Eleanor Alberga

Born 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica, Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist. Five years later she was composing works for the piano. In 1968 she won the biennial Royal Schools of Music Scholarship for the West Indies, which she took up in 1970 at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying piano and singing.  But a budding career as a solo pianist—she was one of three finalists in the International Piano Concerto Competition in Dudley, UK in 1974—was further augmented by composition with her arrival at The London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1978. Under the inspirational leadership of its Artistic Director, Robert Cohan, she became one of the very few pianists with the deepest understanding of modern dance and her company class improvisations became the stuff of legend. These in turn led to works commissioned and conceived for dance from the company and Alberga later became the company’s Musical Director, conducting, composing, and playing on LCDT’s many tours.

 

It was on leaving LCDT that Alberga was able to fully embark on the journey towards her calling as a composer. Since then, interest in her music across all genres—orchestral, chamber, vocal, and works for stage and screen—has accelerated, while her output has continued to grow. In 2015, her commissioned work Arise Athena! for the opening of the Last Night of the BBC Proms, was seen and heard by millions and cemented her reputation as a composer of huge originality and consummate skill.

 

Alberga has gathered a number of awards—notably a NESTA fellowship in 2000 and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 2019. In 2020 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

 

At different times Alberga was a member of the African Dance Company Fontomfrom and played guitar and sang with the Jamaican Folk Singers. She was part of the duo Double Exposure with her husband, the violinist Thomas Bowes, and more recently they have together founded and nurtured Arcadia, an original festival in the English countryside where they live.

 

eleanoralberga.com

arcadiamusic.org.uk

 

photo: Ben Ealovega

Nicholas Daniel oboe

Nicholas Daniel has long been acknowledged as one of the world’s great oboe players, and is one of Britain’s best known musicians. In a distinguished career that began more than four decades ago he has become an important ambassador in many different musical fields, and has significantly enlarged the repertoire for his instrument with the commissioning of hundreds of new works.

 

Daniel dedicates his life to music in many ways. He records and broadcasts widely, including regular recordings on the Harmonia Mundi Label, and he boasts a huge following internationally on social media. He is proud to support and patronize many important initiatives, charities, and trusts, and has directed several music festivals and concert series, most notably in Germany and Dartington. He has also been Music Director of the Leicester International Music Festival and Lunchtime series for many years. He is highly sought after as a teacher, being Professor at the Trossingen Musikhochschule in Germany and at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

 

Following his BBC Proms conducting debut in 2004, he works with many fine ensembles in wide-ranging repertoire, from Baroque to contemporary, and from small groups to opera. He is Music Director of Triorca, an orchestral project which brings together talented young musicians from Serbia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In recognition of his achievements he was honoured in 2012 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the prestigious Queen’s Medal for Music, and cited as having made “an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the nation.” In October 2020 he was awarded an Order of the British Empire.

 

Having sung as in the choir of Salisbury Cathedral as a boy, Daniel was put directly into the spotlight at the age of 18 when he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. After a short period of study at London’s Royal Academy of Music, with Janet Craxton and Celia Nicklin and then privately with clarinettist Anthony Pay and with Hans Keller, he quickly established his career with early debuts at the BBC Proms and on disc.

 

He has been a concerto soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors, performing a huge range of repertoire from Bach to Xenakis and beyond, premiering works written for him by composers including Harrison Birtwistle, Henri Dutilleux, James MacMillan, Thea Musgrave, John Tavener, and Michael Tippett, as well as encouraging many younger composers to write for the oboe. His recording of concertos by Vaughan Williams and MacMillan was awarded the BBC Music Magazine Premiere Award in 2016.

 

As chamber musician Daniel is a founding member of the award-winning Britten Sinfonia, the Haffner Wind Ensemble, and the Britten Oboe Quartet, whose debut album was released to great acclaim on the Harmonia Mundi label in 2017. He also works regularly with the pianists Charles Owen and Julius Drake, and with many leading string quartets including the Carducci and Vogler. He is principal oboist of Camerata Pacifica, California’s leading chamber music ensemble, and is a popular guest at music festivals all over the world.

Richard Watkins horn

Richard Watkins was the Philharmonia Orchestra’s principal horn for 12 years, and is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founding member of London Winds. He has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious venues in the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., and has worked with conductors including Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Vasily Petrenko, Andrew Davis, and Mark Elder.

 

Watkins has a long association with Aldeburgh Music, first performing Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with Peter Pears in 1983. Since then he appears regularly as soloist and recitalist, performing concertos by Colin Matthews and Oliver Knussen, and Britten’s works for solo horn, the Serenade, and Canticles. Watkins coaches and gives master classes at the Britten-Pears School, recorded Britten’s Serenade with Allan Clayton and Aldeburgh Strings, and directed the inaugural Britten–Pears Brass Week.

 

In recital, he performs with singers including John Mark Ainsley, Ian Bostridge, and Mark Padmore, and with pianists Barry Douglas, Julius Drake, Paul Lewis, Roger Vignoles, and Ian Brown.

 

Watkins has premiered concertos by Maxwell-Davies, Nigel Osborne, Magnus Lindberg, Dominic Muldowney, Nicola LeFanu, and Colin and David Matthews. Recent premieres include Colin Matthews’s Horn Concerto and trio; horn quintets by James MacMillan, David Matthews, and Mark-Anthony Turnage; and horn trios by Huw Watkins, Alexander Goehr, and Gerald Barry.

 

He has recorded the Mozart, Arnold, Glière, Smyth, and Matthews horn concertos; Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante; and chamber works by Schumann, Schubert, and Poulenc. Recent releases include the Britten Canticles with Mark Padmore (Wigmore Live), Alexander Goehr’s Horn Trio (NMC), Edward Gregson’s Horn Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic (Chandos), and Sea-Eagle, featuring works by British composers composed for Watkins (NMC).

 

Watkins holds the Dennis Brain Chair of Horn Playing at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is also a Fellow.

Thomas Bowes violin

Thomas Bowes is one of the UK’s finest violinists. His concerto appearances in the UK, Germany, and the USA have included highly-praised performances of concertos by Elgar, Britten, Szymanowski, and Walton.

 

He is very active in the realm of cinema, and millions have heard him on the soundtracks of his numerous film credits.

 

Bowes’s recording of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas was released in 2018 on the Navona label to great critical acclaim. Laurence Vittes in Gramophone Magazine noted it was “deeply human…unusually communicative…a succession of miracles.” His “Bach Pilgrimage” is now a feature of every season and future events will take him all over the world. In 2019 Bowes was given a Sebastian Award by the Ars Ante Portas Civic Association of Bratislava, Slovakia for his “Extraordinary contribution in maintaining public appreciation of the work of J.S. Bach.”

 

Navona also released Bowes’s recording of the complete Ysaÿe solo sonatas in 2020. Critics noted a depth of interpretation and characterisation. At the time of writing, the recording was nominated for the solo instrumental category of the International Classical Music Awards.

 

Between 1988 and 1993 he was the founding leader of the Maggini String Quartet and, together with his wife, the composer and pianist Eleanor Alberga, he formed the duo Double Exposure in 1995. The duo toured extensively in the USA and Europe and together they made a major tour of China in 1997, winning the hearts of their audiences wherever they played. They returned to China in November 2019.

 

Bowes has been a constant advocate of Alberga’s music and has given first performances of many of her works including her two violin concertos. Between 2003 and 2015 he was the Artistic Director of the Langvad Chamber Music Jamboree in Denmark. More recently, with Alberga, he founded the music festival Arcadia in north Herefordshire, England. Bowes is privileged to own and play a violin by one of the great Cremonese makers—a splendid 1659 Nicolo Amati.

photo: Ben Ealovega

Oscar Perks violin

Oscar Perks enjoys a varied career as a violinist and chamber musician. Having started playing the violin at the age of five, Perks was awarded a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School where he studied with Hu Kun and Simon Fischer. He went on to read music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he studied composition with Robin Holloway. He then gained his masters at the Royal College of Music under Lutsia Ibragimova.

 

For five years Perks was a member of the Dante String Quartet, with whom he gave numerous concerts around the UK and abroad. Some of the most memorable moments were the Quartet’s performances of the complete Beethoven and Shostakovich Quartet cycles. With the Dantes, Perks also made recordings of all eight string quartets by C.V. Stanford, many of which were previously unpublished and unrecorded. Since leaving the quartet in 2019, Perks has devoted more time to his recently formed duo partnership with his wife, Ayaka Shigeno.

 

Perks has had the opportunity to perform as a soloist at many leading London venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, and Kings Place. A keen champion of new music, Perks’s performance of Above earth’s shadow by Michael Finnissy was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

 

In addition to his work as a performer, Perks coaches chamber music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and teaches violin at the Yehudi Menuhin School. He also runs the Langvad Jamboree: a summer chamber music festival held at a remote art gallery in northern Denmark, taking place every year in July.

 

Andres Kaljuste viola

Estonian violist, violinist, and conductor Andres Kaljuste is described by maestro Paavo Järvi as “blessed with trademark instinctive musicianship, a sensitive approach to sound and an ability to form an easy and natural bond with other musicians.”


Kaljuste studied orchestral conducting at the Sibelius Academy from 2014, while concurrently appearing as the guest-principal viola of the Helsinki Philharmonic for three consecutive seasons. He soon made his conducting debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic and conducted others in the Nordic region including Lahti Sinfonia, Tampere Philharmonic, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Estonian National Opera, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.


A keen chamber musician, Kaljuste performs regularly at festivals across Europe. He can often be heard in duo with pianist Sophia Rahman, particularly recognized for their performances of the music of Arvo Pärt and Heino Eller.


Kaljuste is a passionate teacher, having taught violin and viola while also holding the position of conductor of the school’s string orchestras at Lilla Akademien in Stockholm.

 

Hannah Sloane cello

A graduate of the Juilliard School, cellist Hannah Sloane enjoys an international career centered upon chamber music. She has participated in Thy, Domaine Forget, Lewes, Wye Valley, Arcadia, Taos and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festivals and is a founding member of the Eusebius Quartet. Formed in 2016, the Eusebius Quartet has been hailed as "excellent" by the Sunday Times for their "clarity and unity of thought." Finalists in the 2018 Royal Overseas League, the quartet has been in residence at numerous festivals around the UK, as well as regularly performing live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune. Their debut recording featuring the chamber music of Eric Korngold will be released by SOMM Recordings in July 2021.

 

As a soloist, Sloane has performed with the Angel, Blackheath, Buxted, Haydon, Lambeth and Juilliard Orchestras. With the Juilliard Orchestra, she played Tan Dun’s Concerto for Six with the composer at Alice Tully Hall. Sloane has worked as guest principal cello with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Spira Mirabilis, and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and has played with Orchestre Romantique et Revolutionnaire, London Chamber Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort, and the MultiStory Orchestra. Sloane graduated from The Juilliard School in New York in 2013. In 2012, she was the recipient of a French American Exchange Grant from the Carla Bruni Sarkozy Foundation, which took her to study at the Paris Conservatoire. Her principal teachers were Carey Beth Hockett, Robert Max, Darrett Adkins, and Joel Krosnick.

 

A passionate teacher, Sloane teaches cello and chamber music at Alleyn’s School and Junior Royal Academy of Music, and has directed courses for Junior MusicWorks, London.

 

Hannah plays a Piattellini cello dating 1780, which is kindly on loan to her from the Stark family.

 

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