Jo St Leon

Freelance Writer


I am a musician and author from Hobart, Tasmania. I have recently retired from my work as an orchestral musician to focus on writing full-time. I am currently completing my BA in Professional Writing and Publishing, with plans to undertake a Masters degree in creative writing. Those folks at OUA know how to tempt me.

My work includes short stories, feature articles, personal essays and concert reviews. In 2021 I published my first book, The Light in the Darkness: Musings on Living with Cancer. It is a collection of memoir, reflections and personal essays telling of my own experience of living with a potentially terminal illness.

You can find my work in CutCommon, Limelight Magazine, Stringendo, Elephant Journal and The Fictional Cafe. My first short story, ‘Georgina’s Dilemma’, won 3rd prize in a ‘Writers’ Forum short story competition in 2017 and my memoir piece, 'The Diagnosis', won 2nd prize in The Field of Words memoir competition, 2018.

I have recently had some success with public readings of some of my writing, which is particularly effective when sharing a stage with musician(s). I loved doing this, and plan to explore it further.

After a lifetime of touring the world with my viola, I have finally settled in a little house by the Mt Wellington fire trail, where I live in domestic bliss with my two cats and travel
as little as possible. In addition to writing, I love cooking, yoga, reading and swimming.

Contact: [email protected]

CutCommon | the new generation of classical music
LIVE REVIEW // Jo watches Grace Thorpe and Jennifer Marten-Smith in Tassie

BY JO ST LEON Virtuosi Tasmania Grace Thorpe (violin), Jennifer Marten-Smith (piano) Szymanowski, Bach, Kreisler Home Hill Winery, Ranelagh, 28 January The opportunity to review this concert brought me enormous pleasure and some anxiety. Pleasure, because I used to teach Grace Thorpe and was happily intrigued to see how she had developed.

Most recent

Elephant Journal
How I choose to Live with "Lulu"-my Lymphoma.

Lymphoma Australia was at the forefront of the action-informing, challenging and, most importantly, encouraging me to think and reflect about what lymphoma means to me. First, the informing. The statistics are mind-blowing. 19 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. 19 million! 150,000 of those are in Australia.

Elephant Journal
Djokovic Deported: A Sad & Sorry Saga.

"If Djokovic had a sliver of good sense and any respect for his sport, he would accept the consequences and leave the country. Unfortunately, the tennis star is among the famous athletes who'd rather create chaos around them than get their shots." - Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) January 15, 2022 Nevertheless, I'm going to write about him.


CutCommon | the new generation of classical music
Pandemic diary #5: If I really wanted to... | CutCommon

"We read to know we are not alone" - C.S. Lewis Last week, I had various plans for how to use my solitude constructively. I have made a start, but find that I don't like being told what to do, even by myself.

CutCommon | the new generation of classical music
Pandemic diary #3: Journey into solitude | CutCommon

"In a pandemic, self-isolation is called quarantine. In Buddhism, it is called retreat. From the cave of our homes, like the meditators of ancient times, we can consciously kindle the lamp of compassion and connection" - Lama Willa Miller What a difference a label can make.

CutCommon | the new generation of classical music
Pandemic diary #1: After the music stopped | CutCommon

"And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested...and learned new ways of being" - Kitty O'Meara Saturday March 14 - my last concert for the foreseeable future. The ban on large gatherings was just coming into force, so there was no audience, but it was a great concert nonetheless.

Creative Non-Fiction

The Fictional Café
Old Age: Three Vignettes by Jo St Leon - The Fictional Café

I can't find the word. Somewhere, in the swirling mist of my mind, I know it's there. Just out of reach. I chase it but it skips away from me as it laughs. It doesn't want to be caught today. I used to use it, the word, with such ease.


CutCommon | the new generation of classical music
LIVE REVIEW // Jo tunes in to the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall | CutCommon

BY JO ST LEON The Trout Michael Aquilina Chamber Music Festival - Concert 1 Laurence Matheson (piano); Dale Barltrop (violin); Christopher Cartlidge (viola); Rachael Tobin (cello); Stephen Newton (double bass)Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, Athenaeum Theatre, 30 May This concert was the opening event in the Michael Aquilina Chamber Music Festival, and it was a fitting tribute to Aquilina's outstanding philanthropy.

Magnificent Seven ★★★★★

Highlights coming up in online streaming as well as on ABC Classic and the independent radio stations ArtSound, Fine Music Sydney, 3MBS, 4MBS and 5MBS. An uneasy start redeemed by energetic, committed playing. A touching farewell concert celebrating Tasmanian cello star Sue-Ellen Paulsen. A dazzling evening of music making from all involved.

LIVE REVIEW // TSO Live Sessions in Longley

BY JO ST LEON TSO Live Sessions Featuring musicians of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra Longley International Hotel, 3 February I set off for Longley, very aware as I drove that I was heading towards multiple fires and a big smoke cloud. Arriving at the Longley International Hotel, though, I could almost believe that none of that existed.

LIVE REVIEW // Jo sees Jonathan Békés in recital

BY JO ST LEON Jonathan Békés in recital TSO studio, 21 November Jonathan Békés (Jono) is the newest recruit to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's outstanding cello section. He has fitted an enormous amount of music into his 25 years.


CutCommon | the new generation of classical music
Stuart Thomson: "Putting yourself out there is the hardest thing" | CutCommon

One of the highlights of attending a Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra concert for me is watching its principal double bass player Stuart Thomson working his magic. He has an extraordinary relationship with his instrument in which player and bass almost become one, living and breathing the music.

Homage to Tasmanian conductor Marko Letonja

BY JO ST LEON For the past seven years, Marko Letonja has taken the roles of chief conductor and artistic director with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. But it was recently announced that his time with the orchestra, due to finish at the end of this year, will be extended.

Homage to cellist and pedagogue Janis Laurs

BY JO ST LEON Disclaimer: This feature was written under the guidance of Curtain University through Open Universities Australia as part of Jo's studies in Professional Writing and Publishing. It has been edited by CutCommon. Cellist and pedagogue Janis Laurs was farewelled by his colleagues at the Elder Conservatorium this June.