Opera Australia has announced the appointment of French violinist Matthieu Arama as Concertmaster for the Opera Australia Orchestra (OAO).

Arama will join the OAO in August this year. He steps into a role covered by Acting Concertmaster Huy-Nguen Bui since the previous Concertmaster Jun Yi Ma left in August 2022 in less-than-amicable circumstances after a vote of no confidence in his COVID-era leadership was passed by orchestra members. It was also rumoured that Ma was unhappy to play with the orchestra for musical theatre productions such as The Phantom of the Opera. Ma had served as OAO’s Concertmaster since July 2015.

Matthieu Arama. Photo supplied

Currently Concertmaster of the orchestra of the Opéra National de Bordeaux, Arama will be responsible for leading the OAO throughout an annual program of more than 250 performances of opera, ballet, musical theatre and concerts for OA and The Australian Ballet. Arama has already served as Guest Concertmaster for OA on La Traviata and Swan Lake with The Australian Ballet.

“Mr Arama’s appointment is brilliant news,” said OA Artistic Director Jo Davies. “He’s an accomplished player and recognised orchestral leader and it was vital we found a Concertmaster befitting of the expert standard of OAO and each of our musicians, all of which the Company is very proud. I believe Mr Arama will be an inspiring leader and a fantastic ambassador for the OAO for both OA and The Australian Ballet.”

Arama began playing the violin aged six and made his debut as a soloist at Paris’ Salle Gaveau at 11. He studied at the Paris Conservatory (CNSM) with Sylvie Gazeau and José Alvarez. Later, he was accepted into Igor Oistrakh’s class at Brussels’ Royal Conservatory.

He has performed as a soloist worldwide with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Montréal Symphony and The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.

Arama was appointed Concertmaster of the orchestra of Opéra National de Bordeaux, France’s second-largest opera house in 2009. He is also a Professor at the Pôle d’Enseignement Supérieur de Bordeaux-Aquitaine (Bordeaux University).

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