Born in London, William Cole was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Duncan McTier and Graham Mitchell, graduating in 2012 with first-class honours. During his time at the Academy, he was also a Leverhulme scholar in his final year. After graduating, he began to work with some of the top symphony orchestras in the UK.
In 2015, Cole was appointed as Principal Double Bass in the Ulster Orchestra, where he also currently serves as a Player representative on the orchestra’s board, and has continued to work as Guest Principal in The Hallé, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Singapore Symphony Orchestra. He has also coached the double bass section of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and was made an Associate at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2018.
Aside from playing in symphony orchestras, Cole is a keen enthusiast for both chamber music, with performances in top venues such as Wigmore Hall, and contemporary music, having had numerous works written for him to premiere.
It is not often one encounters an imagination with the depth and prolificacy of Jacob Collier’s. Born in 1994, the London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is dubbed by many as one of the most innovative musicians of his generation. In 2012, Collier’s self-made YouTube videos achieved legendary status in the music world, attracting the praise of such luminaries as Herbie Hancock, David Crosby, Steve Vai and Quincy Jones, who manages Collier to this day. His debut album, In My Room, crafted entirely in his room at home, went on to win two Grammys. His success has led to musical collaborators and fans including the likes of Coldplay, Ty Dolla $ign, Tori Kelly, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Charlie Puth, Kehlani, Jessie Reyez and Finneas, among others.
In January 2018, Collier began designing and creating a recording project on an unprecedented scale: a quadruple album called Djesse comprising 50 songs divided between four volumes, with each operating within a separate musical universe of sound, style and genre. Scattered across the four volumes are 30-plus collaborators from across every facet of the music world. Djesse Volumes 1 and 2 both have earned him a Grammy each, meaning that Collier has never lost a Grammy in a category he’s been nominated in.
Daniel Cook is Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral and is recognised internationally as a liturgical and concert organist of the highest order. In addition, he is Artistic Director of Mousai Singers and maintains a busy schedule of recitals, concerts and recordings, as well as being in demand as a conductor and teacher.
Prior to this, Cook was Sub-Organist of Westminster Abbey, where he accompanied the Abbey Choir for major services, concerts, tours in Europe and the USA, as well as appearing in their famous series of recordings. Before this, Daniel was Organist and Master of the Choristers of St Davids Cathedral and Artistic Director of the St Davids Cathedral Festival. From 2005 to 2011, Cook was Assistant Director of Music of Salisbury Cathedral, where he was Principal Organist. He has worked widely as a choral conductor and has been Music Director of the Dyfed Choir, The Farrant Singers, St Davids Cathedral Festival Chorus, Durham University Choral Society and the Grange Choral Society and Orchestra.
Cook studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Nicolas Kynaston, James O'Donnell and Patrick Russill. He has twice been a finalist in the St Albans International Organ Competition. As a recitalist, he has played across the UK, Europe and Australia with performances in most of the cathedrals in Britain, plus the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall.
In demand as an ensemble performer, recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Onyx Brass and London Mozart Players. His work as an accompanist has taken him all over the world and he regularly works with many of the distinguished vocal ensembles both as a conductor and organist.
He has made several solo organ recordings for Priory Records and is one of their most recorded organists. Other projects have included a performance of the complete organ works of Oliver Messiaen and CD recordings of the complete organ music of Walter Alcock, Herbert Brewer, George Dyson, Renatus Harris, Charles Villiers Stanford and Herbert Sumsion. A solo DVD, The Grand Organ of Westminster Abbey, was released in 2018.
Simon Crawford-Phillips is a multi-festival director, renowned pianist, creative programmer with a passion for championing contemporary repertoire, and a chamber musician who regularly collaborates with artists such as Daniel Hope and Lawrence Power in repertoire from Haydn and Schumann to Adès, Byström, Dean and Reich. His own ensembles include the Kungsbacka Piano Trio, and Stockholm Syndrome Ensemble (resident artists at Stockholm Konzerthus).
His programming is reflected in an extraordinarily varied career as a conductor/director alongside his solo collaborations. In 2017 he was appointed Artistic Adviser and Chief Conductor of Västerås Sinfonietta, now extended until 2023. He has broadened the Sinfonietta’s reach and repertoire as well as launching the Sinfonietta’s own festival. Of the Sinfonietta’s most recent album, Sydsvenskan writes 'an artistic bullseye by an ensemble that promotes contemporary music but also performs classical repertoire with a twist'. Recent conducting engagements have included the Swedish Radio Symphony, Aalborg Symphony, Polish Chamber, Nash Ensemble and English Chamber orchestras as well as assisting Daniel Harding, Alain Altinoglu and Stanislav Kochanovsky annually at the Verbier Festival.
As a pianist The Guardian says Crawford-Phillips has 'profound sensitivity and technical brilliance, achieving an expressive intensity that made for compelling listening'. He performs in premiere festivals and concert halls across Europe including Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein, Edinburgh, and at Wigmore Hall where in the new season he will appear as the regular pianist with Chamber Ensemble in Residence, the acclaimed Nash Ensemble, and in recital with Daniel Hope and Lawrence Power. Notable concerto debuts include the NHK Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alan Gilbert, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ilan Volkov and more recently the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra directing from the keyboard.
He is the Artistic Director of the Change Music Festival in Norra Halland, Västerås Music Festival and Co-Artistic Director of the Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival. A renowned teacher, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 2010 and currently teaches at the Gothenburg Academy of Music and Drama. Recent guest teaching has included the Schymberg masterclasses in Sweden together with Anne Sofie von Otter and chamber music at Indiana University in Bloomington and the University of Colorado.
Lucy Crowe has established herself as one of the leading lyric sopranos of her generation, performing at The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Oper Frankfurt. In recital, she has appeared at The Royal Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Salzburg Festival and the BBC Proms.
In concert, she has worked with The Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Emmanuelle Haïm, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Charles Mackerras and Richard Egarr; Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Mackerras and Nézet-Séguin; Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras under Sir John Eliot Gardiner; and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Sir Antonio Pappano. Her most recent appearances include Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Nelsons, and The Cunning Little Vixen with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle.
Crowe’s recordings include Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the London Symphony Orchestra under Gardiner for LSO Live; Handel’s Il pastor fido and a Handel and Vivaldi disc with La Nuova Musica under David Bates for Harmonia Mundi; a Witold Lutoslawski disc with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner for Chandos; Handel’s Alceste with Christian Curnyn and Early Opera Company for Chandos; John Eccles’s The Judgement of Paris for Chandos; and a solo Handel disc, ll caro Sassone, with Harry Bicket and The English Concert for Harmonia Mundi.
Upcoming plans include a debut at the Dutch National Opera in the title role of Rodelinda and a return to the Royal Opera House for Agrippina. In concert, she joins the Berliner Philharmoniker and Haïm for Apollo e Dafne, Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras and Gardiner for a worldwide tour in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday year; Orchestre de Paris and Daniel Harding for Elijah; and The English Concert and Bicket in a worldwide tour of Rodelinda.
Colin Currie is as solo and chamber artist at the peak of his powers. Championing new music at the highest level, he is hailed as being "at the summit of percussion performance today" (Gramophone). Currie is the soloist of choice for many of today’s foremost composers and he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.
A dynamic and adventurous soloist, Currie's commitment to commissioning and creating new music was recognised in 2015 by the Royal Philharmonic Society who awarded him the Instrumentalist Award. From his earliest years Currie forged a pioneering path in creating new music for percussion, winning the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award in 2000 and receiving a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2005. Currie has premiered works by composers such as Steve Reich, Elliott Carter, Louis Andriessen, HK Gruber, Mark-Anthony Turnage, James MacMillan, Brett Dean, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Helen Grime, Jennifer Higdon, Kalevi Aho, Rolf Wallin, Kurt Schwertsik, Andrew Norman, Julia Wolfe and Nico Muhly.
Currie's orchestral engagements also include appearances with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, MDR Leipzig, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Swedish Chamber and Scottish Chamber Orchestras, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and Orquesta Filarmónica de Gran Canaria. Currie also collaborates with various chamber partners, including Nicolas Hodges, Antoine Tamestit, the JACK Quartet and his own Colin Currie Quartet, for performances at Vienna Konzerthaus, de Doelen, Wigmore Hall, LSO St Luke’s, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, King's Place and the Southbank Centre.
Currie's dynamic ensemble the Colin Currie Group was formed in 2006 to celebrate the music of Steve Reich and made its five-star debut at the BBC Proms. Since then, with Reich’s personal endorsement Currie and his ensemble have taken on the role of ambassadors of Drumming, which they have performed at many venues and festivals internationally. The Colin Currie Group return to the Southbank Centre in December 2019 for four sold-out performances of Drumming at the Hayward Gallery, where the work received its world premiere nearly 50 years ago.
Currie is Artist in Association at London's Southbank Centre, where he was the focus of a major percussion festival Metal Wood Skin in 2014 and continues to perform there every season.
Huw Daniel studied at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, South Wales, before becoming an organ scholar at Robinson College, Cambridge, where he graduated with first-class honours in music in 2001. He then studied baroque violin at the Royal Academy of Music for two years with Simon Standage. In 2004, Daniel was a member of the European Union Baroque Orchestra (EUBO), the members of which formed Harmony of Nations and went on to play together and record two CDs.
He is a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and was appointed one of their leaders in 2020. He has been the leader of Orquestra Barroca Casa da Música, Porto since 2004, where he frequently plays concertos and occasionally directs the orchestra. He is also a member of the Dunedin Consort and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. As guest-leader he has played and recorded with EUBO, English Concert, Academy of Ancient Music, King’s Consort, The Sixteen and Barokkanerne Oslo. He has recorded two CDs of Purcell trio sonatas with Cecilia Bernardini and The King’s Consort and has also recorded the Bach double violin concerto with Cecilia Bernardini and the Dunedin Consort.
Daniel is an Associate of the Royal College of Organists and in 2014 was elected Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. In 2010 he was selected to take part in Jumpstart Jr Foundation's instrument loan programme and now plays a violin by Jacob Stainer, 1665. He is also a keen viola d'amore player.
Jonathan Davies is one of Britain’s youngest leading bassoonists. He was appointed Principal Bassoon of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016 under Vladimir Jurowski, with whom he also recorded the Mozart Bassoon Concerto in 2017. Prior to joining the LPO, he held the same position with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from the age of 22 alongside regular appearances as guest principal with the UK’s leading orchestras and ensembles.
Since making his London Concerto debut at the Barbican Hall aged 13, further solo highlights have included Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante alongside Maxim Vengerov, Elliot Carter's Retracing for solo bassoon in the Purcell Room and a world premiere by David Fennessey with the London Sinfonietta. In 2017 he recorded Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jurowski alongside the Mozart Bassoon Concerto.
Jonathan studied at the Royal Academy of Music under the tuition of John Orford, Amy Harman and David Chatterton, supported generously by the ABRSM and Sir Elton John Scholarships and graduating with the HRH Princess Alice The Duchess of Gloucester's Prize. Born in 1992, Jonathan began his studies in South Wales with Robert Codd. He is currently Visiting Professor of Bassoon and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
In 2017, Iestyn Davies was awarded an MBE for his services to music. A former Cambridge choral scholar, he went on to study singing at the Royal Academy of Music. An esteemed Handelian, he has astounded audiences globally with his vocal agility in roles such as Orlando, Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare, Ottone in Agrippina and David in Saul. His intelligent and considered interpretations have led to fruitful collaborations with Thomas Adès, George Benjamin and Nico Muhly. Davies recently made his Broadway debut in a revival of his West End theatre project, Farinelli and the King, with Mark Rylance, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination. A celebrated recitalist, with repertoire ranging from John Dowland to Eric Clapton, he has twice been awarded the Gramophone Recital Award and, in 2017, won the Gramophone Baroque Vocal Award.
British-Italian tenor Freddie De Tommaso shot to prominence when he won the First Prize, the Placido Domingo Tenor Prize and the Verdi Prize at the 2018 Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona.
A member of the studio of Bayerische Staatsoper for the 18/19 season, De Tommaso appeared in productions including Norma, La Fanciulla del West, La bohème and the programme’s production of Mavra and Iolanta double bill. Prior to this, he was a member of the Young Singer Academy at the Salzburg Festival for the 2018 season. Following the Viñas competition, De Tommaso was invited to appear in concert at Teatro Real, Madrid and in recital in Vilagarcia, Spain. Other performances included concerts with the Georg Solti Accademia in Tuscany and a gala concert at the Victoria Hall, Geneva. His solo credits also include Mendelssohn Elijah, Puccini Messa di Gloria and Verdi Requiem.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, roles here included Don Jose in La Tragedie de Carmen and Rodolfo in La bohème. De Tommaso was generously supported by the Josephine Baker and Countess of Munster trusts. He is a Joseph Karaviotis scholar, a recipient of a Gregory-Carr scholarship and the Richard Lewis scholarship. He currently studies with Professor Mark Wildman and has worked in masterclasses with Christa Ludwig, Placido Domingo, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Barbara Frittoli, Massimo Giordano, Richard Bonynge and Sir Antonio Pappano.
With an equal focus on contemporary and baroque music, Tabea Debus’s burgeoning career has taken her across Europe, Asia, Colombia and the USA. Highlights include recitals at Wigmore Hall, at the London and York Early Music Festivals, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Baroque at the Edge, Edinburgh International Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and Brecon Baroque Festival. Debus has collaborated with The English Concert, La Serenissima, Dunedin Consort, LSO Soundhub, English Chamber Orchestra and WDR Rundfunkchor, among many others, and has appeared live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and The Early Music Show. In 2019, she released her fourth album, Favourites, a follow-up to the highly acclaimed XXIV Fantasie per il Flauto.
Debus studied at Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts with Professor Michael Schneider and the Royal Academy of Music with Pamela Thorby. She graduated with the Principal’s Prize and continued her association with the Academy as 2016-17 Meaker Fellow. Awards include the 2019 WEMAG Soloists Prize at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and first prize at the 2019 SRP/Moeck International Solo Recorder Competition, 2014 Johann Heinrich Schmelzer Competition and 2011 Hülsta Woodwinds International Competition. A former St John's Smith Square, Handel House and City Music Foundation artist, she was selected by the Young Classical Artists Trust in 2018 and joined the Concert Artist Guild roster for representation in America the following year.
Debus teaches recorder at Wells Cathedral School, has led seminars at the Royal Academy of Music and collaborates with London Music Masters and other organisations for workshops with children around the globe.
Anne Denholm is one of the leading British harpists of her generation and served as Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales from 2015 to 2019. After starting her harp lessons at school in South West Wales, Denholm studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Junior Conservatoire, The Purcell School for Young Musicians, Newnham College Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music. She received her Master’s degree from the Academy with distinction, studying under Karen Vaughan, and graduating as the first-ever harpist to win the historic RAM Club Prize. In 2020, she was elected an Associate of the Academy.
As a soloist and chamber musician, Denholm enjoys giving regular recitals across the UK and further afield. Highlights include performances for the Wales Harp Festival, Royal Northern College of Music Strings Festival and harp festivals in Bangkok and Colombia. Denholm has also performed across the UK and internationally alongside her flute and harp duo partner, Alena Walentin.
New music is a large part of Denholm’s work; she has been recording and premiering new works for solo harp since 2006 and is a founding member of award-winning contemporary experimental quartet The Hermes Experiment. In 2019, they won the Royal Over-Seas League Mixed Ensemble Prize and their debut album of original commissions, Here We Are, will be released by Delphian Records in July 2020. Denholm has also enjoyed working with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Mahogany Opera.
Denholm makes guest appearances with orchestras and choirs across England, most recently working with the BBC Concert Orchestra, English National Opera and Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. She has recorded CDs with The Choir of St John’s College Cambridge, The Temple Church Choir, Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir and The Carice Singers.
A dedicated teacher, Denholm holds positions at Eton College and Dragon School in addition to her private teaching. She also hugely enjoys working as an instrumental tutor for the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain.
Described by critics as ‘the most exciting voice since Joan Sutherland’, Australian born Helena Dix has secured her name on operatic stages all around the world. In competitions, she notably represented Australia in the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and made her USA debut as a finalist in the Seattle International Wagner Opera competition to great critical acclaim. She was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 for her significant contribution to the music profession.
Dix’s operatic appearances include the title role in Feroni’s Cristina, regina di Svezia for Wexford Festival Opera, Oldenburg Staatstheater and Chelsea Opera Group, Elettra in Mozart’s Idomeneo and Odabella in Verdi’s Attila for Staatstheater Nürnberg and Lubeck opera, Flower maiden in Wagner’s Parsifal for English National Opera, Elvira (cover) in Verdi’s Ernani for The Metropolitan Opera, Isabella in Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot for Chelsea Opera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Hanna Glawari in Lehár’s The Merry Widow for Scottish Opera. She has also covered the title role in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos for Garsington Opera. In 2019 she made her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff.
Engagements elsewhere in recent seasons have included covering Sondra Radvanovsky in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux at the San Francisco Opera and a return to the Royal Albert Hall to sing Verdi’s Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Dix’s commercial recording debut of Howells’ Missa Sabrenesis with the BBC Concert orchestra and the Bach choir was released on Hyperion records in May 2020.
Kira Doherty moved to London from Quebec in 2004 to complete her studies at the Royal Academy of Music at postgraduate level. After graduating in 2006, she enjoyed a varied freelance career before accepting the post of Second Horn in the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2013. She has appeared as a guest orchestral player with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, among others. In 2014, Doherty joined the board of the Philharmonia and held the post of chairman for two years before stepping down in 2018 to focus on her part-time studies in history. She has recently completed a Master’s degree at Oxford University, focusing on the social history of unlawful hunting in the 17th century. Doherty also teaches at the Royal College of Music.
Kit Downes is a BBC Jazz Award winning, Mercury Music Award nominated, solo recording artist for ECM Records. He has toured the world playing piano, church organ and harmonium with his own bands ('ENEMY', 'Troyka', 'Elt' and 'Vyamanikal') as well as artists such as Squarepusher, Thomas Strønen, Aidan O'Rourke and Django Bates. He has written commissions for Cheltenham Music Festival, London Contemporary Orchestra, Stavanger Konserthus, ReWire Festival, Scottish Ensemble, Cologne Philharmonie, BBC Radio 3 and the Wellcome Trust, as well as collaborating with film-makers, video game developers and classical composers.
Likened to a ‘miraculous single guitarist blessed with an impossibly wonderful technique and an exceptionally delicate touch’ by The Observer, the Eden Stell Guitar Duo have performed at venues and music festivals around the world, including Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, Turkey, USA, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America and Australia, as well as numerous radio and TV appearances on ITV, BBC, and European and North American networks.
Mark Eden and Chris Stell have performed concertos with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, International Philharmonic and Philharmonic Baden-Baden. In 2019 they were invited to give a special performance of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal in the Stadttheater Aschaffenburg in the presence of Cecilia Rodrigo.
Their international recitals include an appearance at the Guitar Foundation of America Omni Foundation Concert Series in San Francisco and the Alla Grande Festival in Canada. They have also performed at prestigious venues such as the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Stuttgart Liederhalle, The Sage in Gateshead, Uppsala Kongress Hall in Sweden, 92nd Street Y in New York and, in London's Purcell Rooms, Wigmore Hall and Kings Place.
The duo were the first guitarists since Julian Bream to be Editor’s Choice in Gramophone magazine with their ‘landmark recording’ of works by Stephen Dodgson. They have recorded 7 CDs to date, the most recent was released in 2017 featuring the first complete recording on two guitars of Cançons i Danses by Federico Mompou arranged by Mark Eden.
The duo have always championed new commissions and are dedicatees of new works by internationally acclaimed composers including Adam Gorb, Dusan Bogdanovic, Gary Ryan and Johannes Moller. A Concerto for two guitars was written by Stephen Dodgson in the duo’s honour.
They are founder members of the VIDA Guitar Quartet who have rapidly become one of the world’s most celebrated classical guitar ensembles with 4 CDs to date and concerts throughout Europe USA and China.
Timothy End graduated with a first-class honours degree in music from King’s College, London, before entering the Royal Academy of Music and gaining the DipRAM award for an outstanding recital. He held the Shinn Fellowship at the Academy, studying under Julius Drake and Patsy Toh. He is much sought-after as a chamber musician.
A multiple first-prize winner, End was awarded both the Pianist Prize and Jean Meikle Duo Prize with the baritone Jonathan McGovern at the Wigmore Hall Song Competition. Further prizes include the Accompanists’ Prize at the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the Parnell Award for an Accompanist at the ROSL Annual Music Competition, the Gerald Moore Award and the MBF Accompanist Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Competition.
End is the accompanist of the Philharmonia Chorus and the City of London Choir.
He has just recorded the world premiere of Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade's Reginald for the Presteigne Festival. This is a work for narrator and chamber ensemble based on the works of Saki.
In the new year he will be recording a CD on Chandos with the Ferio Saxophone Quartet. The arrangements for the ensemble have been devised by Iain Farrington.
End writes of his time at the Academy:
‘Studying at the Academy and working with excellent and inspiring professors was a most fulfilling period. I had a good relationship with Head of Brass, Jim Watson, and relished working with all the brass instrumentalists. During this time, I was introduced to Dr Timothy Bowers and performed several of his brass sonatas. Another tremendous influence was my piano professor Julius Drake. This led to a study of lieder and inspiration from Richard Stokes. All these experiences helped me with the choral work I became involved with as a practising musician.’
Over the course of his career, John Escreet has earned a reputation as one of the most active and diverse pianist/composers working in jazz and improvised music. His prolific output is reflected over the course of eight wide-ranging and critically acclaimed albums - the most recent being Learn To Live, named by Downbeat Magazine as one of the best releases of 2018.
Bursting onto the scene with his 2008 debut album Consequences, Escreet quickly earned a reputation as one of the most exciting new pianist/composers to have emerged in recent years, with Downbeat magazine proclaiming ‘John Escreet’s recent debut Consequences signals the jumpstart of a new voice in jazz’. Similar praise followed for his 2010 sophomore release Don’t Fight The Inevitable, the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff said ‘... on an ambitious second album, the pianist John Escreet seems to be thinking about where jazz can go next; it’s like a tour of the last 25 years of serious jazz’.
2014 saw the release of Sound, Space and Structures, followed by 2016’s live album The Unknown - both of which feature his working trio paired with the master free-jazz saxophonist and British elder statesman Evan Parker.
Over the years Escreet has worked with virtually everybody on the New York jazz scene in a wide variety of settings, as well as being a constant member of Grammy award winner Antonio Sanchez’s band Migration.
He has received numerous awards and grants, including the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant in 2009, the Jazz Gallery Residency/ Commission in 2012-2013 and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation US Artists International grant in 2014. He is also an active educator and has given clinics and masterclasses at institutions across the globe.
Escreet’s music is often described as eclectic, and is perhaps best summed up by the New York City Jazz record: ‘Escreet is a musical omnivore who embraces aspects of contemporary classical music, Frank Zappa, dance music, electronica and a wide swath of jazz, from bop to avant-garde. What comes out is uniquely personal - some of the most inventive and distinct jazz around today.’
Marcus Farnsworth was awarded first prize in the 2009 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Song Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier Competition. He was a chorister at Southwell Minster and went on to study at Chetham’s School of Music and the University of Manchester. Marcus is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music where he completed his postgraduate studies as a member of Royal Academy Opera.
He has appeared as a principal artist with major opera companies in the UK and abroad. He has performed Guglielmo Cosi fan Tutte, Novice’s Friend Billy Budd and Strephon Iolanthe all for ENO; Lance Corporal Lewis in the world premiere of In Parenthesis by Iain Bell for Welsh National Opera, Sid in Britten Albert Herring in concert with the BBC SO and Ned Keene Peter Grimes at Edinburgh International Festival with Edward Gardner. Other notable roles have included Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream on tour with the Aix en Provence Festival and Bergen National Opera and Eddy in Turnage Greek for Music Theatre Wales and Boston Lyric Opera.
Farnsworth has given recitals at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, La Monnaie, the Oxford Lieder Festival and Leeds Lieder. He has appeared many times at the Wigmore Hall with pianists including James Baillieu, Julius Drake, Graham Johnson and Joseph Middleton. In concert, he has appeared with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in performances of Turnage’s The Silver Tassie, the world premiere of Cheryl Hoad’s Last Man Standing and Hubbard in Doctor Atomic conducted by John Adams. With the London Symphony Orchestra, he had a great success in Candide conducted by Marin Alsop.
A strong supporter of contemporary composers, he has sung works by John Tavener, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher, Peter Maxwell Davies and David Sawer. For the 2017 BBC Proms, Farnsworth performed Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Sian Edwards.
Marcus is Head of Vocal and Choral Studies at Chetham’s School of Music and is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Southwell Music Festival.
Ning Feng is recognised internationally as an artist of great lyricism, innate musicality and stunning virtuosity. The Berlin based, Chinese violinist performs across the globe in recitals and chamber concert with major orchestras and conductors.
Recent engagements have included the Budapest Festival Orchestra with Iván Fischer; tours with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and Jaap van Zweden to Europe, Asia and Australia; a tour to China with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Lawrence Foster. As well as successful debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Xian Zhang; National Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Simone Young. In recital and chamber music he performs regularly with Igor Levit at many of the world’s major festivals and concert venues.
Feng records for Channel Classics in the Netherlands and his new disc Virtuosismo featuring Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 4 was released in September 2019. His earlier recording of Bach’s complete solo works for violin was hailed by Gramophone as “unlike anyone else’s… it’s the illusion of a freewheeling conversation projected from within that held me captive." Further discs include recordings of the Elgar and Finzi violin concertos with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Apasionado with the Orchestra Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias featuring works by Sarasate, Lalo, Ravel and Bizet/Waxman, two releases with the Dragon Quartet featuring string quartets by Schubert, Dvořák, Borodin, Shostakovich and Weinberg and two CDs of violin solo repertoire.
Born in Chengdu, China, Ning Feng studied at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, the Hanns Eisler School of Music in Berlin with Antje Weithaas and the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hu Kun. The recipient of prizes at the Hanover International, Queen Elisabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions, Ning Feng was First Prize winner of the 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand and in 2006 won first prize in the International Paganini Competition.
Brian Ferneyhough is widely recognized as one of today's foremost living composers. Since the mid-1970s, when he first gained widespread international recognition, his music has earned him a reputation as one of the most influential creative personalities and significant musical thinkers on the contemporary scene.
Ferneyhough was born in Coventry, England, in 1943 and received formal musical training at the Birmingham School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 1968 he was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship, which enabled him to continue his studies in Amsterdam with Ton de Leeuw, and the following year obtained a scholarship to study with Klaus Huber at the Basel Conservatoire.
Following Ferneyhough’s move to mainland Europe, his music began to receive much wider recognition. The Gaudeamus Composers’ Competition in the Netherlands awarded Ferneyhough prizes in three successive years (1968–70) for his Sonatas for String Quartet, Epicycle and Missa Brevis respectively. The Italian section of the ISCM at its 1972 competition gave Ferneyhough an honourable mention (second place) for Firecycle Beta and two years later a special prize for Time and Motion Study III which was considered the best work submitted in all categories.
Recent works have included Inconjunctions (2014), Contraccolpi (2016), and a collection of encounters influenced by Christopher Tye, Umbrations (2001-2017), premiered by the Arditti Quartet and Ensemble Modern at Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik.
Associated with the most prestigious teaching institutions and international summer schools for contemporary music, from 1984 to 1996 Ferneyhough was Composition Course Co-ordinator at the biennial Darmstädter Ferienkurse für Neue Musik. In 1984 he was made Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and he has since been named a member of the Berlin Akademie der Künste, the Bayrische Akademie der Schönen Künste and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. Most recently, he was awarded the 2007 Ernst von Siemens Music Prize.
Classical-soul pioneer, composer, producer and pianist Alexis Ffrench is the fastest-growing classical artist in the world. Not only is he the UK’s biggest selling pianist of 2020, he has headlined London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, collaborated with top fashion houses Miyake and Hugo Boss, played Latitude Festival, worked with pop superstar Paloma Faith, composed several major film scores and shares the same management team as Little Mix and Niall Horan.
His music has amassed over 200 million streams and both albums Evolution and Dreamland reached no. 1 in the classical music charts. It doesn’t matter if you prefer Bach, Beethoven, Kendrick Lamar or Chance the Rapper; there’s succour to be found in Ffrench’s universe, whether in the purity and innocence of Story Of You, the lush orchestration of Dreamland, the stunning melody of Bluebird or Walk With Us – a track for which 100% of label net proceeds and artist record royalties support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Evangelical about the power to be gained from music and saddened by the demise of music education in schools, Ffrench has created a series of YouTube video tutorials for aspiring musicians of all abilities. Passionate about ensuring music education is accessible and that young people feel empowered to find their unique voices, he delivers educational programmes on writing and producing music to young people, and has partnered with The Prince’s Trust, MJ Cole, Marvin Humes and other special guests.
Ffrench won a scholarship for gifted children to study at the Royal Academy of Music aged 10 and he was also a student at The Purcell School and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Even before his formal music education, at the age of seven Ffrench was appointed head organist at his local church in Surrey, becoming the UK’s youngest church organist. Growing up in a household full of the music of Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald, he first honed his craft by playing the kitchen table aged four and writing his first pieces at five, his prodigious gifts convincing his parents to buy a second-hand piano.
A tragic turning point came at 23, when Alexis’ best friend, a fellow musician, died in tragic fashion. It led him to reassess his music and he became keenly aware of the importance of good mental health.
Ffrench points to the hip-hop community’s success in getting across its own complex musical messages to the mainstream. He cites the challenging music of Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak as examples of superstars doing it their own way. The mix of Kendrick Lamar and Bartok, Shostakovich and Ariana Grande is present throughout Ffrench’s weekly Sunday show on Scala Radio, a broad church where he highlights the song craft in pop and revels in classical majesty.
Praised by The Times: ‘If a single person epitomises the new push towards making classical music more diverse, eclectic and unstuffy, it’s Alexis Ffrench. As a pianist and composer he creates tonal music that beguiles newcomers with its gentleness and beauty, yet also has enough half-concealed nods to Chopin, Debussy, Satie and other historical figures to keep connoisseurs interested.’
Matthew Fletcher has a varied career as an accompanist and répétiteur. His performances have been broadcast live on BBC radio and television, Sky Arts and Classic FM, and have taken him to major UK venues and festivals, including Wigmore Hall, Snape Maltings, Oxford Lieder, Cheltenham Festival and the BBC Proms. He has collaborated with artists such as Danielle De Niese, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Sir Thomas Allen, Brindley Sherratt, Sally Matthews and Allan Clayton. He has performed as a pianist and harpsichordist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and his competition successes include the accompanist prizes at Das Lied 2019 and the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Fletcher has been on the music staff at Glyndebourne since 2012, and in this capacity, he has worked on a huge variety of repertoire, from Handel and Mozart to Strauss, Janáček and several world premieres. He has also worked as an assistant conductor at the Linbury Theatre (Royal Opera House). He is in demand as a repertoire coach, working with established operatic stars such as Jonas Kauffman and John Tomlinson as well as the Jerwood Young Artists at Glyndebourne and the Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House. He is on the teaching staff at the Royal Academy of Music working with singers and répétiteurs.
He read music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar. He then studied piano accompaniment with Michael Dussek and Pascal Nemirovsky at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2016 he was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Fletcher writes of his time at the Academy:
'My time at the Royal Academy was eye-opening and inspiring. The variety of music-making I undertook was incredibly enriching, and helped develop the versatility that is needed for a career like mine. Memorable projects include song circle recitals at the Wigmore Hall and King's Place, a complete performance of Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch, opera scenes, contemporary chamber music with the Manson Ensemble and Baroque chamber music on the harpsichord. As well as the superb individual tuition I received, the variety of teaching staff that I encountered playing for singing lessons and other instrumental lessons must also count as one of my highlights of being at the Academy. As a collaborative pianist, the thoughts of an experienced singer or instrumentalist on your playing and the repertoire you are studying are invaluable. The Academy was crucial in terms of establishing my career - many of my first steps into the industry came through recommendations and introductions from Academy staff, or from being heard at one of the many concerts the Academy put on in London's top concert venues. The Academy continues to serve as an artistic inspiration for me, through my students!'
Conductor Steven Fox has been called ‘visionary’ by BBC Music Magazine and named ‘a conductor to follow’ by Seen and Heard International. Of a recent performance with The Clarion Choir, The New York Times praised his ‘deft guidance’, commenting: ‘Mr Fox revealed the drama of the score with vivid dynamic shadings … Intonation and pacing were exemplary throughout the performance.’ For his recording Kastalsky: Memory Eternal with The Clarion Choir, he was nominated in the category of Best Choral Performance at the 61st Grammy Awards.
Fox is Artistic Director of New York’s renowned The Clarion Orchestra and The Clarion Choir. Over his tenure, the group has expanded its repertoire from Salamone Rossi to Aaron Copland. He has led the group in highly acclaimed performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, White Light Festival at Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre at Columbia University and Carnegie Hall. He continues to lead them in concert appearances throughout the New York metropolitan area and recently conducted a new production of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte for Opéra de Québec.