Over the past two years, Helena has been studying a Master of Philosophy at the UQ School of Music. Under the supervision of Dr Denis Collins and Patrick Murphy, her research investigates how vibrato is used in contemporary viola performance. Data was collected through analysis of vibrato use in recordings by six different violists from the last thirty years using Sonic Visualiser software.

These findings inspired practical experimentation with vibrato on the viola and ultimately shaped the final performance. While most research available on vibrato use in string playing relates to historically informed practice, this research focusses on contemporary vibrato use so understanding can be gained on how professional violists use vibrato in the present day. It is hoped that this research can inspire other violists to experiment with their vibrato in practice of Hindemith’s op. 25 no. 1 sonata and other viola repertoire. 

Performance Biography 

Helena Burns is a Brisbane-born violist who will undertake her first year at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in 2024 under the tutelage of Caroline Henbest. She graduated with her Bachelor of Music and First Class Honours from the University of Queensland (UQ) in 2021 and will graduate with her Master of Philosophy from UQ in 2024. Throughout her time at UQ, Helena had the privilege and joy of studying with the wonderful Professor Patricia Pollett. 

Helena is an avid orchestral musician who frequently performs in her hometown of Brisbane and throughout Australia. Helena performed with Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra on several occasions throughout 2023 as an Upbeat Artist. As part this program, she performed in the Heartstrings, From My Homeland and Viva Violin subscription series concerts at QPAC and Toowoomba’s Armitage Theatre, the Orange Chamber Music Festival, and Queensland Ballet’s Trilogy. Helena was delighted to share her passion for chamber orchestra with regional audiences on Camerata’s annual Tour of North Queensland and by delivering school workshops with the group in Toowoomba. She will also feature on Camerata’s studio recording of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings being released in late 2023 and on Channel 9’s Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols. 

Helena has also held principal positions with the UQ Pulse Chamber Orchestra, the UQ Symphony Orchestra and the Curro Chamber Orchestra at the Australian Youth Orchestra’s (AYO) National Music Camp in 2020. She has also been a member of the AYO flagship ensemble over the past two years, with highlights including the 2022 National Tour under the baton of Sir Mark Elder and Ngapa William Cooper with Nigel Westlake, Lior and Dr Lou Bennet. 

In addition to orchestral performance, Helena also enjoys performing as a chamber musician. Helena is a founding member of Amiti String Quartet, an ensemble which has been increasingly active on the Australian music scene in recent years. Since their debut at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s Winterschool in 2021, Amiti have focussed on bringing chamber music to regional areas of Australia by sharing their knowledge and performances with regional audiences. In 2023, Amiti participated in the AYO Momentum Ensemble Quartet Residency at the Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium for the annual String Camp. This opportunity enabled Amiti to share their passion for chamber music with students through recital, Q&A sessions, personal and group tutoring, collaboration throughout the rehearsal process and performing alongside them in the final concert. 

In 2024, Amiti String Quartet will bring chamber music to Goldburn and receive tutoring from the Orava Quartet at the AYO Chamber Players program. Amiti will also record a piece written for the quartet by Brisbane-based composer, Abigail Lui, as a part of ABC Classic’s 2024 composer commissioning fund. The piece is inspired by poetry which highlights aspects of life around the Brisbane River, and the way its residents change as time passes. 

About Alumni events

UQ alumni and community events take place in-person and online, across the globe, throughout the year. UQ alumni are invited to join the UQ ChangeMakers platform to access early event registrations, benefits and discounts.

Join UQ ChangeMakers