Alumni News

Alex Hamilton horn alumnusAlex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton began playing the horn at the age of nine and was taught by Liz Davis. At the age of ten, Alex began to study at Chetham's School of Music and passed the Performance Diploma of the ABRSM and the Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music during his time there.

Alex was a member of the National Youth Orchestra and was a brass finalist in BBC Young Musician of the Year 2010. That same year, Alex began studying at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was awarded a scholarship. He went on to study with Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins, Martin Owen and Katy Woolley.

Whilst studying at the Academy, he performed as guest principal with the Philharmonia and the London Mozart Players. He has also frequently works with the London Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony Orchestra, John Wilson Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Alex was appointed Third Horn of the Opera North in September 2015.

Michael Kidd

Mike KiddSince graduating from the Academy Michael has begun a busy freelance career in London. He has performed with London Brass and London Sinfonietta at the BBC Proms and as the horn soloist in Britten’s third canticle Still Falls the Rain alongside John Mark Ainsley and Roger Vignoles in a concert celebrating the life of Peter Pears. Michael also worked with composer Heinz Holliger towards a performance of his solo horn work Fury-Dream at Kings Place.

In addition Michael has also performed on film scores for composers such as Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestre, and Harry Gregson-Williams, and has performed throughout Europe with Peter Gabriel’s New Blood Orchestra as well as on the BBC television programme Later with Jools Holland. He also toured Britain as part of the band for the Dr Who Live tour.

Michael is looking forward to future engagements with London Winds and the Nash Ensemble. Mike Kidd has been appointed Second Horn of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Prior to joining the CBSO Mike played with many orchestras around the country including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and Opera North.

He was recently awarded an ARAM by the Royal Academy of Music.

Carys Evans

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in July 2015, Carys was offered the horn position on the UK Tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, running until 2017.  

She is also currently on trial with the BBC Philharmonic and has worked with orchestras and ensembles including the Philharmonia, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Nash Ensemble and the London Sinfonietta. As an active session musician, she has appeared on both classical, jazz and film recordings and has also performed as Guest Principal Horn at the Bell’Arte Frankfurt RheinMain Festival, Germany. Carys also appears as a deputy on both the Lion King, West End, and the Sinatra Show at the London Palladium.
As a soloist, she has performed in venues worldwide, giving her debut performance of Strauss’s Horn Concerto No.2 in 2013 under the baton of Elgar Howarth.

Alongside playing, she is regularly involved in outreach work having led workshops across the UK and abroad. Despite her busy schedule, Carys turned her attention to Music Therapy and obtained a placement at the Royal School for the Deaf and Communication Disorders in 2010. Inspired by the students, Carys now hopes to pursue a career as a music therapist alongside her playing.
Carys' instrument was purchased with the help of the Sir John Barbirolli Memorial Foundation, for which she is very thankful.

Nico Gomez

Nico Gomez has recently been appointed Principal Horn with the Symphony Orchestra of Galicia.

Elise Campbell

Elise is a London based graduate of the Royal Academy of Music who has recently been appointed the third horn of Scottish Opera. In addition, Elise is on trial for the Third Horn/ Co-Principal position at Welsh National Opera, the Fifth Horn position at the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Second Horn position at BBC National Orchestra of Wales. She completed a Master of Arts programme with distinction at the Academy, having previously graduated with a First Class Honours Bachelor of Music Degree. Whilst studying, she learnt with a full scholarship under Richard Watkins, Michael Thompson, Martin Owen, Roger Montgomery, and more recently Katy Woolley. Prior to this she was at the Junior Academy, learning with Simon de Souza.

Prior to her appointment with Scottish Opera, she has been freelancing with some of the major London and UK orchestras and ensembles across the past four years. These include the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, Opera North, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the English Sinfonia.

Her engagements with the Sinfonietta have included playing Guest Principal Horn on a tour of Sweden and Denmark; performing the world premiere of a horn trio by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holgreem. She has performed at the BBC Proms with the Sinfonietta, and also Aldeburgh World Orchestra; for which she was playing Principal Horn in the world premiere and commercial recording of Charlotte Bray’s At The Speed of Stillness.

Other commercial and session experience includes playing on the soundtracks for films such as The Hobbit and Les Miserables, and she can be heard in Florence and the Machine’s upcoming album. Elise is also a deputy for Disney’s The Lion King touring musical. She has performed numerous solo recitals and concertos across the country and is a keen chamber musician; other than Total Brass, she has also worked with the Nash Ensemble and London Winds.  She would like to thank the Musician’s Benevolent Fund and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, who helped her financially during her postgraduate year at the Academy.

Sam Jacobs

Sam Jacobs

Samuel Jacobs has recently been appointed Principal Horn of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; a position he will take up in early 2014 after two years as Principal Horn of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Samuel has freelanced as guest Principal Horn with the Philharmonia, Melbourne Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, and had regular work with the London Symphony, Sydney Symphony and BBC Symphony Orchestras. He deputised on The Lion King in the West End and made commercial recordings for the film and pop industries, including the Sting Symphonicities CD recorded at Abbey Road. Personal career highlights include performing with Sting at the Hollywood Bowl, New York Met and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and touring America, Canada and Europe playing Principal Horn with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra on their Star Wars In Concert tour.

His solo experience includes concertos by Haydn, Mozart, Hoffmann, Franz Strauss and Richard Strauss, as well as Schumann’s Konzertstuck on Principal horn. Previous teachers include Richard Kennedy, Beccy Goldberg, Julian Plummer, Martin Owen, Michael Thompson and Richard Watkins; and now Samuel himself teaches horn at the New Zealand School of Music. Outside of music, Sam has been an extra in the hit Bollywood movie Blue and appeared on four television quiz shows, including Countdown.

Kira Doherty

Kira Doherty has been appointed Second Horn with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Kira has previously worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, National Orchestra of Wales, English Chamber Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Opera North, English National Ballet, London Sinfonietta, Endymion Ensemble and Hebrides Ensemble.

Jocelyn Lightfoot

Jocelyn Lightfoot

Jocelyn Lightfoot studied at the Royal Academy of Music where she won the Dennis Brain Prize and Richard Mereweather prize for horn. After spending a season as Solo Horn with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway, she returned to the UK where she now pursues a varied career including chamber performances with London Winds, La Serenissima and her quartet Horns Aloud. Jocelyn is also much in demand as an orchestral player, working with many of the UK’s orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and CBSO.

Lisa Cooper
Lisa Cooper

Lisa Maria Cooper is currently Principal Horn of the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Denmark. The Orchestra recently appeared on BBC4 (25.5.12) as part of a Delius documentary: Composer, Lover, Enigma. After five years as Third Horn with Essener Philharmoniker and nine years working under contract in Germany with Orchestras including Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Principal Horn Nürnberger Symphoniker, and Guest Third Horn Bayerische Staatsoper, Lisa took up her new position in Denmark.

Solo performances in 2012–13 include Britten Serenade with tenor Jeremy Ovenden in Aarhus 7/8 March 2013 and Ludwigshafen, Germany 8/9 April.

James Palmer

James Palmer

James Palmer is currently Principal Horn of the Irish Chamber Orchestra but still lives in London where he freelances in the West End on shows including Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. He performs regularly with the Birmingham Royal Ballet Orchestra and English National Ballet orchestra and has just completed a tour with the Heritage Orchestra supporting the comedian Tim Minchin.

Corinne Bailey

Corinne Bailey

Corinne Bailey is Co-Principal horn of ENO. Corinne had a busy and varied freelance career when she left the Academy, before joining the orchestra of the Birmingham Royal Ballet as Third Horn. She was soon promoted to Principal Horn, a position she held for five years before beginning her current job with ENO.

Estefania Beceiro-Vazquez

Estefania Beceiro-Vazquez has been appointed Third Horn with the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra.

Etienne Cutajar

Etienne Cutajar - Horn AlumniBorn in 1983, Etienne Cutajar is a native of Malta and took up horn aged ten at the local band club and under the tuition of Emanuel Spagnol and Paul Borġ. Etienne was appointed third Horn of the then, the National Orchestra of Malta aged eighteen. He gave up this post two years later in order to pursue a full-time postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music through a full scholarship from the ABRSM. Etienne is nowadays an “Associate of the Royal Academy of Music” and is also a pupil of Fergus McWilliam and Markus Maskuniitty.

For two consecutive years Etienne was a horn player of the European Union Youth Orchestra under the conductorship of Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davies, Vladimir Ashkenazy and a few more. Over the years he has guested as principal horn with some of the finest British orchestras and performing groups as well as internationally with; the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto at Casa da Música. In 2006 Etienne was appointed associate principal horn of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, which position he kept and treasured for a full ten years. In 2016 he returned to his homeland to take up the position of Principal Horn of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a horn soloist Etienne appeared at the Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall, at some of the finest venues in Malta as well as a few more in central Europe. During the Edinburgh International Festival of 2006, Etienne took a solo part in Schumann's Konzertstueck for 4 horns - accompanied by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Later that year he recorded Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 with Trevor Pinnock and his specially formed European Brandenburg Ensemble. Etienne has recently also performed Richard Strauss's second horn concerto with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and 'Orchestre-Atelier Ostinato' of Paris. In 2007 he released his solo album 'Fantasie' on the UK label 'Divine art', which album features the 'Fantasie Sonata for Horn and Piano' dedicated to him by his compatriot and dear friend Charles Camilleri. Etienne is also a founder member of 'Carnyx Brass'.

In his free time Etienne enjoys long country walks, rock climbing, swimming, a warm climate (usually!), hanging around relatives, friends and the local cuisine, which he sometimes cooks. 

Grzegorz Curlya

Grzegorz Curly with the Malaysian Symphony Orchestra.

Grzegorz Curlya has been appointed Principal Horn with the Malaysian Symphony Orchestra.

Anna Drysdale

Ann DrysdaleAnna left the Academy in 2016, after studying with Michael Thompson, Katy Woolley, Martin Owen, Richard Watkins and Roger Montgomery, and winning the 2015 Dennis Brain Horn Prize. She is still based in London, but with a career that takes her all over the UK and Europe. On the modern horn, she is currently on trial with Royal Northern Sinfonia, and has worked with Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Sinfonia Cymru and the Philharmonisches Orchester Giessen, Germany; she has also toured with the European Union Youth Orchestra and Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. She made her British Horn Society solo debut at the 2015 festival, and was furthermore the winner of the 2015 Paxman Prize.

As well as the modern horn, Anna is an active natural and baroque horn player, and has performed with ensembles including Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Dunedin Consort, Florilegium and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists. She has also appeared in Mozart Horn Concertos no.1 and no.4 as a soloist with the Amadè Players. Following the completion of her masters at the Academy, she travels monthly to Amsterdam to study natural horn privately with Teunis van der Zwart, supported by Help Musicians UK and the Countess of Munster Trust.

(Photo credit: Zhanna Bobrakova)