Exceptional musicians performing for Home Concert Club. Let us introduce them to you.
Amelia Shakespeare was awarded the McKenna Early Music Prize from the Royal College of Music following her Masters graduation recital in June 2018 and was selected to join the School of Excellence at the Basel Schola Cantorum in September 2018. Specialising in historical wind instruments, she continues to work across Europe with various ensembles including the Academy of Ancient Music, Dunedin Consort, ExCathedra, Quintessential and Les Cornets Noir.
American-born, London-based pianist Anyssa Neumann has been praised for the “clarity, charm, and equipoise” of her performances, which span solo and collaborative repertoire from the Baroque to the 21st century. Recent pre-lockdown highlights include concerts in Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest; a Don Quixote-themed recital project with British bass-baritone Timothy Dickinson; and a tour of California and New Mexico with American soprano Rena Harms. She holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, University of Oxford, and King’s College London, and additionally studied with Fabio Bidini in Berlin and Paul Stewart in Montreal.
Clare Connors is an award winning violinist and composer living in Holloway, London.
She is a musical pioneer, breaking boundaries between different musical genres; making musical collaborations with a diverse range of artists; creating her own unique style.
Over her career she has been privileged to work with a wide range of musicians; from David Byrne to Kraftwerk, Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars, and more recently the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Writing originally for the Balanescu Quartet with whom she played in the 80’s and 90’s, her work includes scores for film, orchestral works and most recently commissions of solo violin pieces, ‘Transparencies’ and 'Peppermints and Guns’. She is currently recording and composing works for Big Band and ‘Lock Down stories’ for string quartet and voice.
Frances M Lynch - Singer and Narrator - and Herbie Clarke - Guitarist and Singer - have been giving music and science performances for and with children and adults since 2015 as part of Minerva Scientifica (Patron: Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music).
We tour the UK working with scientists for example on conservation at Historic Environment Scotland, National Trust and ecology centres; and with physicists, astronomers, surgeons, and bio-medical researchers at Universities, transforming their work to perform at Arts Centres, Schools, Museums and Festivals. We won five star reviews and a special Editor’s award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Our work with the British Society for the History of Science promotes important women in STEMM from history, including Rosalind Franklin who discovered the secrets of the structure of DNA and Viruses. Her centenary celebration with King’s College London is on 25 July 2020.
London based viola player Francesca Gilbert enjoys a varied performance and recording career. She is a member of the Gildas Quartet and regularly performs with ensembles such as the Vindeleia Ensemble, Ensemble 840 and the 12 Ensemble. In addition to this, Francesca is regularly invited to appear at international chamber music festivals such as the Marryat Players Chamber Music Festival, Stamford International Music Festival and the iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates in LA.
Francesca Ter-Berg is a multi-disciplinary artist. Known for her unique cello playing style, she is a specialist in Klezmer music, a songwriter, composer, sonic-artist, ethnographer and improviser.
Francesca’s work explores the paradigm between the past and the present in her live performances and studio work, using sound and musical narrative to immerse and transport listeners into her musical world. Francesca performs with critically acclaimed duo Fran & Flora (‘an album of beguiling beauty’ - Clive Bell, The Wire) and produces film scores and site-specific installation works. As a collaborator and improviser Francesca has toured and recorded internationally with artists including Imogen Heap, Talvin Singh OBE, Sam Lee, Portico Quartet, SteamDown Collective, Riz Ahmed, Ashley Paul, Frank London (Klezmatics) and Cosmo Sheldrake and has performed at Glastonbury Festival, Café Oto, Kings Place, The Royal Festival Hall and WOMAD.
Francesca is a specialist in Klezmer and Roma music, which she has studied for over 10 years with some of the top worlds experts. She regularly teaches workshops in the style and creative music making. She is currently working on her debut EP due for release in 2020.
Gabriella Swallow has emerged as one of the most versatile and exciting cellists of her generation. She studied at Chethams’ School of Music and The Royal College of Music with Jerome Pernoo. She was awarded the coveted Tagore Gold Medal. As a soloist Gabriella went on to make her South Bank debut with the London Sinfonietta in the world premiere of 'About Water' by Mark-Anthony Turnage. Since her Wigmore Hall debut with the soprano Ruby Hughes in 2013 she has performed at all the major UK festivals and has frequently toured America. In 2016 she made her BBC Proms debut with Guy Johnston and his 12 cello ensemble at Cadogan Hall and later performed a double concerto with Johnston and the Manchester Camerata by the composer Colin Riley.
Gemma Kost studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, and Royal College of Music. Within a month of finishing her studies, Gemma was invited to play on a 10-week European with Sting. After this she worked in London for several years, performing with the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras.
In 2014 Gemma moved to the North East, and has since played with Royal Northern Sinfonia, Opera North, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Northern Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She plays with folk band The Unthanks and has had the opportunity to tour Europe and Canada with them.
Gemma Sharples is the driving force behind the Home Concert Club and curates the programmes.
Gemma is a chamber musician and violin teacher who performs around the UK and internationally. In 2018 Gemma was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of her contribution to the music profession.
Since 2019 Gemma has been a member of London Mozart Players, one of the UK’s leading chamber orchestras. She is also second violin in the Gildas Quartet and has performed with them at Wigmore Hall, the Purcell Room and live on BBC Radio 3, as well as touring to China, Australia, South Africa and Europe. Recent highlights include working with Harrison Birtwistle at Dartington International Festival in 2019, performing with Joanna MacGregor and Adrian Brendel for a Wigmore Hall recital in February 2020 and launching their project Surround Sound Sessions to critical acclaim in Graz in December 2019.
Gemma studied music at Christ Church college, Oxford, followed by a masters degree in violin performance at the Royal Academy of Music where she was awarded the first Howard Davies Scholarship. Her teachers were Richard Deakin, Remus Azoitei and Yumi Sasaki. For over 10 years she has been a violin teacher at Junior Academy and she also has a thriving private teaching practice.
Christopher Jones, Violin Gemma Sharples, Violin Francesca Gilbert, VIola Anna Menzies, Cello
"Stunning piece, exquisite playing, beautiful video. We're running out of superlatives!" - The Strad
The Gildas Quartet have performed to critical acclaim at major venues including the Bridgewater Hall, Purcell Room, Wigmore Hall, and on BBC Radio 3. Praised for their 'energy, verve and refreshing approach', their bold and explorative approach to performance has been recognised by the International Franz Schubert and Modern Music Competition, Graz, where they were first prize winners of the Audience Engagement Award in 2018.
Equally passionate about new music and works from the quartet canon, the Gildas have a concert series called 'First Nights, Last Rites' where they commission pieces to be partnered with late well-loved quartets. The first instalment, a new piece by Philip Cashian, was conceived to be performed alongside Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden', receiving its premiere at the St Magnus Festival in Orkney. The quartet has also been privileged to work with composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Colin Matthews on performing their works for quartet. They recently completed a recording of two works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad to be included in a disc for the Champs Hill label. The quartet has given recitals at international festivals such as Two Moors, Oxford Lieder, Kings Lynn, and Cheltenham, and have collaborated with musicians such as the Brodsky Quartet, Nicholas Daniels, Robin Tritschler, Alexander Baillie, and Matthew Barley.
The quartet are City Music Foundation Artists and Associate Ensemble at the Birmingham Conservatoire. They have studied with Oliver Wille, Robin Ireland, and Catherine Manson, and have also benefited from intensive coaching and masterclasses from Alfred Brendel, Paul Cassidy, Gabor Takacs Nagy, and András Keller among others. They have frequently been featured by the Park Lane Group and are grateful for awards and support from the Richard Carne Trust, Tunnell Trust, and the RNCM. The Gildas Quartet were semi-finalists at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition 2018.
Pianist Ivo Neame is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger who has featured in several of European jazz’s most forward-looking groups such as Phronesis and the Marius Neset Quintet. He has performed and recorded with musicians such as David Binney, Kenny Wheeler and Hermeto Pascoal, in addition to appearing with ensembles as diverse as the London Sinfonietta and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band.
Guitarist Ant Law was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he lived until the age of 16. He now lives in London and leads his own group, dubbed “an exciting band to hear live" by John Fordham (chief jazz critic of the Guardian). Ant also plays with Tim Garland and has toured or recorded with many other top names such as Dame Evelyn Glennie, Cory Henry and Thomas Gould.
Jack McNeill is a clarinettist, composer and cross-discipline musician interested in exploring the points where different traditions and sound worlds meet. He directs Propellor, a 12-piece ensemble developed at Snape Maltings and writes music using live electronics, field recording and (lots of) clarinets!
His work is full of variety - on-stage musician/actor (Danserye/When I Die), improvising at the RSC, recording for Gecko Theatre, Cerys Matthews and Emulsion Sinfonietta, premiering works by Philip Glass, Richard Ayres, Karin Rehnqvist, Michael Finnissy, Joe Cutler, Ed Bennett and Howard Skempton among others, orchestral and chamber work with the LSO, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Ensemble 360, Sacconi and Gildas Quartets. A member of Decibel, Joe Acheson’s Hidden Orchestra and the clarinettist for Tao of Glass (Philip Glass/Improbable), premiered at Manchester International Festival 2019, touring in 2021.
Throughout the year British/Danish violist Jenny Lewisohn performs with a rich variety of distinguished artists which has taken her across Europe, South America and Asia. She regularly attends IMS and OCM Prussia Cove and was invited to join the OCM annual tour culminating at Wigmore Hall. Keen to share her love of chamber music, she is co-founder of the Marryat Players Chamber Music Festival which takes place in Wimbledon each June as well as artistic co-director of the Jigsaw Players Concert Series who bring world-class classical, jazz and educational projects to South West London.
Tying in with her fundamental belief that quality music education should be accessible to all, Jenny has been involved in Nicola Benedetti's nation-wide Benedetti Sessions - a weekend of transformative orchestra-based workshops for children. Jenny performs regularly around the UK and abroad with the Aurora and London Symphony Orchestras, and as a member of the award-winning Lipatti Piano Quartet. A movement of a work for solo viola by Raymond Yiu has been dedicated to Jenny as well as a viola concerto by Eloise Gynn.
John Reid is a graduate of Cambridge University and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. He enjoys a wide-ranging career as a soloist, chamber musician, song accompanist and teacher. In 2017 he made his concerto debut in Germany and he has continued his collaboration with Aurora Orchestra in London, both as principal pianist and as a soloist in the complete cycle of Mozart piano concertos at Kings Place. He also plays regularly with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
A parallel interest in cross-arts collaboration has led to concerts with Poet in the City, the writer John Hegley, the flamenco dance group Dot Dot Dot and the artist William Lindley.
John Turville has developed a reputation as ‘one of the leading jazz pianists of his generation’ (Ian Mann). After studies at Caius College, Cambridge (where he was a choral scholar) and the Guildhall, he quickly established himself as a performer on the European jazz scene. John has recorded three albums as a leader, which have won multiple awards including ‘Best Album’ in the Parliamentary Awards and the PRS Promoter’s Choice Award, and has recorded as a sideman on over 30 albums to date.
John is an experienced composer, recently receiving commissions from the tango dancer Richard Manuel, and has rearranged classical works for jazz ensemble, including Schumann’s Liederkreis at the RBC, and the Debussy Preludes for Jazz Ensemble and multiple pianos at Uppingham School. He is also a passionate educator, being the principal jazz piano tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Holloway, the Purcell and Yehudi Menuhin Schools.
Joseph Havlat was born in Hobart, Australia, and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London under Prof. Joanna MacGregor from 2012 -18.
He is currently a Young Artist at St. John’s Smith Square, and in 2019 was made Young Artist of the Oxford Lieder Festival alongside fellow Australian mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean, and was the winner of the keyboard section of the ROSL music competition.
Aside from work as a soloist he is also a keen chamber musician, performing frequently with his clarinet trio, the Tritium trio, and also the LSO percussion ensemble.
Passionate about contemporary music, he is a founding member and artistic director of contemporary music collective Ensemble x.y and is also an avid composer.
Judith and Susie met in the London Mozart Players, where Judith plays principal viola and Susie is co-leader. Living only ten minutes’ walk from each other, they have ‘bubbled-up’ and have been enjoying playing chamber music during the pandemic, forming their ensemble Ostara Chamber Players to bring live concerts to the N4 community
As well as her work with LMP Judith has, since 2013, been one of the Principal violas in the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Her busy career also includes being Solo viola in John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, which performs repertoire of nineteenth and early twentieth centuries on period instruments.
Susie was a string finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. She also plays regularly with the Academy of Ancient Music and Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and she was a member of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (2010-15). Her lockdown hobby has been singing and playing the ukelele!
Kay Stephen is a violist and violinist from Aberdeen and spends most of her time playing chamber music.
She is a member of the Jacquin Trio (clarinet, viola/violin & piano) with whom she won the ROSL Chamber Music Competition in 2017 and of thirteen-piece cross-genre ensemble, Propellor. She has also enjoyed appearances as guest violist with the Elias and Navarra Quartets and as guest leader of the Aurea and Florian quartets. For nearly a decade Kay was violist with the award winning Gildas Quartet.
Kay has been a guest principal player with ensembles such as the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Concerto performances include a number of appearances with the Manchester Camerata.
Last year, she was invited to lead the chamber music strand of the Aldeburgh Young Musicians programme, which involved devising and leading residential courses for young players at Snape Maltings, and more recently coordinating a month long online project during lockdown.
Letty is a professional French horn player based in north London. Since graduating from Oxford University and the Guildhall School of Music, she has worked with orchestras including the RPO, BBC Concert Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and English National Ballet and on theatre shows including Amadeus and Macbeth at the National Theatre, Julius Caesar at the RSC and the Lion King.
Letty is a passionate educator and has worked with children and young people throughout her career. She is currently Head of Brass at Highgate School and also teaches French horn at Trinity Laban College of Music. Letty also tutors for the National Children’s Orchestra and has worked with children of all ages on education and outreach projects, ranging from songwriting with refugee mothers and their babies, to cross-arts workshops with visual artists and even concerts involving voyages into outer space...
Praised by The Guardian for her “irrepressible sense of drama and unmissable, urgent musicality”, Australian mezzo-soprano Lotte Betts-Dean’s wide ranging repertoire encompasses contemporary music, art song, chamber music, opera and early music. Performance highlights include recitals at Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Barbican Centre’s Sound Unbound, Buxton Festival and appearances with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Collective and Australian Chamber Orchestra. Currently Associate Artist with Southbank Sinfonia, Lotte won the 2019 Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform and the 2020 ROSL Audrey Strange Singers Award, and is an Artist with Musicians Company and City Music Foundation. She is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music (MA) and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, ABC Classic, Kulturradio Deutschland and WQXR NY.
Lucinda Cox studied Music at Oxford before completing her Masters at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland. Early this year, Lucy performed songs by Ailsa Dixon at St George’s Bristol with the Villiers Quartet, and appeared as a soloist with the Monteverdi String Band at LSO St Luke’s. She is a 2019-20 Brighton Early Music Festival Young Artist, a member of the Marian Consort and ORA Singers, and has performed internationally with ensembles including the Sixteen, the Berlin Rundfunkchor, and the Gabrieli Consort. Lucy has been involved in several online projects during the pandemic, including making learning material for the Self-Isolation Choir and performing in the Marian Consort's digital season.
Lucy began working with pianist Tom Jesty during their time at Oxford. They are finalists in the 2020 John Kerr Award for English Song - which has been rescheduled for January.
Tom Jesty is an accompanist and piano teacher. He has recently accompanied for the Bournemouth Singing Festival, the Cratoule Summer Singing School and for a number of Wessex Solo Singers’ Courses. He also accompanies for three children’s choirs through the Hampshire Music Service, and acts as rehearsal pianist for the Twyford Singers.
Tom studied Music at St Peter’s College, Oxford University. While there, he accompanied many varied vocal programmes in chamber music instrumentalists. He teaches piano at Prince’s Mead and Twyford schools.
Madeleine Mitchell, described by The Times as 'one of the UK's liveliest musical forces (and) foremost violinists’, has performed in 50 countries in a wide repertoire. Engagements include the BBC Proms, ABC, Bayerisher Rundfunk and Italian TV, Lincoln Center New York, Wigmore and South Bank Centre London, Vienna, Moscow, Singapore, Seoul Centre for the Arts and Sydney Opera House, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Philharmonic, Polish Radio Symphony and St Petersburg Philharmonic. Mitchell’s acclaimed discography, nominated for Grammy and BBC Music Awards, includes works written for her by well-known composers and several albums of early 20C British music, including Violin Songs (salon pieces by Elgar, Bridge, Massenet etc) and Grace Williams Chamber Music with her London Chamber Ensemble. Madeleine directs her Century of Music by British Women (1921-2021) concert on 8.3.21, International Women's Day at 8pm from St John's Smith Square: including the premiere of a new violin piece by Errollyn Wallen. She devised the eclectic international Red Violin festival in Cardiff under Lord Menuhin’s patronage. Madeleine has performed for many years with the outstanding pianist Nigel Clayton in a wide range of repertoire including the album Violin Muse - premiere recordings of contemporary works by British composers. Their latest live-stream recital includes violin sonatas by Elgar, Ravel and Strauss: Nigel is also a professor at the Royal College of Music.
Mihai Ritivoiu is a prize-winning Romanian pianist based in London. He has performed throughout Europe and Japan, at venues such as the Barbican Centre, Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Berlin, Studio Ernest Ansermet Geneva and the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest, and had the privilege of playing as a soloist with the English Chamber Orchestra, Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and MDR Leipzig. His debut CD “Transcendence” with works by Franck, Liszt and Enescu has been praised as “beautifully recorded, handsomely played - a solo recital to cherish” (The Arts Desk). Mihai became a City Music Foundation Artist in 2016.
Born in Manchester, Natalia Senior-Brown began playing the violin at primary school before attending Chetham’s School of Music for nine years where she studied the violin and piano, before switching to the viola in her fifth year. There, she played in Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra until her final year, in which she also led the viola section. She achieved her ABRSM Performance Diploma in 2014 with a distinction and in her final year of high school was also part of the National Youth Orchestra.
She has recently completed her Masters degree with Susie Meszaros at the RNCM, where she also completed her Bachelors degree. During her studies there she has been so fortunate as to complete her orchestral work experience with the BBC Philharmonic and win first prize in the RNCM Viola Prize competition.
Natalia is an avid orchestral and chamber music player. She has performed with orchestras such as the Chineke! Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and the Ignition Orchestra in renowned venues such at The Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall, and has travelled across the world as far as China and the US as part of her career so far.
Nick Ireson enjoys a busy career as a performer, working with a variety of orchestras and ensembles across the UK and abroad. He is often to be found under the stage playing for various ballet companies and occasionally ventures above ground onto the concert platform or into a recording studio too. He also teaches the horn and examines for ABRSM.
Born and raised in St Albans, Nick has been a professional horn player for 11 years, having graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2009, after reading music at Christ Church, Oxford. Away from playing, he enjoys sports documentaries and walking his dog, preferably to the pub.
Olivia is a professional harpist who normally freelances with the UK’s major orchestra such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Sinfonia Cymru, Ballet Rambert, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and The Hallé. She also performs at high-profile events such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships for guests of the Royal Box (2013-19). In 2017, Olivia’s harp-writing resource 15 second harp was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. She was programmed to perform in three concerts in Wigmore Hall’s 19/20 season, including Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with Tenebrae and Britten’s Canticle V with tenor Allan Clayton (the latter of which was sadly cancelled due to COVID-19). Since lockdown began Olivia has started a series of concerts called “Harpy Hour” playing audience requests via Zoom, which now streams twice weekly: for UK audiences and for Asia-Pacific.
Rosanna is an award-winning multi-flautist and performer specialising in contemporary classical, improvisation, folk and world music. Described as ‘outstanding’ by the Telegraph and ‘super-charged’ by the Guardian, Rosanna’s performances exude class, personality and virtuosity. She performs as a soloist and with ensembles across the globe. She worked in the West End as a Musical Director on Emilia, performs as an actor-musician in immersive opera (Royal Opera House / ENO / Silent Opera) and works in Germany on cabaret and puppet shows as a musical director, performer and composer.
Rosanna also trained with Spitalfields Music as a workshop leader and continues to work across the UK and Europe creating music with vulnerable groups.
Based in London, Sarah is a freelance violinist who performs with ensembles and orchestras of different backgrounds, from Baroque to Electronic Dance music.
Coming from a musical family, Sarah picked up the violin at the age of 10, and not long after started winning prizes, such as the Harry Gooch Trophy from the Wharfedale Festival of Performing Arts, and the Awards for Young Musicians Edith Hemingway Memorial Award (2010), for the best young musician living in the North West of England.
With exceptional guidance from her professor Gabrielle Lester, Sarah completed her Bachelor of Honours Degree at RCM, and successfully embarked on her Masters Degree in the Netherlands (Rotterdam) at Codarts University for the Arts. She was under the tutelage of world-renowned violinist, Gordan Nikolic along with Goran Gribajcevic. Her studies in Rotterdam have included playing with Rotterdam Sinfonia, De DoelenEnsemble and Nescio Ensemble. A founding member of the Chineke! Orchestra, Sarah was a part of the Chineke! European Tour (November 2019 and February 2020 in Germany), and has also loved mentoring the Chineke! Juniors with their performances for Britain’s Got Talent.
Sarah has kept her connections with the Netherlands as a regular player of the Rotterdam Chamber Music Society and Rotterdam Sinfonia concerts.
Her recent collaborations have been with Chineke! Orchestra (Behind Closed Doors concerts), Decus Ensemble, Brixton Chamber Orchestra, Festival Voices, singer Tom Hickox and pop star Ellie Goulding at the V & A (August 2020).
Sebastian Comberti was born in London and studied in Italy with Amedeo Baldovino and later with Derek Simpson and Sidney Griller at the Royal Academy of Music. He was a founder member of the Bochmann Quartet until 1983 when he became principal cello with the London Mozart Players, a position he continues to hold.
A keen interest in historically informed performance has resulted in participation with a great many of London’s period instrument groups, appearing as principal cello and soloist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Hanover Band.
As a member of several chamber groups, including Trio Goya and Divertimenti Ensemble he has recorded for CRD, EMI, Harmonia Mundi, Hyperion, Meridian, Phoenix and RCA and CPO.
In April 2001 Sebastian founded the Cd label Cello Classics, devoted to recordings of rare repertoire and historical recordings, himself releasing several CDs of sonatas by Boccherini, Stephen Paxton, early 19th Century works with fortepiano, and concertos by Haydn and Zumsteeg with the OAE.
Simon Blendis is the leader of the London Mozart Players, and was previously the violinist with the Schubert Ensemble for 23 years, from 1995 until the group ended in 2018. He has also shared the position of first concertmaster with Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa in Japan from 1999, and has appeared as guest leader or director with most of the major symphony and chamber orchestras in the UK. Since 2019 he has been a professor of violin at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Saoko Blendis grew up in Tokyo and moved to London in 1999 to pursue post-graduate studies in piano accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music. She now mostly accompanies with an emphasis on violin and piano repertoire, and enjoys a number of duo partnerships, including with her husband, Simon.
Sophie Westbrooke is a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Kent. At the age of 15, she won the woodwind category and reached the concerto final of BBC Young Musician. Since then, Sophie has given concertos with BBC orchestras, performed recitals across Europe, and appeared on BBC Radio 3 both as a soloist and alongside London-based consort Parandrus. She can currently be heard performing the title music on the BBC TV series "The Clangers".
Sophie graduated from the University of Cambridge with a double first in music in 2020, and currently teaches in Herefordshire. She is due to take up a Herchel Smith scholarship to Harvard University in 2021.
The Willshire Duo Philippa Harrison and James Willshire
The Willshire Duo is comprised of husband and wife team Philippa Harrison and James Willshire. The internationally acclaimed Duo performs a wide variety of repertoire on one or two pianos, from Saint-Saëns Carnival of the Animals and Britten’s works for two pianos to new commissions such as Duelogue by Rory Boyle. In addition to their performance work Philippa and James are keen educationalists, giving masterclasses and promoting music in schools.
In 2015 the Duo were invited to attend a winter residency at the Banff Centre where they premiered their new commission Duelogue by Rory Boyle. Past concerts include return visits to the Fairfield Halls, recitals at the Bridgewater Hall, the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival and at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, and educational concerts with the Lilliput, Concertini and Tiny Tunes concert series.
Alice Barron – violin Rich Phillips – cello Will Roberts – percussion George Sleightholme – bass clarinet
“Absolutely beautiful” Cerys Matthews, BBC 6 Music
“Melding their classical roots with dynamic traditional and improvised music” Hannah Peel, BBC Radio 3
Boundary bending iyatraQuartet create original and virtuosic music; fusing their classical roots with innovation, intense energy and groove; exploring the capabilities of their instruments with a heady mix of world sounds and extended techniques.
Their debut album, This World Alone (5* Album Choice fRoots, 4* Songlines), was praised by violinist Nigel Kennedy as ‘beautiful … full of space and truth’. In 2019, iyatraQuartet were recipients of the inaugural Kennedy-Kolodziejski Award. Their 2020 album, Break the Dawn, celebrates the theme of transformation and was recorded live in single takes in London’s Union Chapel.
‘iyatra’ derives from the Hindi word for travel or pilgrimage and the group embraces this sense of journey in their music. At times drawing inspiration from Karnatic music and plainchant, with Cuban rhythms, English folk and Arabic music all thrown into the mix - there is a surprise around every corner.
iyatraQuartet is supported by PRS Foundation’s Open Fund Award.