B i o g r a p h y
Sonja was born in Sydney, Australia and is of Russian/Polish/Austrian heritage. She became entranced by the violin at age 3 after attending a baby prom by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and began studying the Suzuki method with Barbara Hayward. She completed her Bachelor of Music (Performance) with first-class Honours from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, studying with Christopher Kimber and was the recipient of the George & Margaret Henderson Postgraduate Scholarship and University Postgraduate Award. She is currently undertaking the Masters program at the Konservatorium Wien, studying with Professor Florian Zwiauer (1st Konzertmeister, Wiener Symphoniker).
Sonja has been fortunate to work in a variety of genres with artists including composer Chloé Charody, classical/theatre collective Ilythian, Extra Sounds Ensemble (Krakow), Wiener Symphoniker, Concertino Wien, Max Steiner Orchestra Vienna, guest musician with Jazz Orchestra Tirol, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Sinfonia, English Session Orchestra, Sydney Scoring Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Palace Gate Orchestra (concertmaster), Sydney Camerata, film director Jane Campion and composer Mark Bradshaw (soundtrack for ‘Bright Star’), pop/rock band Saving Grace, The Eastern Bloc folk string quartet, experimental band Wicked Miranda, Australian hip-hop group Mind Over Matter, balkan ensemble The Yellow Quinces and musical circus-stunt group Strings on Fire. Coming from a diverse musical background incuding folk and jazz, Sonja has also performed with various groups on guitar, double bass, piano and percussion. She has a special interest in new music, twentieth-century Russian music (particularly that of Sergei Prokofiev) and in the circus arts of fire performance, acrobatics and more recently stilt walking, pole and aerial arts.
Sonja is privileged to be a founding member of Nigel Kennedy’s ‘Orchestra of Life’, touring for projects across UK/Europe and Australia since 2010. She has performed as co-soloist with Mr Kennedy in Double Violin Concertos by J. S. Bach and A. Vivaldi, selections from B. Bartok’s 44 Duos as well as at festivals and concerts with the Nigel Kennedy Jazz Quintet.
Other performance highlights include the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Beijing Musicathlon pre-Olympics cultural festival (representing the Sydney Conservatorium), the Melbourne Fringe Festival, performances with Nigel Kennedy and the Orchestra of Life at Royal Albert Hall, Henley Festival, Latitude Festival and BBC Proms (UK), Berlin Philharmonie (Germany) and with the Nigel Kennedy Band at Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival (Germany), Przystanek Woodstock (Poland), St Prex Classics (Switzerland – mentor to the ‘St Prex Young Artists’) and Porgy & Bess Jazz Club, Vienna.
Sonja has been a prize-winner at the Gisborne International Music Competition, International Space Time Concerto Competition, Balmain Sinfonia Concerto Competition, Kendall National Violin Competition, Marcus Edwards Violin Prize, and Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra Concerto Competition, a finalist in the Musica Viva Chamber Music Awards and Nelson Meers Outstanding Instrumentalist Awards and a finalist in the 2010 and 2015 Symphony Australia ABC Young Performer of the Year awards. She has participated in masterclass lessons with Perry Hart, Jiří Zigmund, Charmian Gadd, Goetz Richter, Simon Fischer and David Takeno.
Since 2007 Sonja has worked closely with Australian composer Chloé Charody on many projects including ‘Ilythian’ contemporary classical/theatre collective, ‘MusiqueArt’ street-press magazine for the Fine Arts and ‘ReachOut’, a touring music education program designed to bring the classical music of today to the youth of Australia, particularly those living in regional and remote areas. They co-founded Charody Productions in 2010. Schebeck has premiered many of Charody’s compositions, including as guest solo violinist with the Dutch National Ballet for the opera-ballet ‘Magdalene’ in 2011 and the premiere of ‘The Phoenix’ caprice for solo violin (excerpt from the Violin & Fire Concerto of the same name) in May 2012 at the Musikverein, Vienna. This work was also presented by the Dutch National ballet as a piece for solo violinist/dancer (choreographed by Remi Wortmeyer) at the New Moves festival, Amsterdam 2016.
Charody and Schebeck have a special interest in creating new art fusing new classical music with circus arts. Their creation ‘The Carnival’ circus-opera (for which Schebeck is co-director, solo violinist, aerial and fire performer) has appeared multiple times in Sydney, at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and on London’s West End in 2011 and the Fliegende Bauten, Hamburg in 2013. Their current project is Charody’s ‘Phoenix’ Concerto for Violin, Fire and Orchestra.
Sonja is currently based between Europe/UK and Australia as a freelance performer whilst creating her own interdisciplinary projects including The Freestyle Orchestra (recipients of the Audience Choice awards in the 2016 Tarisio Trust Young Artist Grants), Spiegel Duo (with pianist Lisa Chou), ‘PyroViolinist’ fireshow and The Harlequin Court Orchestra street performance collective. She appears as violinist/fire artist for Zirkus Pikard (Austria) and for Igudesman & Joo’s ‘The League of X-traordinary Musicians’ with recent performances at the Vienna Konzerthaus New Year’s Eve Gala and the Lucerne Festival. Highlights of 2017/18 season include Ross Edwards’ ‘Maninyas’ Concerto (soloist with Housten Ballet) and performances with The Freestyle Orchestra for the Venice Biennale and ‘Les Jardins Musicaux’ (Switzerland).