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Royal Northern Sinfonia

Lars Vogt – Royal Northern Sinfonia Music Director

Newly appointed Royal Northern Sinfonia Music Director Lars Vogt has established himself as one of the leading musicians of his generation. Born in Düren, Germany in 1970, he first came to public attention when he won second prize at the 1990 Leed... Read more

Lars Vogt

Music Director

Newly appointed Royal Northern Sinfonia Music Director Lars Vogt has established himself as one of the leading musicians of his generation. Born in Düren, Germany in 1970, he first came to public attention when he won second prize at the 1990 Leeds International Piano Competition. His versatility as a pianist ranges from the core classical repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms to the romantics Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, through to the dazzling Lutosławski concerto. He is now increasingly working with orchestras both as conductor and directing from the keyboard.

Lars has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, NHK Symphony and Orchestre de Paris. His special relationship with the Berlin Philharmonic follows his appointment as their first ever ‘pianist in residence’ in 2003/4.

As well as opening Royal Northern Sinfonia’s season, highlights of 2014/15 include concertos with the Orchestre Philharmonique de France, Vienna Symphony, Czech Philharmonic and Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, as well as the London Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin in London and Germany. In North America he appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Boston Symphony, and in South America he performs in São Paolo, Brasilia, Mexico City and Bogotá. He is a key soloist in the Deutschekammerphilharmonie Bremen’s Brahms cycle at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, the Tanglewood and Lanaudière Festivals, and Tokyo’s Opera City Hall. He returns to Japan at the end of the season for concerts with the New Japan Philharmonic.

Lars enjoys a high profile as a chamber musician, and in June 1998 founded his own chamber festival in the village of Heimbach near Cologne. A passionate advocate of making music an essential life force in the community, in 2005 he established a major educational programme ‘Rhapsody in School’, bringing his colleagues to schools across Germany and Austria.

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Bradley Creswick – Leader, 1st Violin

Bradley Creswick has a long association with Northern Sinfonia going back to 1984 when he was first appointed leader. Read more

Bradley Creswick

Leader, 1st Violin

The Huntington Chair

Bradley Creswick has a long association with Royal Northern Sinfonia going back to 1984 when he was first appointed leader.

The musical life then, as now, was amazingly rich and varied, providing some personal highlights such as the EMI recording of Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’ and Concerto Accademico with Richard Hickox, performing Prokofiev’s Concerto no.2 for Radio 3 and recording all the Handel op.6 Concerti grossi with George Malcolm. More recent recordings include: Handel Concerti grossi op.3 for Naxos and the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola by Mozart with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.

In 1987 Bradley moved to London to lead the Philharmonia, still maintaining his relationship with the Sinfonia, making guest appearances, notably as soloist with them in the 1989 BBC Proms playing ‘The Lark Ascending’.

The London years continued as leader of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House before taking the opportunity, in 1994, to return to the Sinfonia and the North East for a second time. Working at Sage Gateshead now provides the chance to play with an even greater variety of musicians, such as James Crabb and Bruce Molsky.

Recently, Bradley has been invited twice to Marlboro Music Festival in America and is asked regularly to guest lead a wide range of orchestras. Playing with friends is a vibrant part of life and he relishes the chance to play with the pianist Margaret Fingerhut, giving recitals around the country; and has occasionally been heard playing western swing fiddle ‘back home’.

Kyra Humphreys – Co-Leader, 1st Violin

Kyra Humphreys is an accomplished orchestral and chamber musician. She has performed with most of the major UK symphony and chamber orchestras and appeared as guest leader with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal O... Read more

Kyra Humphreys

Co-Leader, 1st Violin

The Rathbone Investment Management Chair

Kyra Humphreys is an accomplished orchestral and chamber musician. She has performed with most of the major UK symphony and chamber orchestras and appeared as guest leader with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. She has appeared as a soloist in the BBC Proms and performed in music festivals around the world. Her world premiere of John Casken’s ‘Après un Silence’ (orchestral version) was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and described as “authoritatively dramatic” by The Times.

As the violinist/violist of the Zanfonia Trio Kyra was a finalist in the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition and the trio performed frequently throughout the UK as award winners in both the Munster and John Tunnell Trust concert scheme competitions.

Since 1998 Kyra has been the Co-Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia. She has appeared as director and soloist with the orchestra on numerous occasions, performing a wide repertoire. Highlights include several Mozart Concertos, the Barber Violin Concerto and most recently Piazzola’s ‘Four Seasons’ for Violin Solo and Strings. She has also maintained a busy chamber and contemporary music schedule, playing regularly through the year in Royal Northern Sinfonia chamber ensembles.

A Londoner by birth and a Mathematics graduate of Oxford University, Kyra Humphreys lives in Newcastle with her four children.

Iona Brown – Principal, 1st Violin

Iona joined the Northern Sinfonia first violin section in 1995 and is currently Principal First Violin. She has appeared with the Sinfonia as soloist, leader, and performs regularly in the Chamber ensemble. Read more

Iona Brown

Principal, 1st Violin

Anonymous Chair

Iona joined Royal Northern Sinfonia first violin section in 1995 and is currently Principal First Violin. She has appeared with the Sinfonia as soloist, leader, and performs regularly in the Chamber ensemble.

Born in Manchester, Iona won a scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music studying with Dr Christopher Rowland and Wen Zhou Li. She won many violin and chamber music awards, also the Hiles medal for orchestra playing.

In 1993 Iona joined the Manchester Camerata as principal first violin, also playing in the Camerata Chamber Ensemble and as soloist in Bach’s double violin concerto. Iona was also a member of the contemporary music ensemble Psappha, with whom she performed live on Radio 3.

Iona has performed with many outstanding musicians, including a recent series of recitals with Marco Rizzi, Bruno Pasquier, Gary Hoffman and Jean Bernard Pommier. She is guest leader of the Durham Sinfonia and has played as soloist in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante.

Jane Nossek – Sub-Principal, 1st Violin

Jane Nossek was born in Harrow and began learning the violin with Marta Eitler. Her studies continued with Jaroslav Vanecek at the Junior Department at the Royal College of Music. Read more

Jane Nossek

Sub-Principal, 1st Violin

Jane Nossek was born in Harrow and began learning the violin with Marta Eitler. Her studies continued with Jaroslav Vanecek at the Junior Department at the Royal College of Music. Jane entered the RNCM, Manchester, in 1988 where she studied with Lydia Mordkovich and Maciej Rakowski.

Whilst at the RNCM, Jane won many prizes and scholarships and founded the Nossek Quartet. With considerable support from patrons and musical Trusts, the quartet enjoyed a ten year life-span including foreign tours, media broadcasts and recitals in Wigmore Hall and Buckingham Palace.

As a freelance violinist, Jane played for the Festival d’Art Lyrique in Aix-en-Provence, worked regularly with Remix Ensemble in Porto and played with many of the UK’s orchestras. In 2001 she took up the position of Principal Second at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. After getting married in 2005, Jane moved from Glasgow to Gateshead to join her husband, Gabriel Waite in Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Sarah Roberts – Sub-Principal, 1st Violin

Sarah Roberts started learning the violin with Eta Cohen in Leeds and subsequently with Christopher Rowland, with whom she continues to study at the Royal Northern College of Music. Read more

Sarah Roberts

Sub-Principal, 1st Violin

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Sarah Roberts started learning the violin with Eta Cohen in Leeds and subsequently with Christopher Rowland, with whom she continues to study at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Since entering the RNCM she has played in the college Chamber Orchestra and led both the Symphony and String Orchestras. In 1996 she was finalist in the RNCM Concerto auditions and was awarded the Philip Newman Prize for violin.

As well as performing as soloist, Sarah is also a founder member of the Davis String Quartet, formed at the RNCM, who perform regularly throughout the UK.

In summer 1997 Sarah gained the distinguished Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Performance from the RNCM and was appointed to the first violin section of Royal Northern Sinfonia in December of the same year.

Alexandra Raikhlina – Sub-Principal, 1st Violin

Alexandra Raikhlina Sub-Principal, 1st Violin Alexandra Raikhlina was born in Moscow in 1983 and moved to Belgium in 1990. At the age of 13 she was Laureate of the ‘Charles de Beriot’ competition in Belgium before being awarded a place at the Yehu... Read more

Alexandra Raikhlina

Sub-Principal, 1st Violin

Alexandra Raikhlina was born in Moscow in 1983 and moved to Belgium in 1990.

At the age of 13 she was Laureate of the ‘Charles de Beriot’ competition in Belgium before being awarded a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Natalia Boyarsky.

Later she received a full scholarship to do her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno and Krzsisztof Smietana.

Alexandra has performed extensively as a soloist and a chamber musician in Belgium, England, Switzerland, Russia, Greece and Hong Kong. She has appeared as a soloist and a chamber musician in Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Fairfield Halls and Sage Gateshead. Alexandra has won awards from the Craxton Foundation, the Martin Scholarship Foundation and was awarded the LSO String Scheme Experience.

She was a prize winner at the Richmond upon Thames Performing Arts festival and a finalist and special prize winner (for best performance of a sonata) at the International Koningin Sophie Charlotte competition. Alexandra has appeared as a soloist with the LSO, Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Epsom Symphony Orchestra and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Alexandra’s first BBC Proms appearance was part of the ‘Composers Portrait’ programme broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Other radio appearances have included a performance with her quartet (The Hadrian Ensemble) on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival.

Alexandra has participated in prestigious festivals including the Gstaad and Paxos chamber music festivals, and in 2010 she performed at the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle for the Holocaust Memorial Day.

Alexandra has attended masterclasses with Mstislav Rostropovich, Dora Swarzberg, Boris Garlitsky, Matis Vaitsner, Lewis Caplan, Charles Castleman and Jaqueline Ross.

Alexandra joined Royal Northern Sinfonia in March 2009.

Tristan Gurney – Section Leader, 2nd Violin

Tristan Gurney Section Leader, 2nd Violin Tristan Gurney is leader of the internationally renowned Edinburgh Quartet and enjoys a wide-ranging career as a chamber musician. combining this with his position as section leader second violin of both Roya... Read more

Tristan Gurney

Section Leader, 2nd Violin

Tristan Gurney is leader of the internationally renowned Edinburgh Quartet and enjoys a wide-ranging career as a chamber musician. combining this with his position as section leader second violin of both Royal Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Ensemble. He studied the violin at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, with Yossi Zivoni and then at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, with Lorand Fenyves.

Tristan performs extensively with the Edinburgh Quartet both across the UK and further afield and is regularly broadcast on the BBC. He has collaborated with many esteemed guest artists such as harpist Isobelle Moretti, tenor Andrew Staples, clarinettist Maximiliano Martin and flautist Juliette Bausor, and worked closely with composers such as James MacMillan, Howard Blake, Helen Grime and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. During his time with the group, the Edinburgh Quartet have released numerous recordings including the quartets of Matyas Seiber (Delphian), Howard Blake (Naxos), Thomas Wilson (Delphian), and a compilation of Haydn, Shostakovich and Prokofiev (Delphian). Their most recent disc of James Macmillan Quartets (Delphian) was awarded a Critic’s Choice 2014 in Gramophone Magazine.

In addition to his work with the Edinburgh Quartet, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Ensemble, Tristan gives regular recital and concerto performances across the UK and is Head of Strings at Newcastle University. He plays on a Ferdinand Gagliano Violin.

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Sophie Appleton – Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin

After a musical start in Suffolk, Sophie went to the Purcell School at the age of 11 to study with Marius Bedeschi and seven years later entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study with Detlef Hahn and went on later to learn with Marianne ... Read more

Sophie Appleton

Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin

After a musical start in Suffolk, Sophie went to the Purcell School at the age of 11 to study with Marius Bedeschi and seven years later entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study with Detlef Hahn and went on later to learn with Marianne Thorson.

Since then Sophie has balanced her orchestral career with contemporary music making. She was a founder member of Kürbis with James Weeks, Louisa Tuck and Claudia Molitor and also played frequently with The Hola and Klang Seben. These groups have seen her play regularly on BBC Radio 3 and as part of many contemporary music festivals including Spitalfields, Huddersfield and Soundwaves.

While she freelanced as an orchestral violinist in London, Sophie played regularly with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House amongst others.

She joined the RNS in 2011 and lives in Gateshead with her husband and two children.

Alanna Tonetti-Tieppo – Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin

Alanna Tonetti-Tieppo, originally from the Boston area (USA), began playing the violin in 1994 at the age of four. Read more

Alanna Tonetti-Tieppo

Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin

Alanna Tonetti-Tieppo, originally from the Boston area (USA), began playing the violin in 1994 at the age of four.

In 2004, she began studying at the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusettes with Professor Magdalena Richter and in 2008 was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK. During her tenure at the Royal Academy of Music, Alanna studied with Professors Lydia Mordkovitch, and Remus Azoitei and served as concertmaster of the Royal Academy Symphony Orchestra, and the Symphony of the Encuentro de Musica y Academia de Santander.

Alanna is the former second violinist of the Jubilee String Quartet based in London. The quartet, who were prize winners at the 2013 Trondheim International String Quartet Competition, are also recipients of the Park Lane Group Artists Award, the Hattori Foundation Award, Tillet Trust Award, and the Worship Company of Musicians Maisie Lewis Award which resulted in two Wigmore Hall performances and a Purcell Room performance at the Southbank Centre. They are also winners of the Val Tidone International Chamber Music Competition (2011), the Philharmonia Orchestra MMSF Charles Henderson Ensemble Award (2012), and the St Martin in the Fields Chamber Music Competition (2013) as well as Leverhulme Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music from 2012-13.

Alanna is also involved in outreach work with the Karelia Duo. She and her cellist, Hermione Jones, do a variety of projects together and work mainly through LIVE MUSIC NOW, the leading musician development and outreach organisation in the UK.

In 2014, Alanna completed her Master’s of Music degree with distinction at the Royal College of Music in London as a Leverhulme Scholar under Professor Jan Repko. She is currently Sub-Principal 2nd Violin in the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Jenny Chang – Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin

Jenny Chang Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin Jenny Chang came to the UK from Taiwan at the age of 11 when her mother decided to study for a PhD at the University of Manchester. She soon entered Chetham’s School of Music supported by a governor’s scholar... Read more

Jenny Chang

Sub-Principal, 2nd Violin

Jenny Chang came to the UK from Taiwan at the age of 11 when her mother decided to study for a PhD at the University of Manchester. She soon entered Chetham’s School of Music supported by a governor’s scholarship and subsequently continued her musical studies on the joint course between the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music. During her time in Manchester she seemed to be constantly walking around in wet clothes and was consequently delighted to leave and come to the sunny North East to join Royal Northern Sinfonia in 2004.

An outgoing and sociable person, Jenny enjoys good food, wine and hosting parties, and her house is always open to friends before and after work. She is the reigning RNS cook-off champion, double laureate in coq-au-vin and spaghetti Bolognese (both of which she hosted, incidentally) and would gladly accept any challenge. With exercising a long-term habit, Jenny has also started to bike to and from work and go on hikes with her boyfriend. Apart from keeping up to date with local cultural happenings, she is keen to travel and experience the world. In her spare time she tends to her pet, Bruce, aka the Most Expensive Cat in the North East.

Michael Gerrard – Section Leader, Viola

Michael Gerrard was nine years old when he took up the violin, changing to the viola six years later. He studied with Jaqueline Leonard at Chetham's School and then with Patrick Ireland and Nobuko Imai at the... Read more

Michael Gerrard

Section Leader, Viola

The Layfield Family Chair

Michael Gerrard was nine years old when he took up the violin, changing to the viola six years later. He studied with Jaqueline Leonard at Chetham’s School and then with Patrick Ireland and Nobuko Imai at the Royal Northern College of Music. In 1980 he was prizewinner in the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition. After a post-graduate year with Eli Goren he was appointed associate principal viola with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, and on his return to England two years later became, at the age of 25, one of the youngest professors to teach at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He also taught at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

Michael has broadcast frequently for the BBC with the Matisse Piano Quartet and recorded chamber music with Divertimenti. He joined Royal Northern Sinfonia as principal viola in 1987 and has appeared as soloist on several occasions including performances of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 6 with the Russian violist Yuri Bashmet and performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante under the baton of Heinrich Schiff.

Malcolm Critten – Principal, Viola

Malcolm Critten was awarded a place at Chetham's School of Music in 1972 where he studied with the late Jacqui Leonard. In 1979 he went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Nobuko Imai. Read more

Malcolm Critten

Principal, Viola

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Malcolm originally comes from Manchester but, having lived in the North East for more than 25 years, feels firmly rooted in the region. He studied at Chetham’s (where he first met Mike Gerrard) and then at the RNCM with Nobuko Imai. It was during this time that he discovered his love of the string quartet repertoire and also the thrill of playing in a chamber orchestra.

After leaving college he free-lanced for a number of years before joining RNS in 1987. One of the highlights of his time with RNS was to play Bach’s Brandenburg 6 with Thomas Zehetmair at the Edinburgh Festival.

Malcolm is a keen supporter of chamber music in the region and is a board member of Newcastle Chamber Music Society. He lives at the coast with his wife and three children and in his spare time he is often to be found baking bread or out on his bike, riding the lanes of Northumberland.

Malcolm is at present working for an MA (Music Education) with Trinity College of Music.

Tegwen Jones – Sub-Principal, Viola

Tegwen first joined Northern Sinfonia in 1987 as desk partner of Tony Cullen, a founder member of Northern Sinfonia. Read more

Tegwen Jones

Sub-Principal, Viola

Tegwen first joined Royal Northern Sinfonia in 1987 as desk partner of Tony Cullen, a founder member of the Sinfonia. She then moved to Cardiff to marry Tony Abell, a bass player with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The couple have two children who are now settled into school in Gosforth as Tegwen re-joined the Sinfonia in September 2006. The family find the North East cold but bright, with nowhere near as much rain as Cardiff!

Tegwen studied with Brian Hawkins at the Royal College of Music in London and won the Leverhulme Scholarship for String Quartet playing. She has made many recordings with the Welsh National Opera alongside her favourite singer, Bryn Terfel.

Outside of work Tegwen likes cheese and wine and chatting with friends.
You wouldn’t know it but she’s very good at… organising her family and pegging washing out on the line!
If she has time to herself she…sleeps.
Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books changed her life. She read the book aged seven and was inspired to play by the character of a blind boy who played the violin. She then had to wait two years for a school violin!
Her favourite piece of music is Mozart’s Second Viola Quintet in G Minor.
Her biggest luxury is Radley handbags.

James Slater – Sub-Principal, Viola

James grew up near Bristol and studied in Manchester at the Royal Northern Collage of Music with Nick Logie and Roger Benedict. Read more

James Slater

Sub-Principal, Viola

James grew up near Bristol and studied in Manchester at the Royal Northern College of Music with Nick Logie and Roger Benedict.

After leaving college, he moved to Cardiff from where he freelanced with many of the country’s leading orchestras. James joined Royal Northern Sinfonia in early 2007, just after the birth of his first son, soon followed by the birth of his second son.

Since joining Royal Northern Sinfonia, James has taken part in numerous tours. A particularly cold one was a February trip to Komatsu in Japan to play Elgar’s Piano Quintet.

James enjoys his free moments and tends to drift in and out of laziness. When feeling more active (at the same time as being allowed) he likes to play golf.

He lives in Low Fell, surrounded by other Royal Northern Sinfonia players and family.

Daniel Hammersley – Principal, Cello

Daniel Hammersley Principal, Cello The Molly Rice Chair Read more

Daniel Hammersley

Principal, Cello

The Molly Rice Chair

James Craig – Sub-Principal, Cello

James Craig joined the cello section of the Sinfonia after completing post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Music London and subsequently having gained a scholarship from Northern Arts studied as far afield as Israel Finland Italy and France. Read more

James Craig

Sub-Principal, Cello

James Craig joined the cello section of Royal Northern Sinfonia after completing post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Music London and subsequently having gained a scholarship from Northern Arts studied as far afield as Israel Finland Italy and France.

He is also the String Studies Leader at Sage Gateshead Weekend School.

Gabriel Waite – Sub-Principal, Cello

Gabriel comes from Chichester in West Sussex. He started learning the cello, aged eleven, with Nigel McNestrie and later Sophie O’Flynn. Read more

Gabriel Waite

Sub-Principal, Cello

Gabriel comes from Chichester in West Sussex. He started learning the cello, aged eleven, with Nigel McNestrie and later Sophie O’Flynn. In 1994 he gained a place to study with Eduardo Vassallo at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In 1999 whilst still at the RNCM Gabriel was a founder member of the Yeomans String Quartet. In 2001 the Quartet made the world premier recording of the String Quartet by Sir Arthur Sullivan and were semi-finalists at the Shostakovich String Quartet competition in Moscow. After living in Glasgow for four years, enjoying a busy freelance career as orchestral and chamber musician, Gabriel joined the cello section of Royal Northern Sinfonia. Gabriel is married to Jane Nossek , a violinist in Royal Northern Sinfonia. They live in Low Fell, Gateshead with their two daughters Maria and Lydia.

Siân Hicks – Principal, Double Bass

Siân Hicks Principal, Double Bass After reading Zoology at the University of Nottingham, Siân went onto complete a postgraduate course at the Royal Northern College of Music under Corin Long. She was awarded the Professional Performance Diploma and ... Read more

Siân Hicks

Principal, Double Bass

After reading Zoology at the University of Nottingham, Siân went onto complete a postgraduate course at the Royal Northern College of Music under Corin Long. She was awarded the Professional Performance Diploma and established herself as a freelance bassist in great demand. She has performed with most of the country’s top orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Hallé, Orchestra of Opera North and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, as well as many chamber ensembles including Composers Ensemble, Kantak, and European Union Chamber Orchestra.

With the Manchester Camerata, she premiered the virtuosic ‘Rondo for 9’ by John Manduel, written to celebrate the life of Ida Carroll, a past figurehead of the double bass. This was made all the more special as she had won the Ida Carroll Award for young bassists several years earlier.

Although she enjoys the large scale orchestral works, Siân’s primary love is the chamber orchestra repertoire and small chamber ensemble works. Thus, in 2006, she joined Royal Northern Sinfonia as co-principal bass at Sage Gateshead, where she continues to enjoy a fulfilling and diverse career.

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Eilidh Gillespie – Principal, Flute

Eilidh joined the flute section of Royal Northern Sinfonia in September 2013. She was previously a member of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and prior to that held the position of Principal Flute with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Read more

Eilidh Gillespie

Principal, Flute

The Rossiter Family Chair

Eilidh joined the flute section of Royal Northern Sinfonia in September 2013. She was previously a member of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and prior to that held the position of Principal Flute with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

Besides her work with RNS, Eilidh enjoys a busy freelance career with other orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe among others. Eilidh also enjoys playing chamber music, appearing regularly in RNS chamber music concerts, and also performing from time to time with Ensemble 10/10 and Ensemble 360.

Eilidh grew up in Chester, and then studied at Edinburgh University, where she gained a first class honours degree in music. She went on to complete her postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London where she studied flute with Simon Channing, Jaime Martin, Celia Chambers and Paul Edmund Davies, piccolo with Stewart McIlwham and baroque flute with Rachel Brown.

Steven Hudson – Section Leader, Oboe

Steven Hudson Section Leader, Oboe The Richardson Family Chair Since his appointment in 2013 as Section Leader Oboe of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Steven Hudson has established himself as one of the UK’s most dynamic and in demand young oboists. R... Read more

Steven Hudson

Section Leader, Oboe

The Richardson Family Chair

Since his appointment in 2013 as Section Leader Oboe of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Steven Hudson has established himself as one of the UK’s most dynamic and in demand young oboists. Recent highlights have included performances of the Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto recorded live for Classic FM and Michael Berkeley’s Oboe Concerto at the Ryedale Festival. He is a regular soloist with the London Concertante and has also appeared with the London Mozart Players.

In a recent performance of the Bach Oboe and Violin Concerto in Edinburgh, The Scotsman described Hudson as ‘wonderfully expressive’ and ‘the combination of oboe and violin was magical, especially as Hudson rolled out what seemed like longer and longer phrases without apparently drawing breath.’ He has also given recitals and chamber performances at Sage Gateshead and across the North East as well as at the BBC Proms. Future solo engagements include performances of John Tavener’s Kaleidoscopes, the Richard Strauss Oboe Concerto with Royal Northern Sinfonia conducted by Clemens Schuldt and chamber music performances with Lars Vogt.

Aside from his commitments with RNS Steven has a busy orchestral schedule and regularly plays guest principal oboe with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, John Wilson Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Steven was born and raised in North Yorkshire and in 2002 accepted an offer to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with both Gordon Hunt and Richard Simpson. He graduated in July 2006 with a First Class Honours Degree and was the winner of the Needlemakers woodwind prize. Whilst still a student he was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra, and in April 2009 was awarded Second Prize at the Barbirolli International Oboe Competition held in the Isle of Man. He went on to study further at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris with David Walter, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music where he graduated with distinction and winner of the RCM oboe prize.

Steven was delighted to accept the offer to become a member of the oboe faculty at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and has also given classes at the Royal College of Music and Sage Gateshead. In his spare time he enjoys singing, going to the theatre and walking the coast of Northumberland.

Michael O'Donnell – Principal, Oboe

Michael O’Donnell Principal, Oboe The Sylvia Fuller Chair Michael O’Donnell was born in Newcastle, but grew up in Perthshire, Scotland. He took up the oboe aged 13 and two years later gained piano and oboe scholarships to attend the Royal... Read more

Michael O’Donnell

Principal, Oboe

The Sylvia Fuller Chair

Michael O’Donnell was born in Newcastle, but grew up in Perthshire, Scotland. He took up the oboe aged 13 and two years later gained piano and oboe scholarships to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Junior Department, studying with Stephen West. During these years he played principal oboe and cor anglais with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and Great Britain. Mike moved to London in 2002 to study with Christopher Cowie and Gareth Hulse at the Royal College of Music as a Foundation Scholar.

Mike graduated from the RCM in 2006 with 1st class honours and whilst at the RCM won the Knights of the Round Table and Wind Chamber Music Prizes.

Mike was appointed 2nd oboe in the Irish Chamber Orchestra in 2010. Prior to this he worked as a freelance oboist in London playing guest 2nd oboe with many orchestras around the country and guest principal oboe with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others.

Mike joined Royal Northern Sinfonia on 2nd oboe and cor anglais in January 2011.

Jessica Lee – Principal Clarinet

Jessica was born in Chichester, West Sussex. She began to learn the clarinet aged nine whilst one of the first girl choristers at Salisbury Cathedral. Read more

Jessica Lee

Principal Clarinet

The Bragg Family Chair

Jessica was born in Chichester, West Sussex. She began to learn the clarinet aged nine whilst one of the first girl choristers at Salisbury Cathedral.

Jessica graduated from the Royal College of Music with a First Class Honours degree in 2004, where she studied with Janet Hilton, Michael Collins and Tim Lines. In 2005, Jessica gained her PGDip with distinction from the RCM where she was the Wilkins-Mackerras scholar and was supported by a full grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

After a busy freelance career in London working with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the London Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jessica joined Royal Northern Sinfonia as Second Clarinet/Principal Bass Clarinet in September 2009.

Stephen Reay – Section Leader, Bassoon

Although Stephen Reay was born in London, both his parents were born on Tyneside and come from a long line of Geordies. Read more

Stephen Reay

Section Leader, Bassoon

The Pyman Family Chair

Although Stephen Reay was born in London, both his parents were born on Tyneside and come from a long line of Geordies. He took up the bassoon when he was fifteen years old and went on to study with Gwydion Brooke at the Royal Academy of Music where he was one of the few bassoonists to win the Academy’s Recital Diploma.

For several years he played guest Principal with the Philharmonia, including performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante at the Royal Festival Hall and recordings with Itzhak Perlman and Giulini of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in 1980.

In 1981 Stephen Reay was made Principal Bassoon with the Sinfonia and has appeared regularly as soloist. In 1986 he gave the first performances of Robin Holloway’s Bassoon Concerto, a Sinfonia commission, later broadcast on the BBC. In 1998 he gave the world première of Judith Bingham’s Bassoon Concerto, another Sinfonia commission.

Recordings include Strauss’ Duet Concertino with Richard Hickox, Martinu’s Sinfonia Concertante with the City of London Sinfonia for Virgin Classics, the first performances of Joseph Horovitz’s Euphonium Concerto arranged for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra with George Malcolm, J C Bach’s Concerto with the Ulster Orchestra and recitals on Radio 3’s Concert Hall.

Stephen continues to make regular guest Principal appearances with the Philharmonia, including a performance of Scheherezade with Gennadi Rozhdestvensky in Madrid and Lisbon and most recently with the London Symphony Orchestra in their Vaughan Williams Series at the Barbican. In 1997 he was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

Robin Kennard – Principal Bassoon

Robin Kennard Principal Bassoon After completing his studies at the Guildhall School of Music, Robin joined the Israel Chamber Orchestra as Principal Bassoon for one season before returning to England to take up the position of Assistant Principal wit... Read more

Robin Kennard

Principal Bassoon

After completing his studies at the Guildhall School of Music, Robin joined the Israel Chamber Orchestra as Principal Bassoon for one season before returning to England to take up the position of Assistant Principal with the Halle at the age of 23.

After 8 years a freelance career in London beckoned during which time he joined the English Chamber Orchestra and was appointed a Professor of Bassoon and Reed-Making at the Royal College of Music. His career in London ranged from work at Glyndebourne for twenty years to Covent Garden as well as working regularly with all of the London Orchestras notably the LSO and LPO and Academy of St Martin in the Fields. The opportunity of joining Royal Northern Sinfonia came unexpectedly and Robin was thrilled to become part of an extremely vibrant and exciting orchestra, not only the only full time chamber orchestra in the country but one with a home-base of Sage Gateshead – the envy of the music profession as a whole.

Robin is married to Julia, a pianist, originally from Stockton on Tees and they have four children.

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Peter Francomb – Section Leader, Horn

Peter Francomb began playing the horn at the age of ten. His early studies were with Ifor James and Ron Harris in London. Early performing experience was gained with the Brighton Youth Orchestra. Read more

Peter Francomb

Section Leader, Horn

The Friends of Royal Northern Sinfonia Chair

Peter Francomb began playing the horn at the age of ten. His early studies were with Ifor James and Ron Harris in London. Early performing experience was gained with the Brighton Youth Orchestra. In 1974, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Douglas Moore. In 1976 at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras, he won the Van Cliburn Foundation Scholarship, which paid for an additional year’s tuition with David Cripps and Tony Halstead at the Guildhall School of Music.

On leaving college, Peter worked for ten years as a freelance player in London, working as guest principal horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academy of St. Martin in the Field. He also worked with the London Symphony, Philharmonia and English National Opera Orchestras. In the field of chamber music, he has worked with the Nash and was a member of the Prometheus Ensemble. For the last 21 years he has been a member of the Albion Ensemble with whom he has made various recordings.

In the field of modern music, he has played with The Fires of London, Music Projects London and Lontano.

In 1988 he was invited to become principal horn of Royal Northern Sinfonia. With them, he has performed all four Mozart concerti, Haydn concerto, both Strauss concerti (no.2 for BBC Radio 3) and Giovanni Punto concerto no.5, also for Radio 3. In 1992 Peter was asked to perform the Punto at the International Horn Convention in Manchester, and he subsequently recorded this and three other concertos for Pan Classics with the Sinfonia.

Peter has worked regularly as guest principal with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and with Opera North.

Peter has performed Brahms Horn Trio with Tasmin Little and Jean Bernard Pommier, Strauss 2 and Haydn’s 1st Concerto with David Haslam and Mozart 4 with Paul McCreesh. In summer 2000, Peter performed Schumann Koncertstuck with Simon Wright, two performances of the Britten Serenade with Mark Padmore and Ian Partridge and Mozart 4 with Richard Hickox.

Richard Martin – Section Leader, Trumpet

Richard Martin has worked with most of the country's leading Orchestras. He studied at the Royal College of Music with Richard Walton and prior to that with William Lang. Read more

Richard Martin

Section Leader, Trumpet

The Alan Johnson Chair

Richard Martin has worked with most of the country’s leading orchestras. He studied at the Royal College of Music with Richard Walton and prior to that with William Lang. He was a member of the English Brass Ensemble for six years and has toured the world extensively with them, including visits to America, Canada, Europe and Asia.

He has been Principal Trumpet of Royal Northern Sinfonia since 1988. During this time Richard has performed many of the great trumpet features with the orchestra, including Bach’s 2nd Brandenberg Concerto, through to the 20th Century.

He started playing in brass banding, and continues to do so. He has made a number of recordings, and the latest is a joint venture with the local Reg Vardy Band to raise funds for The Clarence Adoo Trust.

Marion Craig – Principal, Trumpet

Marion joined Northern Sinfonia officially three years ago, after working with the orchestra regularly for ten years before that. Read more

Marion Craig

Principal, Trumpet

Marion joined Royal Northern Sinfonia officially three years ago, after working with the orchestra regularly for ten years before that. Originally from Eastbourne in Sussex, Marion has lived in the North East for about ten years and loves life here, especially the countryside. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has made recordings at Sage Gateshead with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

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Marney O’Sullivan – Principal, Timpani

Marney O’Sullivan Principal, Timpani The Christine Swales Chair Marney O’Sullivan joined Royal Northern Sinfonia in October 2012. Marney was born in Dublin and freelanced there for several years. Initially intending to be a jazz musician, his cla... Read more

Marney O’Sullivan

Principal, Timpani

The Christine Swales Chair

Marney O’Sullivan joined Royal Northern Sinfonia in October 2012.

Marney was born in Dublin and freelanced there for several years. Initially intending to be a jazz musician, his classical training was limited to private lessons, at first in London; then later in Milan with David Searcy, the legendary timpanist of La Scala.

In 1986 Marney was chosen to be the timpanist of the European Community Youth Orchestra under Claudio Abbado. A four-year stint in the Hallé Orchestra followed before he joined Opera North where he was Principal Timpanist for 22 years.

In the course of the last fifteen years he has been invited as guest principal by virtually all the major orchestras in the UK. He has learned a lot of his craft working with conductors such as Zehetmair, Jurowski, Masur, Norrington, Previn, Haitink and Elder. Engagements have taken him around the world – Glyndebourne, Paris, Reykjavik, New York, Vienna, Moscow – in music ranging from Frankie Valli with the BBC Concert Orchestra to Britten’s War Requiem with the London Philharmonic, from Donizetti with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to Rachmaninov with Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia. His timpani playing can be heard on hundreds of CD and DVD recordings as well as gaming and movie soundtracks.

Marney is co-director of Global Music Foundation whose projects include the Percussion Summer School, the Easter Jazz Festival at Kings Place in London and workshops in Italy, Croatia, Germany, Spain and China.

Marney teaches timpani at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich.