Associate Professor Helene Pohl

AProf Helene Pohl profile picture

Associate Professor, NZ String Quartet School of Music


BMus PerfCert Eastman, MMusIndiana


  • Artist in Residence - New Zealand String Quartet, Classical Performance - Chamber Music
  • Senior Lecturer, Classical Performance (Strings) - Violin


Born in Ithaca, New York to German parents, Helene Pohl spent her childhood on both sides of the Atlantic. She began violin at age 4 with the Suzuki method. A musical omnivore, she began piano study at 9 and as a teenager added viola, clarinet and baritone saxophone (the latter in order to join the jazz band). At 17 she began tertiary study at the Musikhochschule Cologne, where her teacher was Franzjosef Maier, founder of the Collegium Aureum, and her chamber music coaches were the members of the Amadeus Quartet. She continued her studies at the Eastman School of Music where she received a Bachelor's Degree and the coveted Performer's Certificate. Her violin and chamber music teachers were the members of the Cleveland Quartet; she also studied voice with Renee Fleming. She received her Master's Degree at Indiana University where she studied violin with Josef Gingold (student of Eugene Ysaye), viola with Kim Kashkashian, and chamber music with Fritz Magg, Abraham Skernick and Gyorgy Sebok.

With groups formed during her studies she spent many summers at the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival where she received coaching from members of the Cleveland, Emerson, Juilliard and Tokyo Quartets. Other violin teachers whose lessons she found inspirational along the way were James Buswell, Robert Mann and Joyce Robbins. She herself began her teaching career in Boston, MA at the New England Conservatory Preperatory Division and at Walnut Hill School, a boarding school specialising in the performing arts.

As first violinist of the San Francisco based Fidelio String Quartet (1988-1993), Helene Pohl performed in the USA, Germany, England, Italy and South America. The Fidelio Quartet was prizewinner in the 1991 London International String Quartet Competition and quartet in residence at both the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals. She also taught at the San Francisco Extension Division where she prepared students for tertiary auditions as well as working with adult violinists at all levels.

Helene Pohl joined the New Zealand String Quartet as first violinist in February 1994. In 2001 she became Artistic Director, with fellow quartet member Gillian Ansell, of the Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber Music. In 2014 she was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to music.

At the New Zealand School of Music Helene teaches violin and chamber music and aims to share with her students the best of what she has received from her mentors as well as what she has learned from over two decades of teaching. She believes that teaching must develop an awareness of all aspects of playing, including the physical use of the whole body in playing, the ability to problem-solve the whole range of technical issues, using the personal feedback loop of constant performing, seeking the emotional and spiritual expression of music, and applying a deep knowledge of the score to interpretation.


New Zealand String Quartet