Catherine Leech – Violin
Catherine was born in Buckinghamshire and began learning the violin at the age of four. She studied Music and French at the University of Sheffield and then as a post-graduate violinist at the Royal College of Music. She graduated with Distinction in 1997 and went on to further study at Birmingham Conservatoire where she was awarded The Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Silver Medal. Catherine performs nationally and internationally as a chamber musician, soloist and orchestral player working with groups such as Chroma, The Le Page Ensemble, The Adderbury Ensemble, The English Mozart Ensemble, Orchestra of the Swan and The Harborough Collective. In 2004 she formed The Le Page Duo with husband and violinist David Le Page. They perform together regularly and are currently recording much of the repertoire for two violins including works by Vivaldi, Bartok, Prokofiev and Rawsthorne. Concerto performances include double concertos by J.S. Bach, Malcolm Arnold, and the world premieres of Paul Patterson’s ‘Allusions’, and ‘Residuum’ by Tansy Davies. In 2009 they performed the UK premiere of John McCabe ‘Les Martinets Noirs’ in Hereford Cathedral at The Three Choirs Festival. Catherine lives in Market Harborough with David and their two young children.
Elizabeth Hodson – Violin
In addition to her extensive modern, and baroque, orchestral work, Elizabeth was the solo violinist on the Naxos recording of Arvo Part’s Passio for solo Violin, Oboe, Bassoon, Cello and Voices, which selected by Gramaphone Magazine as their Editor’s CD Choice in 2003.
Elizabeth has played with Orchestra of the Swan since its inception. She also freelances with many other leading orchestras includes the CBSO, ViVA, the Oxford Philomusica and Ex Cathedra. She is also plays the baroque violin and has played with a number of period ensembles including Orchestra of the Baroque and the Welsh Baroque Orchestra.
As a student, Elizabeth was invited to take part in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra training scheme (1st Violin) and she also played with the Oxford University Orchestra (leader) and Opera Club (leader), Dartington Baroque Orchestra, Britten-Pears Baroque Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Student Baroque Orchestra, Jaune Orchestra Atlantique (Director, Philippe Herreweghe), and the National Children’s Orchestra.
As a soloist Elizabeth has performed Ravel’s Tzigane with the Oxford Chamber Orchestra and also several of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas as part of a concert series at Queens College Chapel, Oxford.
Elizabeth teaches violin at Rye St. Antony School, Oxford.
Elizabeth is married to Mark Chivers (No 3 Viola with OOTS) and they have two sons – Joshua and Benjamin.
Rebekah Allan – Violin
Rebekah completed her Bachelor of Music at Trinity College of Music where she won various solo, duo and string quartet prizes including the 2000 Silver Prize for Strings and a scholarship to continue her violin studies with the eminent Vera Beths in The Royal Conservatory, Den Haag.
During her two years in Amsterdam she regularly performed with a baroque orchestra and toured Belgium and Holland with ‘European Summer Opera’.
Currently, Rebekah freelances with various orchestras and dance groups, including Orchestra of the Swan, Rambert, English Touring Opera, Clod Ensemble and the Heritage Orchestra. She regularly guest leads the Chameleon Arts Orchestra.
She has toured to Hong Kong, Paris and Berlin with the critically acclaimed Hofesh Shechter dance company band and was also involved in the original creation of their music.
Rebekah has always loved chamber music. She toured Brazil with a guitar sextet playing an eclectic mix of Brazilian and British music.
Recent sessions have been for Emile Sandé, Rebecca Ferguson, and Marina and the Diamonds amongst others.
Her concerto performances have included the Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante and the Brahms, Beethoven and Mendelssohn Violin Concertos.
Caroline Mitchell – Violin
Born into a musical family, Caroline learnt several instruments during her childhood. The violin was always her favourite to the extent that she would insist on taking it on holiday!
Caroline went to Chetham’s School of Music at 16 then gravitated along with her friends to the Royal Northern College of Music for her Bachelor’s. In search of new pastures, she left England and chose to go to Boston, U.S.A. for her masters’ in violin, staying on for a year or so to play Principal 2nd in several freelance orchestras in the state.
Caroline enjoys performing around the world and has been touring with orchestras since the age of 7. Orchestra of the Swan continues to take great repertoire to new places and she has enjoyed the recent tours to New York, Istanbul and Mexico.
Away from music she is very fortunate to have a lovely husband and two gorgeous boys, and together they enjoy cycling, trampolining and building train tracks!
Amy Littlewood – Violin
Amy started playing the violin at the age of 7. She first studied with her father Graeme Littlewood, (sub principal violin CBSO) and subsequently with Jackie Hartley (then co-leader of CBSO). In 2003 she won the Roy Heartfield music scholarship at Solihull 6th form College and in 2006 was awarded a scholarship to study violin at Birmingham Conservatoire with Nathaniel Vallois. After graduating with first class honours in 2010, she received a further scholarship to continue on a postgraduate course to complete her studies.
Amy has won a number of solo violin competitions and awards, winning 1st place in the Birmingham Conservatoire Strings Prize, the Doris Newton Prize, the Herbert Lumby Prize, the BPO Concerto Competition, the Delius Prize and the Meher Rohi Gazder award. Amy also won 2nd prize in the national violin competition – ‘The Kenneth Page Foundation’ and gained a place in the semi finals of the Lions Club international violin competition. After winning first prize in the Delius competition in 2013, Amy has been asked to record both the Delius and Stanford double concertos with her duo partner – Hetti Price.
Amy plays in the Hepplewhite Piano Trio: who were Junior Fellows of the Birmingham Conservatoire 2011-2013. They have performed at the Purcell Room, London and have given recitals for many chamber music societies across the UK. The trio have won many prizes including 1st prize in the Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music Competition in 2010, 1st prize in the Leamington Music Society Competition, 1st prize in the Ambache Prize and 1st prize in the Symphony Hall/Town Hall Competition, which led to a recital in the Town Hall in February 2012. They were also the 1st chamber music group to reach the finals of the Ludlow Philharmonic Concerto Prize. In April 2012 they attended the highly renowned Prussia Cove music course – the International Musicians Seminar and are currently on a mentorship scheme at Chamber Studio, London where they participate in masterclasses with eminent chamber musicians. They were selected by the Schubert Ensemble to take part in its Associate Ensembles Scheme in 2014, with funding from the Hinrichsen Foundation, collaborating with them on educational projects for Chamber Music 2000.
In April 2008 Amy was invited to play in the Menuhin Competition masterclass at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She has since performed in many other masterlcasses with James Ehnes, Erich Gruenberg, Gyorgy Pauk, Ilya Gringolts, Detlaf Hahn, Jack Leibeck, Felix Andrievsky, Jaqueline Ross and Rifka Golani.
As soloist with orchestra, Amy has performed numerous concertos including Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto no.1, Saent Saens’ Violin concerto no.3, Bruch’s Violin Concerto, Barber’s Violin Concerto, Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, Saint-Saens Havanaise, Piazzolla’s and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, Delius’ Double Concerto and both the Beethoven and Martinu Triple Concertos.
Amy is a freelance orchestral violinist and is a regular extra player with the CBSO, holds a position in the 1st violins with the Orchestra of the Swan, as well as performing with orchestras across the UK such as London Mozart Players and RPO. Alongside Amy’s performing career, she is very interested in the psychology of music performance and works as a Performance Mentor; working with musicians to perform to their full potential under pressure.
Richard Laing – Violin
Richard Laing studied with Peter Schaffer at the University of Illinois and with Richard Ireland at the Royal Northern College of Music. For seven years he was Principal second violin of Sinfonia Cymru, which instilled in him a love for the chamber orchestra repertoire. He now freelances with chamber orchestras in London and the Midlands, and appears as a guest leader with many of the country’s finest amateur orchestras. Since winning the Sinfonia ViVA Conducting Scholarship Richard has developed an increasingly busy conducting schedule, holding positions with Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and Chandos Symphony Orchestra, and directing choirs in Nottingham, Leicester, Cambridge and Somerset. He frequently undertakes choral preparation, off-stage conducting and pre-concert talks for orchestras such as the Hallé and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and for conductors such as Sir Mark Elder and Cristian Mandeal.
While still an undergraduate, Richard’s work in Manchester on John F. Kennedy’s policy in Vietnam won him the Kaiser Award for American History. He has presented papers on apocalyptic cinema, M.C. Escher and reality TV at the International Conferences on Film and Literature at Florida State University, and on Wagner’s Ring cycle at the International Wagner Symposium at the University of Adelaide. Among his proudest achievements are being appointed Vice President of the University of Illinois Triathlon Club and having articles published in the iconic games magazine White Dwarf.
Richard is married to the singer and psychologist Karen Wise, Research Fellow at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. They live in Huntingdon with their
Catalin Chelaru – Violin
Catalin studied violin at the National University of Music, Bucharest after which he received a scholarship to continue his studies at postgraduate level at Birmingham Conservatoire where he studied with David Le Page, Alexandra Wood and Susanne Stanzeleit. During his studies there, Catalin was awarded the Strings Prize, the Herbert Lumby Prize, Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music Prize and the Doris Newton Music Club and was selected as Junior Fellow in chamber music. Catalin’s orchestral training includes membership of the CBSO training scheme, Cheltenham Festival Academy and the YMSO. As well as being a member of Orchestra of the Swan, Catalin is freelancing with various orchestras and groups such as the English Symphony Orchestra, Bristol Ensemble, Westminster Chamber Orchestra, Cohen Ensemble, Southern Sinfonia, Longborough Opera and West Green House Opera to name a few. Catalin is also the leader of the newly formed Nova Foresta group in Hampshire and occasionally guest leads the Chandos Symphony Orchestra. More recently Catalin has participated at Dartington and Presteigne Festivals. Catalin has toured Turkey, Mexico, France, Croatia and the United States as an orchestral player and his solo performances include the Tchaikovsky and Wieniawski violin concertos.
Catalin plays an Andrea Ortona Violin, generously on loan from The Royal Society of Musicians via their Fine Instrument Scheme.
Naomi Rump – Violin
Naomi Rump began the violin at the tender age of six, studying with Kathryn Hardman and Christopher Hirons. She graduated from Cambridge University with a First in English, and launched herself into the itinerant life of the freelance violinist. She now lives in Bristol, but finds her work leading much further afield: the last twelve months allowed her to take in icebergs in Greenland, midnight sun in St.Petersburg and Norwegian fjords, alongside the more prosaic traffic-jams of the M25.
Naomi frequently plays for the Pavão Quartet: recent highlights have included the Elgar piano quintet with John Lill; a long-running ‘Paul Robeson’ collaboration with Sir Willard White; a recording for the Classic FM label with guitarist Craig Ogden; and a recording, for Decca, of composer Eric Whitacre’s choral music, for the album ‘Light and Gold’. The last two discs topped the classical music charts in the UK and USA. Other recordings include work with Hayley Westenra, John Barrowman, The Villagers and the music for Rick Stein’s television series. She has played the viola with Ronnie Scott’s All Stars.
Naomi holds seats in both the Bristol Ensemble and the Orchestra of the Swan, and has recorded with Welsh National Opera. She also makes occasional forays into the commercial market, filming for Sky television and recording with Bristol Ensemble for the BBC’s natural history department. She works as an animateur in special needs schools, particularly enjoying projects with autistic children. She is currently the recipient of the Sir Charles Makerras Fellowship at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Vanessa Murby – Viola
Having begun her violin studies at the age of seven, Vanessa graduated to the dark side six years later after her twin sister volunteered her for the viola section in the local youth orchestra! Continuing her studies with seven years at The Royal College of Music, where she received the RCM Withers Award and the Tagore Gold Medal, Vanessa is now much in demand as an orchestral and chamber musician. As well as working with the National Youth Ballet, BBC Symphony Orchestra and at the Royal Opera House, she has performed at private functions for Her Majesty the Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales and at countless wedding ceremonies as instrumentalist and vocalist!
When not playing or teaching, Vanessa is mum to (nearly) teenage son, Daniel, enjoys tackling cryptic crosswords and is a lifetime member of the Rip Van Winkle Appreciation Society.
Mark Chivers – Viola
Mark studied Viola at York University and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Alan George (an original member of The Fitzwilliam String Quartet), Yuko Inoue (Capricorn Ensemble) and Garfield Jackson Violist from the Endellion Quartet.
He now leads a busy freelance career in London, being Principal Viola for many crossover artists including Katherine Jenkins, Andrea Boccelli, Alfie Boe and Russell Watson alongside TV and film sessions (including X Factor, Popstar to Operastar and Britain’s Got Talent for ITV and the soundtracks to Doctor Who, Land Girls, Father Brown Investigates, The Coroner and The Human Planet for the BBC). He also recorded the score for Victoria Wood’s film “That Day We Sang” (starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton) which aired on BBC2/Boxing Day 2014.
His appearances on a Hollywood movie soundtrack include “Anna Karennina” (2013) and “The Theory Of Everything” (Nov 2014) which won the Golden Globe for Best Music Score and was nominated for an Oscar.
He can also be heard on many “Sony Award” winning TV Adverts, from Reebok through to Mercedes Benz.
Mark is Principal Viola of the National Symphony Orchestra, a core member of Orchestra Of The Swan and is the newly appointed No.2 for Raymond Gubbay’s London Concert Orchestra, alongside extensive work for the BBC Orchestras. He was also in Katie Melua’s String Quartet (11 million albums sold) alongside touring with a diverse range of pop artists (from Peter Gabriel to Goldfrapp)
Mark was also Principal Viola for Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds UK Tours and has deputised on many touring West End Shows including Phantom Of The Opera and Les Miserables.
His String Quartet (Masquerade) has recorded two CD’s of his arrangements: Music from Broadway and The Great American Songbook.
In 2015-16 the Quartet toured the UK with Russell Watson in his “Up Close and Personal” Tour and “Songs from The Heart” Tour. A massive 150 dates visiting smaller theatres in a new long term working relationship with the Godfather of crossover.
Robyn Lund – Viola
Robyn believes music is a cultural entitlement and is happy to dedicate her life to sharing it’s transformative power in myriad ways. As a teacher she works in a wide range of settings including Uppingham School, Foremarke Hall, National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain and Birmingham Schools Central Ensembles. Robyn’s orchestral work is equally broad including concerts and recordings with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Orchestra of the Swan, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Presteigne Festival Orchestra as well as tours with legends such as Steve Hackett, Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick. Outside of the concert hall Robyn is proud to be involved in initiatives to increase access to high quality live performances for the Rural Touring Network and through work lead by Mind Song bringing live music to dementia patients and their families.
Robyn is grateful for all the childhood opportunities afforded to her by Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Service and their staff, which paved the way for her to study the viola at Birmingham Conservatoire with Jonathan Barritt. As a student Robyn won first prize in the Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music Prize (2011), Herburt Lumby Prize for Violin and Viola Players (2012), the Ambache Prize for the Performance of Music by Women Composers (2013) and completed her studies after achieving distinction in her Masters.
Nick Stringfellow – Cello
As a student of Clive Greensmith at the RNCM, Nick was tutored in the American cello tradition, based on techniques developed by Leonard Rose from Galamian. After continuing his studies at the RCM with Anna Shuttleworth and Anthony Pleeth he got a job as a music librarian with the BBC, allowing him to move to London. He soon joined “Spirituoso”, the resident ensemble at Handel House and “Mercurius Company”, building a reputation for their thrilling music and dance performances. Nick continued this interest, collaborating with choreographer Will Tuckett on “Archduke Variations” with members of the Royal Ballet and his “Artaria Piano Trio”.
Continually in demand as an orchestral principal, Nick also works with many eminent artists in the rock and pop world, leading cello sections for the likes of Smokey Robinson, George Benson, Melanie C and Johnny Mathis. He recently collaborated with tenor Alfie Boe on a version of the John Prine classic “Angel’s from Montgomery” for solo voice and cello ensemble.
In recent years Nick has become cellist with the Villiers Quartet. Winning international acclaim for their “VQ New Works competition”, the string quartet will be performing “Arcadiana” by Thomas Ades at this years’ North York Moors Festival. Next season will see the VQ recording the quartets of Robert Still for Naxos and a concert tour of the USA.
Chris Allan – Cello
A long-time member of Orchestra of the Swan Chris graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He studied with Stefan Popov, Louise Hopkins and Karine Georgian and chamber music with the Takacs and Borodin String Quartets.
Following his graduation he joined the acclaimed contemporary music group “the gogmagogs”, performing at the City of London Festival, in Toronto, at the Sidney Festival, in New York, Sao Paolo and across Europe.
He is a member of the Le Page Ensemble, with whom he has made a number of recordings, and has performed as principal cellist with Chroma, Music Theatre Wales (recording Philip Glass’s Chamber Opera “In the Penal Colony” last year) and the Clod Ensemble. He has also appeared with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia.
Chris was solo cellist with the Mike Westbrooke company for a number of years and has collaborated with a diverse array of artists, from choreographer / composer Hofesh Shechter, to mime artist Oscar Valsecchi and composers Django Bates, Stephen Warbeck and Paul Clarke.
He has appeared in a number of theatre productions (on cello and viola da gamba) at the RSC (Lear, Hamlet), the Globe (Othello) and the National Theatre (Three Sisters, Waves, Some Trace of Her, Mrs Affleck) and was a founder member of the electro acoustic band the Subway Piranhas, with whom he appeared at the Rhythm Sticks Festival at the South Bank, and he recently co-founded the London Cellophonic
Chris has composed the music for “In Your Dreams” at the Almeida Theatre and produced the music for the Amit Gupta film “Resistance”.
He has also, with the gogmagogs, given workshops at the Julliard School of Music, and has lead music / improvisation / theatre projects at the “Music House” chamber music course, held at the Menuhin School, and, of course, at Con Corda.
Anna Joubert – Cello
Anna Joubert grew up in a musical family playing trios with her pianist mother, Mary and violinist brother, Pierre. She studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music with the late Dougie Cummings, then the charismatic Principal Cellist in the London Symphony Orchestra. Since then Anna has built a varied and busy freelance career with many orchestras and ensembles from the RSC to the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. Highlights include a coast to coast tour of the USA with Yehudi Menuhin, numerous TV and radio recordings from BBC’s The Archers signature tune to music by Britten and Bartok and chamber music recitals with family, colleagues and friends. She can be heard in a recording of her father John Joubert’s Piano Trio as part of a successful two disc celebration of his 80th birthday on the Somm label.
Anna has enjoyed playing with Orchestra of the Swan for over ten years and has recently found much satisfaction in taking music to Care Homes for dementia sufferers through one of the orchestra’s outreach programmes.
Away from the cello, Anna holds a Certificate in Counselling Skills, does social media for the British Music Society and is married with a son and a daughter. She also enjoys a slice of cake and a good laugh!
Claire Whitson – Double Bass
Claire started her musical career early on at the age of 3. Being a daughter of two musicians in London, Claire was surrounded by the arts and it didn’t take long for the ‘excitement‘ of the profession to grab her. Having started on the Cornet, Claire then moved onto the Cello and then finally found her groove with the Double Bass aged 10. After a few months Claire was a member of the National Children’s Orchestra and after a few years moved onto the NYO GB leading to a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music.
Whilst studying Double Bass at the Royal Academy, Claire was a member of EUYO and led all the orchestra’s at the conservatoire. Further to this, Claire was awarded the Manlio de Selma Prize for Bass playing.
Claire was destined for a successful career and this began whilst still at the Royal Academy. Claire was a regular player with all UK orchestra’s including the Philharmonia, London Symphony Orchestra, all BBC Orchestra’s and working in the West End and on TV/Film sessions including Downton Abbey, Dr Who and many films.
After 7 busy years of a London freelance career, Claire moved to set up life with her husband (from Somerset) that coincided with a trial for BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Claire was offered this job (and another with the BBC Symphony,) but decided to remain in Somerset. Having been a member of BBC NOW for 11 years as well as freelancing still, Claire has also had 2 daughters – Olivia and Matilda. This led to a decision to cut down the playing with the BBC and focus more on family life, teaching and more diverse Bass playing. This then led to work with OOTS in many different ways, education – dementia care projects, as well as the mainstream concert series. Now appointed Principal Double Bass, Claire is excited for more adventures with OOTS in the future.
Diane Clark – Flute
Diane enjoys a very busy and varied career as a freelance flautist. She has been Principal Flute of Orchestra of the Swan from its beginning and Principal Flute of Longborough Opera Orchestra since 1998. Diane also works with other leading orchestras and ensembles including the RSC, CBSO and BCMG.
She has performed many concertos with Orchestra of the Swan including Mozart’s Concerto no.1 in G major, Mozart’s Concerto for flute and harp, Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto no.1, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos no.2 and no.5, Bach’s B minor Suite and John Rutter’s Suite Antique along with premieres by Alexander Goehr, Joe Cutler and Douglas J Cuomo.
She also plays regularly in a flute and harp duo, performing recitals and entertaining guests at a variety of different types of functions.
Diane believes passionately in sharing her music with all people and loves being actively involved in outreach work organised by Orchestra of the Swan and Music for Health, playing in care homes and hospitals.
Nick Bhattacharjee – Flute
Nick began his musical studies at Chetham’s School of music where he studied with Alan Lockwood. He then went on to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where, after three years of principal study flute with Richard Chester MBE he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree. Nick then moved on to the Birmingham Conservatoire where he continued his flute tuition with Kevin Gowland and graduated with a Master of Arts with Distinction.
Nick became co-principal flute with Orchestra of the Swan in 1997. He has also freelanced extensively and has toured with orchestras to America (New York Alice Tully Hall), Switzerland, Germany (Berlin Konzerthaus), France, Austria and Holland (Royal Concertgebouw). Other career highlights include having played for royalty and at the BBC Proms. Nick also has an extensive teaching practice in Liverpool where he currently lives.
Nick plays on a 14 karat rose gold flute made for him by WM.S.Haynes company in Boston, America.
Victoria Brawn – Oboe
Described by The Telegraph as “a dream of a first oboe” whilst playing at the London Proms with the European Union Youth Orchestra , Victoria went on to win the Isle of Wight International oboe competition in 1997. Following this success Victoria was appointed principal oboist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra from 1998 to 2002. Since returning to the UK Victoria has performed with many orchestras including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra amongst many others. Victoria is now principal oboe of the Stratford based Orchestra of the Swan and Bath Philharmonia and Longborough Opera. She has a varied career playing chamber music with such ensembles as the Innovation Chamber Ensemble and the The Harborough Collective alongside her own ensemble Dolce Musica. She recently received a five star review, her playing described as “sweet toned and shapely of phrasing” for her performance of the Bach Oboe and Violin Concerto with violinist Tamsin Whaley-Cohen and Orchestra of the Swan.
Louise Braithwaite – Oboe
Louise took up the oboe by accident.
Aged ten, she fell over a dusty box in her parents’ attic and found a strange looking instrument inside. Although long-forgotten and very sorry for itself, she applied what she knew from the school recorder club and managed to get some sounds out of it. It turned out to be called an oboe and there was no going back.
Louise was supported and encouraged in her early music-making by the excellent provision of county music ensembles and teachers in Worcestershire and the West Midlands during the 1980’s and 1990’s.
She holds an academic honours degree in music from Huddersfield Polytechnic and a postgraduate performance diploma from the Royal Northern College of Music. Her most influential teachers have been Hugh McKenna and Val Taylor, both of whom were students of the British oboist Janet Craxton, who had herself been a student of Leon Goossens.
Louise has performed, recorded and broadcast throughout the UK and overseas, primarily as an orchestral oboe, oboe d’amore and cor anglais player, but also as a soloist. She can be heard regularly with Orchestra of the Swan and Longborough Festival Opera, and enjoys a busy schedule of freelance orchestral work with other ensembles including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 she was the cor anglais soloist in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at Longborough, under the direction of Anthony Negus. These performances were favourably reviewed by numerous journals, including the New York Times.
Louise plays dual-system French Loreé instruments and makes all her reeds from scratch at the kitchen table using specialist equipment and bad language.
When not at work she can be found in the field with the family’s piebald gelding, zipping about by motorcycle, or driving very slowly in a 7.5 tonne horse lorry. She lives with her husband, their teenage daughter and a sock-stealing cat.
Sally Harrop – Clarinet
Originally from Sheffield, Sally Harrop studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire with Janet Hilton. She has also participated in masterclasses with Joseph Horovitz. Whilst studying at Birmingham she was awarded the Silver Medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians, nominated by the Conservatoire for her achievements in music.
As BBC Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year she has broadcast as soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra on several occasions and made her Symphony Hall debut plying the Copland Concerto with Simon Rattle. Sally now plays with many orchestras up and down the country including CBSO, Opera North, and of course Orchestra of the Swan.Sally has made numerous concerto appearances across the country including at the Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, the Chichester Festival, Shrewsbury Music Hall and the Town Hall in Birmingham.
Sally is passionate about taking music beyond the concert platform – in addition to her teaching commitments at the Birmingham Conservatoire, she is a core player in Orchestra of the Swan’s education and outreach team which has seen her performing in a variety of locations across the region including village halls, churches and even Birmingham International Airport!
Outside of music Sally enjoys spending time with her dogs Disney, Tizer, Sunny, Star and Chuckle.
Luan Shaw – Clarinet
Luan Shaw studied clarinet with Janet Hilton at Birmingham Conservatoire during which time she became a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra and a recipient of the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Silver Medal. She later went on to study for a Masters in Psychology for Musicians at the University of Sheffield and develop a ‘portfolio’ career to include solo, chamber and orchestral performance, instrumental and classroom teaching (including a Head of Music position); workshop delivery/interactive performance in early years settings, mainstream and special schools, hospitals, hospices and care homes; adjudicating work for the British and International Federation of Festivals and Diploma examining for ABRSM. Luan has played co-principal clarinet with OOTS since 2008.
Alongside freelance activity, Luan is Associate Professor, Director of Postgraduate Studies and Head of Pedagogy at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She was awarded Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.
A potentially interesting piece of trivia: Luan, like principal clarinettist Sally, grew up in Sheffield. So our clarinet section have been playing in orchestras and wind bands together since they were teenagers!
Phil Brookes – Bassoon
Philip has been the principal bassoonist of OOTS for most of the orchestra’s 21 years. During that time, he has twice performed the Mozart Bassoon Concerto, as well as the Haydn Concertante.
Away from OOTS, Philip works with Mid Wales Opera, Longborough Festival Opera, the RSC and the CBSO. He teaches in schools across Birmingham and Warwick, as well as tutoring local youth orchestras. He is married to Martha Ann, who is principal trombonist of OOTS. He also provides a free taxi service to his two children, 18-year-old bassoonist Verity, and 16-year-old trombonist Robert. In his limited free time, he enjoys watching Moseley RFC and avidly supporting the brewing industry. Philip also attempts to sing tenor in his local church choir, much to the amusement of his family.
Oliver Galletta – Bassoon
Born into a musical family, Oliver’s interest in music began at the age of seven as a choir boy at Brecon Cathedral in mid-Wales. He took up the bassoon at the age of 9 after a friend of his Grandmother found one in their attic and donated it to him to learn on.
At the age of 13 Oliver won a place at Wells Cathedral School in Somerset (one of the UK’s four specialist music schools) where he studied bassoon, cello and piano. During his time there he won the Texaco Young Musician of Wales competition in 1999 and was also a semi-finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2000. This was followed by studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, where he graduated from in 2003 with a BMus (Hons) degree in performance.
Following graduation, Oliver joined the Band of the Welsh Guards, as principal bassoonist (and was also occasionally let loose on the bass drum and cymbals!). During his time in the army, Oliver could regularly be seen in the Guards’ trademark fluffy hat performing in the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, and at high-profile state ceremonial events like Beating Retreat, Festival of Remembrance and Trooping the Colour.
After leaving the army in 2010, Oliver embarked upon a successful freelance orchestral career and now enjoys performing regularly with many of the UK’s top orchestras, including Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Northern Chamber Orchestra & Royal Shakespeare Company. Alongside this, he is also a busy chamber musician and soloist.
Oliver was appointed sub-principal bassoonist in Orchestra of the Swan in June 2017 and is thrilled to be part of this exciting ensemble.
Francesca Moore-Bridger – Horn
Francesca progressed through the National Children’s Orchestra and National Youth Orchestras of Great Britain, before reading Music at Newnham College, Cambridge, holding an instrumental award scholarship.
Following her undergraduate studies, she won a full scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music where she was principal horn of all Academy orchestras and winner of numerous awards, including the prestigious Dennis Brain Memorial Horn Prize.
Graduating with distinction, she was appointed principal horn of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, Chile, before returning to London in 2011 to launch a freelancing career. Francesca is principal horn of Orchestra of the Swan, and an established soloist and chamber musician. Francesca works with many of the top UK orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the London Chamber Orchestra. She also works as a session musician with the London Metropolitan Orchestra and with theatre companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company. Francesca teaches at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and firmly believes in the importance of music education.
Craig Macdonald – Horn
Originally from Elgin in Scotland, Craig has been living in Cardiff for 6 years and has been working as freelance musician since he finished his studies in 2009.
After finishing school, Craig won a place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama as it was known then) in 2004, and studied with David Flack and Hugh Potts for four years. He graduated with a BMus in performance.
He then won a Leverhulme Arts Scholarship to study for a MMus in Orchestral performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He studied with Hugh Seenan, Jeff Bryant and Richard Bissil, and graduated with a Masters degree in 2009.
As well as Craig’s recent appointment as 2nd Horn with the Orchestra of the Swan, Craig has a busy freelance and teaching career. As a freelance musician, Craig has worked with many orchestras throughout the UK and abroad. These include: the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales (including a trial for 2nd horn), Welsh National Opera, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, English National Ballet, Manchester Camerata, RTE National Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of India.
Craig feels very honoured to be asked to be a regular member of the Swan, and is very excited to be a part of the orchestra’s future.
Hugh Davies – Trumpet
Hugh Davies started learning the trumpet when he was eight, later studying at The Royal College of Music. His performing career covers a broad range of styles: a typical week might see him playing a choral concert, for a rock band, recording a film score or writing library music.
Hugh has made many recordings with Orchestra of the Swan including The Capricorn Concerto by Samuel Barber and Quiet City by Aaron Copland, and recently Shostakovich Piano Concerto no1 for piano, solo trumpet & strings. Hugh also plays regularly with the
BBC Concert Orchestra, the London Mozart Players and he has played on countless West End Shows from Chicago to Les Miserables.
Hugh runs an online recording studio, Realbrass, from home where he records the trumpet for all kinds of media composers, and as such he has featured on many adverts, jingles, soundtracks and video games including Brainfreeze and Animal Antics for the BBC,
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and The Secret Millionaire for Channel 4, British Airways, Sony and Mars adverts to name but a few.
Peter Wright – Trumpet
Peter started playing the Cornet in his local brass band – Woburn Sands – at the age of 8. He went on to study at the Royal College Of Music where his teacher was David Mason – David played the famous piccolo trumpet solo on the Beatles “Penny Lane”. Peter has been a member of the London Mozart Players for 30 years and was appointed by the orchestra’s founder – Harry Blech.
Peter was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare from 1983-2004 playing in every production, on and off stage, in a multitude of interesting costumes! He travelled to Los Angeles with the RSC and performed as part of the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival. Back in London, Peter was also the original trumpet player in Les Miserables. Peter has spent most of his career as a freelance trumpet player working with all the London Orchestras and recording for films and TV. He was heard for many years, every evening, on the titles of the BBC news. Peter also worked with the Philharmonia Orchestra during the World tour of The Three Tenors. In recent years Peter has also performed in the West End hit show War Horse. In his spare time, Peter enjoys cooking and skiing.
Martha Ann Brookes – Trombone
Martha Ann Brookes was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. After two years of piano, she transferred onto the accordion at the age of 7. When 9, she started cornet in the local Salvation Army band. She moved on to trombone when she was 12 when the 2 boys who were the trombone section left.
At Secondary School, Martha Ann continued brass lessons with Bill Owen – the jazz trumpet specialist, who took her through to grade 8 – won the Dux of Music, became Principal Trombone with the Fife Youth Orchestra and gained a place with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.
After representing Scotland in the British Accordion Championships twice, she decided to choose the trombone as her main instrument. During her 4 years of study at the Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Martha Ann won the Governors’ Recital Prize for Brass and the Diploma RSAMD in Teaching and Performance.
Further studies continued at the National Centre for Orchestral Studies, where she performed the Larsson Concertino. In that year, Martha Ann was chosen to represent Scotland in the Jeunesses Musicale World Orchestra, the first Scot to do so in over 20 years. Before finishing her studies at NCOS, she was offered a job with the L’orchestra Symphonie d’Europe in Paris. She started the job 2 days after graduating. After a year working in Paris, where she took part in concerts for the European Parliament, the French television programme version of Wogan, and performing at the French equivalent of the Oscars, Martha Ann became 2nd trombonist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
After 2 wonderful years in Hong Kong, the lure of wedding bells brought her back to Britain to start a new life in Birmingham with husband Philip. Martha Ann is now a busy freelancer and teacher. Besides being Principal Trombonist for Orchestra of the Swan she also works for many of the leading British orchestras.
David Ponsford – Keyboards
David Ponsford is a harpsichordist, organist and author who has been engaged in research and performances of Baroque music throughout his career. An Exhibitioner at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he studied organ with Peter Hurford, Lionel Rogg and Piet Kee, and harpsichord with Kenneth Gilbert and Gustav Leonhardt. Later, he studied with the international Bach scholar Peter Williams for a PhD. For 17 years he was Associate Lecturer at Cardiff University, where he was conductor of the University Chamber Orchestra, the University Choir and directed courses in Performance Practice. He also gives regular lectures at Madingley Hall, Cambridge.
Following the publication of his book ‘French Organ Music in the Reign of Louis XIV’ (Cambridge University Press, 2011; paperback edition, 2016), David has been engaged in recording a series of CDs for Nimbus Records of French Baroque organ repertoire on historic French instruments, of which the first six have been released to critical acclaim. His edition of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas was published by Ut Orpheus, Bologna, in 2007, and his new edition of the Premier livre d’orgue by Nicolas de Grigny is now in production.
He owns a collection of harpsichords on which he has made many recordings, including J. S. Bach’s complete violin sonatas with Jacqueline Ross for ASV.
Although Welsh by birth, he lives in Gloucestershire and in recent years has given recitals in France, Germany, Poland, India, Singapore, Canada and the USA, in addition to the UK.
Details of concerts, recordings and publications can be found on: DavidPonsford.org.
Tim Farmer – Percussion
Timothy Farmer grew up at Birmingham Citadel and is a product of the Birmingham Citadel Junior Band. Originally a Cornet player, Tim started to play percussion in his teens. He studied percussion at the Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating with a BMus(Hons), and now works as a freelance musician and teacher.
Tim is an experienced percussionist and works with Orchestra of the Swan and the English Symphony Orchestra as well as theatre work with touring productions and at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon.