West Phil Board

Who We Are

Max Holzner (Chairman)

Max studied violin in Canberra with Josette Esquedin-Morgan and Barbara Jane Gilby. He is an alumnus of the University of Cambridge and the Australian National University and the recipient of many awards, prizes and scholarships, including: the Cambridge Australia Trust Orde Poynton Scholarship (2005-2007), UK Overseas Research Scholarships (2005 & 2006), Basil Bressler Prize (2003 & 2004) and an Australian Postgraduate Award (2004-2005). With the assistance of a Llewellyn Memorial Trust Scholarship (2003), he undertook further performance study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Max has collaborated with many of Australia’s leading performers and together with cellist, David Pereira, recorded music of Australian composers for the Tall Poppies label. He has worked with many professional orchestras in Australia and performed with chamber groups and in festivals across Australia and the UK. He was assistant to the late Christopher Hogwood, Academy of Ancient Music, with whom he collaborated in the preparation of numerous critical editions for Bärenreiter, most notably Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Max is passionate about teaching and standards of music education and access. He has more than 18 years teaching experience, having held positions at Radford College, Canberra, and in the pre-tertiary program at the ANU. He has also tutored undergraduates in music at the ANU and at Churchill College, Cambridge. Max is Chair of the Music Teachers' Association of Australia in NSW. He is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Kristian Winther (Artistic Director)

Kristian Winther studied violin with Josette Esquedin-Morgan and conducting with John Curro, with whom he had made his concerto debut at 15 years of age, performing the violin concerto of Sibelius. Kristian Winther has appeared as soloist with the Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland, Christchurch and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, the Auckland Philharmonia, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, Gruppo Montebello and Orchestra Romantique. He has performed as Guest Concertmaster of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra, and as leader/director of ACO Collective. 

An avid chamber musician, Kristian was formerly violinist in the Tin Alley String Quartet, winning first prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition, which was followed by tours of the USA, Canada and Europe. He has also performed chamber music with Anthony Romaniuk, Daniel de Borah, Anne Sophie von Otter, Angela Hewitt, Anna Goldsworthy, Richard Tognetti, Steven Osborne, Brett and Paul Dean, Hue Blanes and Joe Chindamo. As a founding musician of the Play On series since 2016, Kristian has performed music from the 16th to the 21st centuries in venues such as an underground car park in Collingwood and a nightclub in Berlin. He has performed the world premiere of Olli Mustonen’s Sonata for Violin and Orchestra, as well as the Australian premieres of works by Louis Andriessen, Knussen, Kurtag, Salonen, Rihm, Widmann, Kelly-Marie Murphy, and numerous Australian composers. Kristian also performed in the Australian premiere of John Adam’s concertante work for string quartet and orchestra Absolute Jest with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and the Australian and New Zealand premieres of Brett Dean’s violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing.

John Havas (Treasurer)

John is a CPA and registered tax agent involved in auditing, compilation of financial statements, taxation and management consultancy. He has more than 15 years experience as a QA reviewer with CPA Australia. His previous experience includes more than 20 years experience as the non-executive director of an IT software product company, where he was on the Audit and Risk Management Committees; being a lecturer at tertiary level in taxation law, accounting and financial management; and as a finance manager at a public company. He has previously been on the Board of Courage to Care, a Jewish social services charity and is now a Partner and Mentor at Collective Works, an Indigenous-owned western Sydney accounting and business advisory firm.

YeRi Lee

YeRi Lee is a music educator with experience in both Australian government and non-government sectors. Along with a Masters of Secondary Teaching in music from ACU, she has a strong background in music business with qualifications from Huntington University, USA. YeRi also studied and received performance qualifications in piano and violin in Moscow. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes and is still an active performer.

Christine Munro

Christine Munro studied Violin Performance at ANU, before completing a Graduate Diploma in Education. As an orchestral violinist she has performed with Tasmanian Symphony, Canberra Symphony, Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Theatre Company and Sydney Sinfonia. As a music classroom and instrumental teacher, Christine has taught at a number of schools, going on to manage the education program delivery at Musica Viva for three years. She worked at SBS as a business analyst for two years before joining the Australian Chamber Orchestra as head of learning and engagement.

Frere Byrne

Frere has a background in banking, venture capital, and technology development, most recently leading investments for the Commonwealth Bank’s venture capital fund, x15Ventures. Prior to this, Frere worked in the music industry, having trained as a classical singer. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Melbourne, and is a Trustee of the Sylvia Fisher Fund for young Australian singers.

Elias El Khoury

Elias El Khoury (Louie) is the founder and director of EMK Counsel Co, a law firm located in Parramatta, which specialises in helping people and businesses create opportunities and implement strategies to protect their assets. He is also a director of 'for profit' organisations including a business accelerator and is on the executive committee of Rydalmere Football Club. Elias grew up in Western Sydney where he attended school and university.

Bonita Mersiades

Bonita has had a career in government and the non-profit sectors in strategic policy, budgetary, and communications roles. She is now a writer, managing editor and publisher of a publishing company, founder of the Football Writers' Festival, and Chairman of NBCCC.org.au, a community-based cancer charity. Bonita has qualifications in literature and economics. She also studied piano and singing has qualifications in piano.