A new chamber group made its debut in Sydney on Friday 11 June, joining a busy collection of ensembles. The Forelle Ensemble, a piano quintet, are the minnows in the current, distinguishing themselves by paying homage to Austrian chamber music. It is the initiative of violinist James Armstrong who conceived of the idea after a three-week immersion tour of Vienna and Salzburg in early 2020 as winner of the inaugural Austria Scholarship granted by Sydney Youth Orchestras and the Austrian National Tourist Office in 2019 to the then 19-year-old.

Hosted by the Austrian National Tourist Office at Mosman Art Gallery, the opening concert showcased the Forelle Ensemble comprising Armstrong, violist Aisha Goodman, cellist Angela Shin, double-bassist Lilly Bennett and pianist Estelle Shircore Barker playing an all-Schubert line-up.

The Forelle Ensemble at its debut concert with Kathrina Denk and Astrid Gruchmann-Licht, the Marketing Manager and Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office, Australia. Photograph © ANTO/Andy Baker

During his time in Austria, Armstrong attended rehearsals with the Vienna Philharmonic and other major orchestras, a masterclass at the Musikverein, and concerts by the Chicago Symphony...