C10 Viola Solitaire

  • Wednesday, 3 May 2023

  • Juliet Room, Verity Lane Market

    Sydney Building, 50 Northbourne Avenue, ACT 2601

  • With Support From

Two extraordinary viola players capture a single beautiful space in the centre of Canberra and reveal the inner secrets of the viola.

Once a maligned, even neglected instrument caught in the crossfire of violin, cello and piano, the instrument has enjoyed a true renaissance in more recent times. The three new Australian works featured in this event display the unusually expressive range of the viola as a solo instrument. Elliott Gyger’s Solitaire is an intricate compendium of viola possibilities over thirteen short movements laid out as a card game whereas Andrew Ford’s beautiful Solitude refers to the lonely days of Covid-lockdown.

Judith Wright’ Black Cockatoos became the starting point for a new project by Katie and Donald.  Both are steeped in baroque music, yet eager to extend the boundaries of sound and sonic ambiance.



Andrew Ford, In My Solitude (WP)

Elliott Gyger, Solitaire (WP)

Katie Yap/Donald Nicolson, Black Cockatoos (WP)

Florence Price, encore


Katie Yap, baroque viola

James Wannan, viola

Donald Nicolson, keyboard/electronics


Visit the Verity Lane Market Hall for a leisurely lunch after the concert.  Verity Lane Market is home to five unique vendors – Pizza Artigiana, Lim Peh’s Wantan Mee – Singaporean Cuisine, Rasa Rosa – Lombok/Indonesian Cuisine, Pasta Artigiana, Superbao – Chinese/Australian Fusion.

ARTIST Learn more about the artist

Artist Donald Nicolson


Listed among Australia’s best classical performers by the ABC in 2019, harpsichordist, organist and pianist Donald Nicolson is a prominent figure in performance and research of the music of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, and in high demand as a keyboardist, composer, and arranger.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Donald commenced harpsichord studies with Douglas Mews at Victoria University, and subsequently at the Royal Conservatorium, The Hague with early music legend Ton Koopman. There he focussed on the performance of sixteenth-century English virginal music and the seventeenth-century French clavecin school.

Donald graduated with a PhD in Musicology at the University of Melbourne in 2018, submitting a thesis that focussed on the relationship between seventeenth-century French social history and the keyboard preludes of Louis Couperin. An avid reader of the classics and ancient rhetoric Donald teaches historically-informed performance practice at the University of Melbourne, and gives regular talks and lectures on music and history.

Artist Katie Yap


Katie grew up playing the violin and piano in her hometown of Brisbane. Shortly before starting her Bachelor of Music at the University of Queensland (UQ), she fell in love with the viola and has never looked back since! Katie studied with Patricia Pollett at UQ, graduating with Honours and a University Medal in 2011. She then spent three years studying at the Australian National Academy of Music under Caroline Henbest and Christopher Moore.

Katie likes to keep her musical life varied, and her favourite kind of music making is with chamber groups. She is violist in the Chrysalis Harp Trio (2019 ANAM Artists), early music chamber groups Ironwood Ensemble and The Muses’ Delight, and joined the Australian String Quartet in 2016 in programs of quintets and sextets. In 2017, Katie spent a month in Central Queensland touring with the Orpheus Club, presenting 10 public concerts, 8 schools concerts and workshops, and recording four new Australian works.  In 2018, she joined Van Diemen’s Band in a national tour of chamber music of the late baroque period, including performances at the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, and UKARIA Cultural Centre.


Katie Yap is supported by Peter Wise

Artist James Wannan


Violist James Wannan is a founder of the Australia Piano Quartet (APQ), Co-Artistic Director of the Ensemble in Residence at the University of Technology Sydney, a member of Southern Cross Soloists and an Artistic Associate of Sydney Chamber Opera. He teaches chamber music and viola at the Sydney Conservatorium’s Rising Star program and has been a guest teacher at the Australian National Academy of Music. He is currently based in Sydney, having previously studied viola with Alice Waten and Caroline Henbest in Melbourne, Janet Davies in Sydney and viola d’amore in Vienna with Marianne Rônez. He explores his passion for music from ancient to contemporary on a number of instruments.

James has appeared as a soloist with many of Australia’s orchestras including the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, ACO2, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.