Meet the Musician : Paul Stender

Meet the Musician : Paul Stender

Having returned from Vienna in 2009, Paul has been working with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony, having toured internationally with both orchestras. He has appeared as Guest Principal Cello with ACO Collective and played Principal and Associate Principal with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra.

As a chamber musician Paul has been fortunate enough to collaborate with numerous esteemed artists including Andrew Haveron, Andreas Ottensammer, Natalie Chee and Suzie Park and is currently cellist with the Omega Ensemble, appearing on their debut recording Mozart. Munro. Palmer in 2015.

During his time in Austria, Paul studied cello at the Universität für Musik Wien with Vienna Philhamonic principal cellist Wolfgang Herzer, whilst touring and performing throughout Europe as a freelance cellist.

Prior to his move overseas, Paul completed a Bachelor of Music with David Pereira at the Canberra School of Music. 

When did you first start playing the cello and what drew you to it?

I started cello aged about 10, having initially learnt violin, then piano. We had a cellist friend of the family staying with us who evidently left an impression on me so I asked to learn. I think I took to it quite quickly and it was a natural fit for me.

What do you love most about performing chamber music?

Apart from the incredible repertoire, the thing I love about chamber music is the collaboration with others. Every combination is different and each performance unique. The small scale also allows for greater self expression and performing with friends is always a pleasure.

How would you describe the cello’s role in chamber music and what do you view your musical role in this setting?

The cello plays multiple roles, from the harmonic foundation of a bass line to the most lyrical solo lines and everything in between.

What have been some of your most memorable musical experiences and why?

Performing in concert halls like Carnegie Hall in New York, Vienna’s Musikverein and Suntory Hall in Tokyo are special moments. Also hearing Rostropovich, the Vienna Philharmonic or the Alban Berg Quartet live are among my musical highlights. Playing great repertoire leaves a lasting impression as well, whether chamber, orchestral or solo.


What do you enjoy most about working with Omega Ensemble and what are you most looking forward to in this concert?

Omega Ensemble combines the opportunity to play great repertoire in fantastic venues with good friends and some inspiring guest artists. This concert we welcome back Alexandra Osborne who is not only a brilliant violinist but also a good friend I first met on tour in America a few years ago. I’m looking forward to playing with Alex again.


In this program you are featured in the Borodin String Quartet and the Brahms Clarinet Quintet. As a cellist and chamber musician, what is the main difference between playing in a string quartet vs a clarinet quintet and what is the appeal of both of these?

Having played Borodin’s famous 2nd string quartet many times, this will be my first time performing his 1st quartet. Borodin having been a cellist, we always get plenty of lush cello parts, usually in interplay with the violin. In the Brahms, the clarinet is the featured instrument and the contrast between strings and wind creates a very different sound world. I’m looking forward to revisiting this masterpiece.

Brahms is a popular composer amongst musicians and audiences alike. Why do you think he has such appeal and why do people love both playing and listening to his music? 

There is a certain humanity to Brahms’ music which is a reflection of the composer’s character of warmth and humility. I love his orchestration and distinctive harmonic and rhythmic language. The melodic writing is sometimes deceptively simple, but his development of that material is so rich and satisfying. He’s one of the great genius composers.

See Paul in our next concert A Brahms Affair at City Recital Hall on 7 September.