Classical Guitarist – Andrew Blanch

Andrew Blanch is that truly rare musician, who combines profound musical intelligence, curiosity and passion with a technique that allows anything. A complete artist. 

Howard Penny, Head of Strings at ANAM, Member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. 

At the age of only 32, Australian classical guitarist Andrew Blanch is already at the very forefront of the country’s classical music industry.  His busy concert schedule sees him frequently travel around the country to give sold-out and critically acclaimed shows at the most prestigious venues such as Victoria’s Melbourne Recital Centre, and South Australia’s Ukaria.  He’s played multiple sold-out shows at the Sydney Opera House, his most recent being given five stars in a rave review by Sydney Arts Guide, “Five stars for a unique offering. Five stars for setting aside angular, dissonant music for the sake of being “modern” and instead choosing music with wide appeal. Five stars for outstanding performance. Five stars for all the Australian commissioned works. Five stars for style and class.” 

Andrew’s the recipient of many accolades including more than 10 prizes in music competitions including 1st prizes in the Melbourne and Adelaide International Guitar Competitions, the Sydney Eisteddfod’s open guitar competition and the Whitworth-Roach Classical Music Competition in Canberra.  He’s been nominated for AIR Best Classical Album Award of the Year for his 2020 album Alchemy, and was nominated for Performance of the Year in the 2022 Art Music Awards for his performance of Felicity Wilcox’s Tipping Point with Ensemble Offspring.  In November 2019, Andrew was featured on the front cover of Australia’s premiere classical music and arts magazine, Limelight Magazine, as one of ‘30 young Australian musicians destined for greatness’. 

In addition to his solo activities Andrew is a serial collaborator with many leading musicians.  Andrew has been a member of the New Zealand Guitar Quartet since 2020, with whom he has also recorded a full-length studio album due for release mid-2024.  He has performed as a key member of leading Australian new music ensemble, Ensemble Offspring in numerous Australian tours of their show ‘The Surge’, and ‘Barra’, which featured in City Recital Hall as part of the Sydney Festival.  Andrew has been an associate artist of the Bowerbird Collective since 2023, and has performed around Australia and the world with orchestras such as the Beecroft Symphony Orchestra, the Christchurch Camerata, the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra, the IDM Orchestra in Valencia, Spain and more.  In 2023 Andrew formed a new supergroup of Australian guitarists, the Australian Guitar Quartet, with Vladimir Gorbach and the Grigoryan Brothers, they are 2024 Musica Viva Australia touring artists.  Andrew has worked with many leading Australian composers to create new music for the instrument including Elena Kats-Chernin, Robert Davidson, Jessica Wells, Felicity Wilcox, Sally Whitwell, Tristan Coelho, Richard Charlton, Daniel Rojas, all of whom he has commissioned new work from.  In 2023 Andrew recorded Daniel Rojas’s new Guitar Concerto No. 1 written especially for him, with an orchestra under conductor Emmanuele Baldini in São Paulo, Brazil.

Andrew’s recording career began with his debut solo album, Spanish Guitar Music (2015), which received glowing reviews, and was dubbed “one of the best debut albums I’ve ever heard” by leading classical guitar journal, Soundboard Magazine (USA).  His subsequent albums Alchemy (2021), and Suite mágica (2024) reached No 2, and No 1 on the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Classical Album charts respectively, with the latter album being called ‘one of the most extraordinary albums to come out of Australia in a long time’ by Sydney Arts Guide.  All three albums are played regularly on Australia’s classical music radio station ABC Classic, as well as appearances on international stations such as BBC Radio 3 and HRT-HR3, an equivalent station in Croatia.  Suite mágica was streamed more than 250,000 times in its first three weeks across Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.  In 2023, Andrew recorded a full-length studio album with the New Zealand Guitar Quartet due for release June 2024, and a 20-minute guitar concerto with orchestra in Brazil with the Sao Paulo Chamber Soloists due for release early 2025 on an album of Latin American Music for the guitar.  

Andrew is President of the Classical Guitar Society Sydney, is managed by Tier 1 Arts, plays a 2014 Greg Smallman and Sons guitar, and is sponsored by Augustine Strings.

Assistant Conductor – Jennifer Ridgway

Jennifer Ridgway is an accomplished performer, music educator and conductor with a wealth of experience in the industry. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education, specializing in Performance and Elective Conducting Units, which she completed from March 2017 to 2021.

Jennifer currently serves as the Conductor for the Northside Concert Band, Conductor for Sydney Youth Orchestra Winter and Summer Schools and Music Educator and Conductor for Brigidine College. In addition, she has held many other positions as Conductor, Assistant Band Director and Sectional Leader at various schools in Sydney.

Jennifer has participated in several professional development programs and workshops, including ABODA 2022 Conducting School Level 2 in February 2022, the Midwest Clinic Conference 2014 and 2019 as well as the Conducting Artistry Workshop in July 2020. She also completed Conducting 1, 2, and Advanced Units at Sydney Conservatorium between February 2019 and November 2020, achieving high distinctions consistently. She has worked with renowned conductors and educators such as George Ellis, John Lynch, and Stephen Mould, and participated in workshops with Dr. Mary Schneider, Dr. Rob McWilliams and Mark Camphouse.

Jennifer has significant performance experience and has played in many orchestras and ensembles such as the Sydney Youth Orchestra, Regional Youth Orchestra, North Shore Wind Symphony, Northern Beaches Orchestra, Northern Sydney Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Sydney Conservatorium Flute Ensemble, and Ensemble Da Capo.

Anita Carmon-Crawford

As a scholarship holder, Anita completed her undergraduate studies on viola at the Australian Institute of Music, studying with Winifred Durie and later, Dr. Deborah Lander. Her conducting studies were supervised by Henryk Pisarek and Nikolai Sokolov. During and after these undergraduate studies, she worked as a freelance violist with a variety of ensembles including the Sydney Sinfonia Orchestra, the Opera Australia Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney University Graduate Choir Orchestra. Anita completed her postgraduate studies with Jeremy Williams at the Tasmanian Conservatorium (on full scholarship) and was invited to participate in the 2013 Soloist IsaMasterclasses held in Semmering, Austria.

In 2019, she attended (as an observer) both The TSO’s Australian Conducting Academy Summer School and the Queensland Conservatorium’s Orchestra Conducting School. In 2022 she participated in the Carlo Montanaro Opera Conducting Masterclasses held in Sydney. In both 2022 and 2023 she participated in the NSSWE Conducting Development Program.

Anita has taught both viola and violin since her undergraduate studies. She currently works as both an instrumental tutor and a conductor for the Amadeus Music Education Program.

Andrew Mee

Andrew graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music Studies (2019), majoring in Piano performance under the guidance of Dr Kirill Monorosi. Since then he has completed a Masters degree in Secondary Teaching, and currently works as a Music Teacher.  

He has built up a diverse range of conducting and teaching experience as both an instrumental teacher and coordinator of school programs.