meridian Records, featuring a newly commissioned work and other chamber music by Russian émigré composer Elena Firsova. The disc, marking Firsova’s 25-year musical contribution to the UK, received reviews internationally.

The Marsyas Trio has appeared live on Bulgarian National Television and Radio, has been broadcast on Dutch ‘Radio Monalisa’, and in June this year performed live on BBC Radio 3. Their 2014 commission from the British composer Laura Bowler was premiered as part of a cross-arts project at the Grimeborn Festival (Arcola Theatre, London), with shadow puppetry from Smoking Apples. Their next commission is from Hilary Tann, and will be premiered at the 2017 Vale of Glamorgan Festival, alongside the premiere of a new work by Steph Power. 

The Marsyas Trio’s performance is refined; Vidovich’s flute playing languid and sinuous, Ren’s piano delicate and sensitive and Welbanks’ cello lends a darkness and gravitas to the sound without compromising the intimacy of the works.
— Angus McPherson, Limelight Magazine

Marsyas Trio is generously supported by:

Helen Vidovich completed undergraduate music studies in Melbourne, subsequently moving to Sydney to study with Alison Mitchell and Geoffrey Collins. In 2006 she completed a Master of Music Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium, receiving an Australian Bicentennial Scholarship to assist further postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 2006-07. Helen has been a pupil of Michael Cox and Patricia Morris on piccolo, and more recently has undertaken study with members of the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. She has also taken part in the LSO Training Scheme, performed under the baton of Sir Colin Davis and completed summer courses and masterclasses in Italy, France, England and Sweden. In Australia she has appeared on several occasions as a concerto soloist with the Sydney Chamber Orchestra. As an orchestral player, Helen has successfully auditioned as a freelance musician with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. She is currently undertaking additional studies with Sharon Williams (London Symphony Orchestra).

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Dr Valerie Welbanks completed a Masters in Music Performance in 2008 at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with distinction from Philip Sheppard’s class. She has since undertaken with Alexander Ivashkin and Natalia Pavlutskaya. She now plays regularly with the Ligeti Quartet, who are resident quartet at Cambridge University. Valerie’s interest in cross-disciplinary projects has led her to appear in several dance projects and plays including La Suggia, a new production she initiated in collaboration with Bulgarian dramaturge Miryana Dimitrova. Valerie has appeared as a recitalist in Canada, South Africa and the UK and has performed concertos with the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec (Elgar), Goldsmiths Choir (Gubaidulina Sonnengesang), Torbay Symphony Orchestra (Lutoslawski and Dvorak), and will be returning to Quebec City in June 2017 to perform the Dvorak Cello Concerto with l'Orchestre Philarmonique de la Releve de Quebec. She has recently completed her PhD, having submitted a thesis codifying modern techniques for the cello.

Pianist Fei Ren graduated with distinction from the PGDip Performance program at the Royal Academy of Music in 2008. She received the Lloyd Hartley Prize in 2008 from the Academy, and was a finalist in the keyboard section of the Royal Overseas League competition in 2007. While at the Academy, Fei studied under Professor Christopher Elton. Previously, Fei completed a Masters degree at the University of Auckland with First Class Honours, studying under Professor Tamas Vesmas. She was the winner of the school's Concerto Competition in 2004, and of the New Zealand’s National Concerto Competition in 2005. Fei also received the Encouragement Award in the Lev-Vlassenko Piano Competition in Australia.  In 2008 Fei won Third Prize at the International Concerto Competition in Romania. She has performed with the Auckland Philharmonic, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Youth Orchestra, the "Banatul" Philharmonic Orchestra, and the English Philharmonica, with which she had further engagements in 2014.

Photographer: Benjamin Harte

Premiere recordings of the captivating, profound music of Elena Firsova...performed with devoted insight and sensitivity by the Marsyas Trio.
— Julian Haylock, The Strad
It is Baudelaire rather than Mandelstam whom Firsova evokes with her most direct tribute to the admirable Marsyas Trio, A Triple Portrait ...At a time when modernism is slowly fading away as a model of choice for younger composers, Firsova’s music makes a plausible case for such deeper, darker echoes.
— Arnold Whittall, Tempo
...these fine artists weaving some tremendous sounds around each other. They give this work a terrific performance finding out all of its depth and emotion.
— Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer