I was in Canada when I heard that the Australian Chamber Orchestra was looking for a Principal Second Violin. I had finished my studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and I went to Banff for three months for a residency.

Helena Rathbone Helena Rathbone. Photo © Nic Walker

In those days fax machines were really new and exciting, and I remember receiving a fax from my violin teacher saying, “The ACO has asked me to put forward some names of some of my students who might be interested, and I’ve put your name forward.”

I was in the Rocky Mountains having a hell of a time. I had loads of work in London lined up when I got back, and I thought I’d love to go to Australia, but it wasn’t really the right time. I got back to London in January, the weather was dreadful, and I thought maybe I should try. So, I phoned them and they said, “yes, we’ve still got a spot, we need somebody for three weeks over Easter”. So, I came out for three weeks, and then went back. That was in April 1994....

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