Monique Lapins - Second Violin

Monique Lapins began her violin studies at the age of 6 with the Suzuki method and continued her studies at the Australian National Academy of Music under William Hennessy, and at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music under Professor Qian Zhou.  

As a chamber musician, she has twice been a finalist in the Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition and has participated in chamber music programmes and festivals in France, the Czech Republic, Holland, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia and at the prestigious Open Chamber Music Seminars in Prussia Cove in the UK. 

A former Emerging Artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Monique has toured extensively in collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra Collective, the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed under the baton of Seiji Ozawa in Japan and under Philippe Herreweghe in France.

Monique joined the NZSQ in May 2016, replacing Douglas Beilman who was farewelled at the end of 2015 after 26 years with the New Zealand String Quartet.

Monique plays a 1784 Lorenzo Storioni violin, kindly loaned by Mr David Duncan Craig, as trustee of the Lily Duncan Trust.

10 Questions with Monique Lapins

What led you to take up the violin?

The Stradivarius 1721 ‘Red Mendelssohn’ violin (commonly referred to as the ‘Red Violin’) started my musical journey with the violin. My father was doing some research into the history of that instrument and asked if I would like to play the violin. I was six at the time and had no real idea what this entailed but my curiosity and my father’s enthusiasm made me answer with a firm “yes!” That fortuitous day started my life as a musician and I have never looked back.

Who were your most important teachers and mentors in Australia?

Nicholas Milton was an inspiring teacher who in my early teenage years often related tales about musicians who were lost in their world of creativity and imagination. James Cuddeford helped me grow as a musician, providing me with an opportunity to develop my own individual style. William Hennessy is an outstanding pedagogue who helped me arrive at a deeper understanding and knowledge of solo and chamber music genres. He encouraged and inspired in me a commitment and passion for music and performance.

What age were you when you played your first string quartet?

I started playing string quartets when I formed the Moonlight Quartet at the age of 16, thanks to the encouragement of James Cuddeford. I was most definitely addicted to this form of ensemble as soon as I began. The intimate and communicative nature of playing with four people and the vast array of repertoire sparked a boundless obsession with the string quartet.

What experience did you gain with the Moonlight String Quartet?

The Moonlight Quartet was fortunate to study under members of the Australian String Quartet at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, Australia. It was during this time, in 2007, that I first encountered the New Zealand String Quartet at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music "Winterschool" in Townsville. I was deeply inspired by their sublime performances and still remember the lesson Gillian Ansell gave on Beethoven's String Quartet op.18 no. 2. We played professionally for a number of private and government functions including The Pickard Foundation, APEC, The Rasp Mine Opening and The University of South Australia/Adelaide University.

You managed the ensemble as well as playing 1st violin, didn’t you?

Yes, as manager I secured funding, negotiated music contracts, prepared marketing flyers and media advertising, networked with business, community and government organisations promoting the quartet, and acted as spokesperson for the quartet at media events. It was all useful experience!

How valuable were your studies at the Australian National Academy of Music?

My three years at ANAM allowed me to develop as a classical musician in a highly competitive environment. There were so many wonderful mentors who were generous with their knowledge and time, including my violin teacher William Hennessy (former violinist with the Australian String Quartet), cellist Howard Penny (a long-time member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe) and the academy’s artistic director (and one of Australia’s best-known contemporary composers) Brett Dean.

What took you to Singapore?

I was fortunate to be accepted on a full scholarship into the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore, where I was able to study with the Head of Strings, Professor Qian Zhou. The timing of the opportunity was ideal and studying in Singapore was a culturally enriching experience that also gave me the opportunity to travel on extensive music tours throughout Europe.

Where did you go after that?

Following my studies in Singapore I won a position as a violinist in the Hyogo Performing Arts Centre Orchestra. A highlight of my time there was being selected to perform as soloist alongside maestro Olivier Charlier in Bach's Double Violin Concerto at the "La Folle Journée au Japon" in Tokyo and at HPAC concert hall in Hyogo.

Is that where you met your partner, Naoto Segawa?

No, I met Naoto at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. He’s a marimba player and through our mutual interest in contemporary music, we formed a group called Ensemble Gô to commission and perform new compositions.

What do you do when you’re not rehearsing or performing?

I enjoy spending time with friends at cafés and going for long walks listening to music. I’m looking forward to experiencing the café culture in Wellington and to touring the beautiful countryside throughout New Zealand.

The New Zealand String Quartet gratefully acknowledges its sponsors and funders