The Perth Guitar Quartet formed in 2013 and is the premier professional guitar quartet in WA, aiming to feature Australian works for guitar with a specific focus on expanding the repertoire through new commissions by local Perth composers. The members of the Perth Guitar Quartet are Melissa Fitzgerald, Chris Kotchie, Jameson Feakes, and Robert Parker. They have all established themselves as in-demand performers and teachers in Perth and internationally.
Since its inception, the Perth Guitar Quartet has given performances for WAAPA, the Classical Guitar Society of WA, the Fulbright Commission’s Scholar Showcase, North Street Music’s ‘Chamber Jam’ Series, Cappuccino Concerts, as well as many private functions. In 2016, the quartet worked with The National Trust (WA) to present "Sound from the Ground", which was a sold-out two-night immersive concert experience exploring the rich history of the main burial grounds for the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. This event won the 2017 Museums & Galleries National Award for Interpretation, Learning & Audience Engagement Level 2.
The Perth Guitar Quartet has recorded Australian composer Nigel Westlake’s Six Fish as part of Melissa’s PhD, and has most recently recorded Duncan Gardiner's newest suite, Stone, Shell, Bone and Feather, composed especially for the Sound from the Ground concerts.
Dr Melissa Fitzgerald's "sleek, polished perfection," coupled with "passion and drive" has seen her performing regularly as a soloist and chamber musician. Highlights include performances for the Classical Guitar Society of WA, Edith Cowan University, the Heart Foundation, Alliance Française, Kidsafe WA, the Commonwealth Bank, and appearances on RTRFM's guitar show. Her prowess as a performer has been recognised through several awards and competitions. Notably, Melissa was a finalist in WAAPA's 2013 Warana Concerto Competition, where she performed Leo Brouwer's Concerto Elegiaco with the Faith Court Orchestra.
In 2017 she graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with her PhD thesis, Bridging the Great Divide: An Exploration of Postmodernism in the Guitar Music of Nigel Westlake.
She also undertook her undergraduate studies at WAAPA under the guidance of Dr Jonathan Paget. She completed her Bachelor of Music in 2010 and was selected as a finalist for the Helen Court Award for most outstanding graduating music student. In 2011 she received First Class Honours for her dissertation titled Minimalism and the Guitar. While completing her undergraduate degrees, Melissa regularly participated in masterclasses with renowned Australian guitarists, Slava Grigoryan, Karin Schaupp, Timothy Kain, and Tonié Field. She also travelled to the United States to take lessons from Jason Vieaux (Cleveland Institute of Music), Ben Verdery (Yale) and Nicholas Goluses (Eastman School of Music).
A love of performing guitar chamber music at WAAPA led her to create the Perth Guitar Quartet in 2013. The group gave its debut performance at her PhD recital. They have since become Perth's premier professional guitar quartet. In addition, Melissa performs regularly in duos with Shayne Harris (flute) and Chris Kotchie.
In addition to performing, Melissa is a sessional staff member at WAAPA, where she is currently directing the Plectra Guitar Ensemble and assisting with chamber music coaching. She also maintains a full studio at Trinity College in East Perth, Seton Catholic College in Samson, and St Stephen's in Duncraig.
More about Melissa: melissafitzgerald.com.au
Perth-raised classical guitarist, composer and educator Chris Kotchie graduated from Western Academy of Performing Arts in 2012 with a Bachelor of Music (Classical Performance), gaining acknowledgment from the board of examiners for his outstanding academic achievements. During his studies, Chris received masterclasses from renowned Australian guitarists, Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, the Melbourne Guitar Quartet, the Australian Guitar Duo, Timothy Kain, and Australian composer Phillip Houghton. Since graduating, Chris has maintained a busy schedule of teaching, composing and performing, both nationally and internationally.
Chris has been in-demand as a guitarist, regularly playing at weddings, salons, cafes, corporate and private functions, as well as musical theatre productions. Overseas, he has played at International Schools and Universities. As a founding member of the Perth Guitar Quartet, Chris has performed at many of the quartet’s major performances. His versatility as a guitarist has been recognised through his participation in an experimental new music project, culminating in an ABC studio recording in 2013.
In 2016, Chris relocated to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he spent time teaching, composing and performing. It was while overseas that he premiered his composition, The Lighthouse, a symbolist work written for solo guitar. He also wrote The Dawn is at Hand, a flute and guitar piece which will be premiered in Perth in 2018.
Chris is currently based in Perth, where he continues to work on his compositions and runs a private teaching studio.
More about Chris: chriskotchie.com
Jameson began his guitar studies at an early age and explored many styles before focusing on classical guitar. He has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the Western Australia Academy of performing arts as a student of Dr Jonathan Paget and is currently pursuing an honours degree at the University of Western Australia. During his early studies, Jameson developed a passion for the music of Australian composers of guitar music such as Nigel Westlake and Ross Edwards and Shaun Rigney. Notable highlights of his time at WAAPA were achieving a semi-finalist position at the Adelaide Guitar Competition and performing in the Helen Court Young Performer of the Year competition.
Over the years, Jameson has received masterclasses and lessons from many world renowned guitarists including Timothy Kain, Los Angles Guitar Quartet, Johannes Möller, Australian Guitar Duo, and the Grigoryan Brothers.
Jameson regularly performs around Perth exploring many musical possibilites including solo concerts, performances with his guitar quartet, new music ensembles, and more recently as an improvisor with various colleagues as well as the Perth iMprov Collective. He is currently aiming to explore more modern music for the guitar and perform works by new and exciting composers both local and international.
More about Jameson: jamesonfeakes.com
Robert’s innate expressivity and technical facility has led to an expanding performance schedule as a soloist and chamber musician. Notably, in 2016, he performed at the Perth Concert Hall as part of Edith Cowan University’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. In February 2017, Robert performed in the West Australian Symphony Orchestra with acclaimed tenor, Ian Bostridge, for their performance of The Dark Mirror: Zender’s Winterreise, as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. In the second half of 2017, Robert was fortunate to join the UWA Guitar Studio on their tour of WA’s south west region and their Melbourne concert for the Melbourne Guitar Foundation. He also travelled to Malaysia for performances at the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).
Robert started taking classical guitar lessons at a young age. His passion for the instrument quickly grew and before long he started exploring contemporary guitar, playing many different genres of music. For the start of his career, Robert worked with many Perth bands, regularly performing and recording.
More recently, Robert made the switch back to classical guitar. He began his Bachelor of Music studies at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts under the instruction of Dr Jonathan Fitzgerald. During his studies, he has also been privileged to receive masterclasses from Karin Schaupp and the Grigoryan Brothers.