Festival Directors

Howard Penny was born in Canberra and after studies with Nelson Cooke moved to Vienna, studying with Tobias Kühne, Andre Navarra, Boris Pergamenshikov and William Pleeth.

He won the ABC Young Performers Awards, and his concerto performances have included concerts at the Sydney Opera House, Vienna Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Berlin Schauspielhaus, Suntory Hall Tokyo and Casals Festival Prades.

A regular Principal Cello with Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Vienna Radio Orchestra and Australian World Orchestra, he is a long-standing member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, working with the world’s leading conductors and soloists, participating in over 100 CD and DVD recordings. As a chamber musician he has appeared in Wigmore Hall, Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Beethoven Festival Bonn and KREMERata Lockenhaus.

A regular guest with Concentus Musicus (Harnoncourt) and Lecturer in Performance Practice at the University Mozarteum Salzburg for ten years, he was musical co-director of two Mozart operas for the extraordinary 2006 Salzburg Festival complete cycle. His numerous CD recordings include works for solo cello, a live recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto from the Vienna Konzerthaus, major works for piano trio with the Beethoven Trio Vienna, first recordings of Boccherini quintets and sextets, and many other chamber works. Howard frequently directs from the cello – a Haydn opera at ANAM with tenor Steve Davislim and soprano Sara Macliver being a highlight – and is a regular guest at all major Australian chamber music festivals. He also works closely with AYO in various projects.

Since 2007 Howard has been a member of the Resident Faculty of the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, where he is now Head of Strings.

Chris Howlett is a cellist, artistic director and producer.

He completed his studies in 2011 graduating from the Australian National Academy of Music.  As a cellist Chris performs regularly at festivals, performs regional tours and has given concertos around the world.

Chris is Co-Founder of Australian Digital Concert Hall, with Adele Schonhardt, which launched in March 2020 as a response to the pandemic. ADCH has enabled 1500 Australian artists to earn $2 million from 550. ADCH has also invested an additional $1 million into the industry through employment and short term contracts.

Together they have been honoured with awards including the

  • 2022 The Australian – The List: 100 Arts and Cultural Leaders
  • 2021 Creative Partnerships Australia – Arts Leadership Award,
  • 2021 Sidney Myer Fellowship Award – Facilitator Prize
  • 2021 APRA AMCOS Art Music Award – Luminary Organisation, Victoria
  • 2020 National Live Music Award for excellence in supporting Australian live music during COVID-19

Chris is a Festival Director with Howard Penny of both Bendigo Chamber Music Festival (BCMF) and Sanguine Estate Music Festival (SEMF), both which have established themselves as two of the leading chamber music festivals in Australia. BCMF is a large scale festival held in Bendigo over 5 days, presenting 15 recitals.  SEMF is a boutique festival held in Heathcote at the Sanguine Estate winery.  Both festivals have an active Community outreach program creating the opportunities of Chamber Music and educational forums to the less fortunate.

He is founder of Australian International Productions which before the pandemic, presented over 150 concerts in China per year including Opera, Orchestral, Drama, Recital and Music Theatre. It was Australia’s largest exporter of classical music to China.

He is also past Chairman of 3MBS Radio Station and past Chairman of PATMA Educational Concerts.

Chris performs on a Thomas Kennedy English Cello made in 1820 and would like to thank those who have so generously supported him in its purchase.