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Madeleine Antoine – An Extraordinary Violinist

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

written by Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation

Photo : Madeleine Antoine holding her electric violin (📸 by the wonderful @zoetheiadore)


At a tender age of 4, Madeleine Antoine first brush with music was the piano, a percussionist instrument. She laughed wistfully remembering how she was “fired” as a student from her piano teacher because she just couldn’t sit still on the piano bench. She wriggled and swayed whilst playing a tune. Madeleine says: "I was impatient to play and would interrupt my teacher."

Her mother who yearned for Madeleine, her youngest of six children, to learn ANY musical instrument, finally found an instrument that she could move and dance to – the violin.

As destiny would have it, Madeleine’s mum located Phillip Noer, an American violinist based in Albany. He started teaching Madeleine the Steiner Method for violin when she was six years old. As Madeleine was home-schooled, the lessons took place every week on an hourly basis and by the age of 9 years, she was able to play a Concerto.

Photo : Madeleine Antoine with her first violin teacher, Philip Noer, his wife and her mum in Albany.

Madeleine and Toffee Her mum would encourage Madeleine to busk solo in the local town of Albany to practice her violin from 7 years to 9 years of age.

Madeleine simply states: “My mum knew that was one of the ways that she would get me to practice my violin was to perform in front of people."

When Phillip Noer returned home to America when Madeleine was nine years old, her mum made the decision to move to Perth to pursue Madeleine’s passion, talent and innate musicality.

By now, Madeleine can play by ear and create music to define her emotions and feelings.

When Madeleine lived in Fremantle (Freo), they had a family dog, named Toffee.

Madeleine and Toffee were an adorable duo basking in Freo, performing classical music on strings. As Madeleine explained that it provided a base for good practise and learning how to perform and interact with her audience.

"I would have my little doggie, Toffee tied around my ankle. Toffee has the same hair colour as me. Thinking back, I suppose that was the cute factor, as passer-by would toss a gold coin or two in my violin case.”

I asked: “What did you do with the money you earned when you were 7 years old?” Madeleine responded: “I gave it to my mum so that I could help contribute and pay for the violin lessons.”

From a young age, Madeleine understood the value of saving money and helping out where she could for her family. Her mum helped set up a bank account for her to understand how an enterprise works and the meaning of having her own financial independence. Jacek Slawomirski was her next violin teacher from Poland and he remained her teacher for eight years. He was an influential teacher and made an impact on her teen hood years till she reached university.

Photo : Madeleine Antoine performing with Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (MetSO) with her teacher, Jacek Slawomirski.

She remembered when she saw Philip Noer again in Tasmania, when she was 25 years old. She was still nervous playing a piece in front of him, in hope that the music was perfect!

During her high school years, Madeleine received a music scholarship from Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) and the highlight of her education there was the two week music tour in Europe. To her, it was an experience that was etched in her memory and led her to orchestra music.

In 2011, she went to the Prague Conservatory, at least 50 MLC students travelled there to play music. She was taught by a Professor there for a couple of months.

Madeleine achieved a 98% TEE Score in Music Performance - the highest in the State for Music. In 2012, she was on the Dean’s Honour Roll for achieving a high distinction (95%) for her graduation recital.

Photo of Madeleine Antoine by Rebekah Wilson Photography

Early 20s In her early twenties, Madeleine worked as a violin tutor for 5 years at Methodist Ladies College. She is now teaching at John XXIII College for the past 9 years and she loves her role. Madeleine encourages her students and makes sure that they have a positive experience with music.

During this time Madeleine studied at WAAPA (Bachelor of Music) with Peter Tanfield and then at UWA (Higher Degree Preliminary) with Paul Wright.

In 2018, Madeleine enrolled in Masters of Performance with Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts(WAAPA), studying with international soloist Alexandre Da Costa.

Her love of music reached a greater and deeper level, where she had to rehearse a recital and commission a piece of music. She worked with award-winning Australian composer Rebecca Erin Smith, a Fulbright Scholar to develop her own piece of music.

Photo: Madeleine Antoine performing "Maninyas" Concerto by Ross Edwards with orchestra in recital at WAAPA

Madeleine felt her piece needed to reflect the environment and her inspiration came from Ross Edwards Maninyas Concerto for Violin. The music represented the natural world that needed to be preserved and protected. The sound of insects in the bush, birds fluttering in the trees, just listening to these sounds in nature is pure delight. She performed The Dying Sun with Setsu Masuda, the pianist. The Dying Sun is a work for violin and piano in four movements. A collaboration between Rebecca Erin Smith and landscape photographer Andrew J Clarke in each movement. Photos were projected behind the performance of the difference landscapes - Sugarloaf Rock, the Milky Way, a canola field or in the bloody red backdrop of the setting sun. Each movement is a distillation of an iconic Western Australian image into musical form – titled Blood, Milk, Nectar, Salt.

Underwater photo by Nik Babic, photographer with ballet dancer Gen O'Keeffe and Madeleine Antoine

Photo : Madeleine Antoine is at Brookleigh Estate.

By combining music, environment and study, Selfless Orchestra was created. Selfless is a Post-Rock Orchestra that creates spaces in which hope and despair co-exist to inspire social and environmental justice. Influenced by Post-Rock acts that fuse classical and contemporary styles, founding members Steven Alyian (Injured Ninja, Usurper of Modern Medicine, Doublethink Prism), Ray Grenfell (Last Quokka), Madeleine Antoine and Jerome Turle (The Weapon Is Sound). Selfless challenging conventions of traditional music in immersive shows that break the fourth wall, with their album called ‘Great Barrier,’ a composition designed to educate and empower audiences to become part of a movement to help protect Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Selfless played in the Pines Festival at University of Western Australia, Fairbridge Festival and Nannup Festival. Selfless’ album was launched by Raymond Grenfell, who manages Perth company Stock Records and plays the bass in the band, Babayaga with Madeleine (violin) with Cameron Potts (Drums), Cara Teusner-Gartland (Piano), Nicholas Pratt (Guitar). Babayaga concentrates on classical melodies, heavy rock rhythms and punk sensibilities.

Photo: Launch of Fieldsy

Madeleine is a chameleon with her music, she is portrayed as one of the Goddesses of Mousai (Muses), the source of knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in ancient Greek culture. Madeleine creates her own music to be listened to.

Horse-riding and Ray of Sunshine In 2017, her sister took Madeleine horse-riding at Hamilton Hill, there she bumped into Raymond (Ray) Grenfell. They started chatting, he invited her to join a new music project, however she had to go away to Canada for a six week tour with the L’Orchestra de la Francophonie, an orchestra based in Montreal. When she returned, they formed a partnership and began writing music together in Selfless Orchestra, sparks flew and three years later, both of them are engaged to be married.

Photo: Madeleine Antoine with Selfless Orchestra

Photo : Horse-riding is another passion of Madeleine's Making Her Own Music and Violinist Extraordinaire With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, performances were halted and it gave Madeleine the time to create her own solo album, with Stock Records. She is extremely excited as her music has been pressed on vinyl record. Her pieces of music will be launched shortly.

Eskimo Joe, Stella Donnelly and Madeleine Antoine with Perth Symphony Orchestra in the new WA Museum Boola Bardip. Check out this breathtaking first-time collaboration of ‘From the Sea’ under Otto, the 123-year-old blue whale skeleton. Watch video clip here

Madeleine is a family member of the Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO). PSO was founded in 2011 and is known as the orchestra that breaks the rules. It was launched by Bourby Webster and her company North Street Music. Bourby, a viola player from the United Kingdom, was encouraged by many of WA’s outstanding classical players to start an orchestra.

Photo : Perth Symphony Orchestra celebrating their 10th Year Anniversary playing AMADEUS Live at Crown Theatre.