Research Summary

Over the past two years, Helena has been studying a Master of Philosophy at the UQ School of Music. Under the supervision of Dr Denis Collins and Patrick Murphy, her research investigates how vibrato is used in contemporary viola performance. Sonic Visualiser software was used to analyse recording data of six different violists from the last thirty years. These findings inspired practical experimentation with vibrato on the viola and ultimately shaped the final performance. Most research on string vibrato focuses on historical practices, but this study examines contemporary vibrato to offer new insights into its use by professional violists today It is hoped this research will inspire other violists to experiment with their vibrato in practice of Hindemith’s op. 25 no. 1 sonata and other viola repertoire.


Peter Sculthorpe – Threnody (arranged for solo viola by Patricia Pollett) 
J. S. Bach – Prelude, Bouree I and II and Gigue from Suite No. 3 in C Major 
Paul Hindemith – Sonata for Solo Viola op. 25 no. 1 

Performance Biography 

Helena Burns is a Brisbane-born violist who will undertake her first year at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in 2024 under the tutelage of Caroline Henbest. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music and First Class Honours from The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2021 and will graduate with her Master of Philosophy from UQ in 2024. During her tenure at UQ, Helena was honored and delighted to study under Professor
Patricia Pollett. 

Helena is an avid orchestral musician who frequently performs in her hometown of Brisbane and throughout Australia. She performed with Camerata – a leading Queensland Chamber Orchestra throughout 2023 as an Upbeat Artist. As part this program, she performed in the Heartstrings, From My Homeland and the Viva Violin subscription series’ concerts at QPAC. Additionally, she performed at Toowoomba’s Armitage Theatre, the Orange Chamber Music Festival and Queensland Ballet’s Trilogy. Helena was delighted to share her passion for chamber orchestra with regional audiences on Camerata’s annual tour of North Queensland and by delivering school workshops in Toowoomba. She will feature on Camerata’s Channel 9 Lord Mayor’s Christmas Carols event and on their studio recording of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, due for release in late 2023. 

Helena has held principal positions with the UQ Pulse Chamber Orchestra, the UQ Symphony Orchestra and the Curro Chamber Orchestra at the Australian Youth Orchestra’s (AYO) National Music Camp in 2020. She has also been a member of the AYO flagship ensemble over the past two years, with highlights including the 2022 National Tour under the baton of Sir Mark Elder and Ngapa William Cooper with Nigel Westlake, Lior and Dr Lou Bennet. 

Helena performs regularly as a chamber musician and is a founding member of Amiti String Quartet; an ensemble which is increasingly active on the Australian music scene. Since their debut at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s Winterschool in 2021, Amiti has focused on bringing chamber music to regional areas of Australia by sharing their knowledge and performances with regional audiences. In 2023, Amiti participated in the AYO Momentum Ensemble Quartet Residency at the Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium for the annual String Camp. This opportunity enabled Amiti to share their passion for chamber music with students through recitals, Q&A sessions, personal and group tutoring, collaboration throughout the rehearsal process and performing alongside students in a final concert. 

In 2024, Amiti String Quartet will bring chamber music to Goldburn and receive tutoring from the Orava Quartet at the AYO Chamber Players program. Amiti will also record a piece written for the quartet by Brisbane-based composer, Abigail Lui, as a part of ABC Classic’s 2024 composer commissioning fund. The piece is inspired by poetry which highlights aspects of life around the Brisbane River, and the way its residents change as time passes. 


About Research Seminar series

Research seminars are presented by current staff, higher degree by research candidates and visiting academics. 

The seminar series showcases the work of our higher degree by research candidates and provides valuable professional development opportunities for undergraduate and coursework students who are interested in research. Visiting scholars are regularly invited to address staff and students, and the seminars are open to the public. 


St Lucia Campus, St Lucia
Nickson Room