Virtuoso Profile

Hugh Ponnuthurai
Bassoon

Hugh has over 30 years experience as both a performer and educator, and has held positions in several Australian Orchestras


About Me

Hugh commenced studying the Bassoon with Frances Tempest at Perth Modern School. He is a graduate of Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) at Edith Cowan University where he studied with Mr. Peter Moore. During this time he was also fortunate to study with the late Henk de Wit, noted Dutch bassoonist and a member of Ensemble Couperin.

As a performer he began his working career as a contract player with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) whilst still a high school student. He continued to work for the WASO until 1989 whilst also holding the position of tutti Bassoon of the West Australian Arts Orchestra from 1987. In 1988 he was a member of the bassoon section of the Australian Youth Orchestra touring through Europe as part of the Australian Bicentennial celebrations.

The following year, whilst still at WAAPA, he was contracted to act as Principal Bassoon with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. In 1989 he won the inaugural Town and Country prize for performance at WAAPA. 1990 took him to Melbourne to study with Harold Evans at the VCA and casual work with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. During his time in Melbourne he also worked with Chamber Made Opera.

In 1991 Hugh was appointed as the Associate Principal Bassoon of the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra and remained in this position upon amalgamation with the Queensland Symphony. This position was held for a total of 16 years. From 1991 to 2001 Hugh was also a regular with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, participating in multiple national tours and recordings. Also during this period he was guest principal bassoon on occasion with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Since moving to Melbourne in 2007 Hugh has been a regular player with Orchestra Victoria and has also worked with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. As a freelance player Hugh has enjoyed contracts with Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Really Useful Company’s production of Love Never Dies, Opera Australia’s The King and I and My Fair Lady, and Chess, The King and I, West Side Story, Brigadoon, and Oklahoma (June 2018) for The Production Company. Hugh also appeared with the Victorian Opera in their acclaimed performance of The Black Riders in 2017. He has also appeared with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared as guest principal bassoon with the Opera Australia Orchestra on a number of occasions.

He was most recently the Lecturer in Bassoon at the University of Melbourne where he also taught Chamber Music and Concert Practice and was the founding teacher of The Melbourne Bassoon Academy. Prior to this he held similar positions at the Universities of Tasmania and Queensland.

He has performed concerti on both bassoon and contrabassoon with the Queensland Philharmonic, Queensland Symphony, West Australian Symphony and the Australian Doctors Orchestra. Hugh continues as a freelance player based in Melbourne and is also a regular tutor for the National Music Camp association. He has been a member of the selection panel for the Australian Youth Orchestra and National Music camp and has been the bassoon tutor for the Australian International Symphony Orchestra Institute. During his tenure in Brisbane, he was the bassoon tutor and choral director at the McGregor Summer School in Toowoomba.

He is a committed teacher and has had a number of students who have gone on to become professional players both in Australia and overseas. He plays on a late 9 series Heckel bassoon.

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