BOWLINES – Musician bios

ERNIE GRUNER Bowlines was formed in 2012 by Ernie Gruner who is inspired by theatre and dance improvisers. He formed Bowlines to explore the possibilities for bowed string players to improvise music. He was mentored by his Vienna Conservatorium trained grandmother and studied with lecturers from Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium, while working in science research. He led the Monash String Quartet and Orchestra, then focussed on Irish fiddle and jazz . He’s improvised music for 18 years with Melbourne Playback Theatre Company, and created music for theatre productions at fortyfivedownstairs and La Mama. Ernie is Australia’s leading klezmer violinist following studies in New York, Kracow, Budapest, and Montreal. He’s played jazz and blues, gypsy, middle-eastern and Balkan music with Jugularity, Klezmeritis, Yalla!, Bohemian Nights and Saray Iluminado.  He’s performed with Anne Norman, Adam Simmons, Archie Roach, Ruth Roshan, Shane Howard, Kavisha Mazzella, Dya Singh, Texicali Rose, Patrizio Buanne and more. Ernie appeared twice on TV’s “Spicks and Specks” and has over 75 recording credits. He was profiled in Seth Jordan’s book “World Music: Global Sounds in Australia”.  He formed Bowlines to explore the possibilities for bowed string players to improvise music.

NOELLA YAN   Having lived, studied and performed across 4 continents, Noella is a passionate advocate of new music and interdisciplinary collaborations. She has premiered numerous works by composers and has been a member of Trio Anima Mundi and Ad Hoc Collective since 2015. Recent performances include working with Andree Greenwell at the Arts Centre and Riverside Parramatta. Formerly artistic co-director of a cross-cultural project celebrating Singapore’s 50th, Noella curated a series of cross cultural concerts fusing Eastern and Western instruments across Australasia, including the Parliament House , Canberra. Previous projects include improvisational collaborations with dancers and visual artists in Singapore and the US fostering awareness around social and environmental issues.  Deeply passionate about using music to effect change, Noella founded ARTIF – Art It Forward ( , a non-profit outreach effort that seeks to bring creativity through the arts to underserved communities.

SOPHIE DUNN    Sophie Dunn explores different musical styles, incorporating improvisation to develop her own musical sound. This is reflected in the diverse range of musical projects she is involved with. Devil Goat Family String Band last year won the Brunswick Music Festival People’s Choice award and released the album “Peace, Love and Goats”. The Skulls Band has performed at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and Ballarat White Night. She has played with Mariachi los Romanticos for nearly ten years. The Tango Chamber combines nuevo tango with afro-cuban and flamenco influences, and she plays in Andy Baylor’s Banksias Band. Sophie has performed with several classical ensembles including the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra, Arcko Symphonic Ensemble and the School of Hard Knocks Street Requiem String Quartet.

HELEN MOUNTFORT studied ‘cello and composition at Victoria University Wellington New Zealand. Helen moved to Australia in 1986 and soon after joined the band Not Drowning,Waving. Helen was a founding member of the band My Friend the Chocolate Cake with whom she still records performs, and also a member of gypsy/tango band, Fine Blue Thread & Cosmo Cosmolino. Helen writes music for film, television, dance and theatre and is in demand as a session musician having recorded with many Australian artists including Missy Higgins, Archie Roach, Paul Kelly, Midnight Oil, Renee Geyer, Mark Seymour and the John Butler Trio. In 2018 she released her solo album.

HOPE CSUTOROS studied at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Budapest Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary. Performances and extensive touring overseas includes My Friend the Chocolate Cake, Stilleto Sisters, Circus Oz, State Orchestra of  Victoria, Phantom of the the Opera, David Chesworth Ensemble, Chamber Made Opera, Deflocked String Quartet. Her recording credits include Midnight Oil, Deborah Conway, Mark Seymour and Renee Geyer.

JENNY M.THOMAS has had many musical adventures including rollerskating backwards whilst playing violin for Circus Oz, playing a Norwegian Hardanger solo with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for the Lord of The Rings premiere, a solo concert series in Europe performing Indian classical violin plus a European tour with chamber-pop band ‘Naked Raven’. Her Australian folk song album “Farewell To Old England Forever”  won a Golden Fiddle Award and her compositions have received radio airplay on the ABC, BBC 2, and Deutchland Radio Berlin plus been included in the ABC Classic FM ‘Drive’ album. Her latest venture is leading avant-guarde bush band, Jenny M. Thomas and The System who have recently performed at MonaFoma and been signed to a UK record label. ‘Imagining life without her music and its surprises is too bleak to even think about.…she is like no other violin player on the planet’ fRoots ‘Thomas’ bow weeps emotion…  the finest non-Indian to play Indian accented violin. If I get three musical discoveries of this calibre out of the hundreds of new musical experiences that come my way annually, I count myself blessed.’ Jazzwise UK

HEATHER STEWART comes with impressive music credentials. She is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist dedicated to playing and singing blues, jazz, cajun, folk music and composing music influenced by these traditions. Heather’s classical background performing in orchestras and operas in Australia and the UK converged with her passion for jazz and improvised music. It was this change in focus that lead her to pursue further study in improvisation, vocal performance (VCA) and string pedagogy (Monash). In 2009 Heather completed a Masters of Arts “Incorporating Improvisation in a Primary School String Program” that examined and developed a string program with improvising techniques and repertoire combined with Paul Rolland and Sheila Nelson pedagogy. She currently co-authors and directs the innovative Song Room “Harmony In Strings” program working with refugee and recent migrant children. Heather is dedicated to developing improvising and harmonic knowledge for string players, teachers and students through her performances, teaching and pedagogy writing. Heather has recorded and guested on multiple albums, received “Debut Album”, “Female Artist of the Year” and “Best Self Produced Album” for her album “Get Your Fingers Off It!” and is a member of leading Australian bands Heather Stewart Band, The New Sheiks, The Melbourne Tango Quintet, Andy Baylor’s Banksia Band, and the improvising brilliance of BOWLINES.



                                     GUEST ARTISTS

ANNE NORMAN – Shakuhachi

ADAM SIMMONS – Woodwinds

KAREN BERGER – Hang drum, percussion