Strings


Bjorn Bantock - Head of Strings

Bjorn enjoys a varied musical career as performer, teacher and conductor. He has performed in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, China, South Africa, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Russia, Malta, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Bjorn is regularly invited to give master classes at the London Cello Society, the Open Strings Festival in Denmark, the European String Teachers Association, the ASKOV International Summer School, the International String Festival in Malta, the University of Cape Town, the London Piano Masters and Pro Corda. Bjorn is principal conductor for the Clare Memory Orchestra, St Albans Symphony Orchestra and the London Chamber Strings. Bjorn has won numerous prizes, bursaries and scholarships including first prize in the Sir John Barbirolli competition, RNCM Contemporary Music Performance Prize, Best String Player award at the Conservatoire of Stellenbosch and the RNCM and the Anton Hartman Conducting Bursary. He has performed as cello soloist with the Cape Town Symphony, the Natal Philharmonic and the RNCM Symphony Orchestras.

Emily Holland - Violin

Emily Holland, from Staffordshire, studied violin at the Royal Northern College of Music with Benedict Holland and Maciej Rakowski. She is a founding member of the Benyounes Quartet with whom she went on to study in Geneva with Gabor Takacs-Nagy. The quartet performs widely in the UK and Europe, previous concerts include Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus and Verbier Festival. They held the Junior Fellowship at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for two years and are currently resident in Bangor University. Emily also plays with the Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Sinfonia Viva and London Contemporary Orchestra. Emily has taught violin and piano for many years and currently teaches musicianship at ‘Young Music Makers’ in Highgate, London.

Elizabeth Guest - Violin

Elizabeth studied at the Royal Academy of Music where she studied violin with Howard Davis and Diana Cummings, and piano with Fiona Cameron gaining an LRAM on both instruments. Whilst there she formed L’invitri string quartet which has performed at numerous engagements in this country and abroad. Elizabeth has performed with many different orchestras and chamber ensembles including English National Ballet and the RPO. Her teaching career has taken her as far afield as the International School of South Africa and St Catherine’s School, Richmond, Virginia, USA. In addition to Bedford School, Elizabeth also teaches at St John’s College School, Cambridge.

Erica Grajner de Sa – Violin

Erica studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Howard Davis and studied chamber music with Sidney Griller and the Alberni String Quartet. She has enjoyed a very versatile freelance career in classical music performing with many of the London orchestras, chamber orchestras and chamber groups touring extensively in the UK and abroad.Erica's passion is in chamber music and education and in addition to teaching at Bedford School she also teaches the violin and coaches chamber groups at the junior department of The Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded an ARAM by the Academy in 2016. Erica often adjudicates at National festivals and music competition.

Dorothy Williams – Violin

Dorothy Williams attended Norwich High School, gaining her ATCL while still at school. She read Music at the University of Southampton. She taught class music at St Anneʼs Convent School, Southampton. She played violin with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Bournemouth Sinfonietta before coming to Bedford where she has taught violin and viola at Bedford High School and Bedford School. She plays in several local orchestras and tutors regularly on Bedfordshire Youth Orchestra and Chamber Music courses.

Melissa Favell-Wright – Double Bass

Melissa studied at Colchester Institute and the Royal College of Music with double bass professor Tony Hougham. She lived in London for many years, teaching at several schools, coaching youth orchestras and building up her performing career. Melissa regularly performs with the Royal Opera House Orchestra, English National Ballet, City of London Sinfonia, Britten Sinfonia, London Concert Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, English National Opera, BBC Symphony Orchestra and recording sessions with COOL Music. Melissa also teaches at Bedford Girls’ School.

Simon Davies – Guitar

Simon Davies studied at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music before receiving his Honours Degree at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester . Performing in The Arada Guitar Duo , their 2008 release for Landor Records, ‘Mediterranean’ received glowing reviews from publications such as International Record Review and Gramophone magazine. The duo has also performed on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM and in some of the country’s finest chamber music venues. Performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company “band”, Simon has most recently appeared in the West End run of “Romeo and Juliet” and the critically acclaimed “Venus & Adonis”. As a soloist, Simon has represented the UK in the European Young Musicians’ Concert , in 2011, performed at the London International Guitar Festival and has played for the King of Norway and the Spanish Prime Minister. He is a featured classical artist on Cunard’s “3 Queens” (QM2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth). Simon examines internationally for Trinity grade and diploma exams and is an examiner for AQA ‘A-level’ music performance.

David Merrin - Guitar

David Merrin studied with Bill Granderson and Gilbert Biberian at Trinity College of Music, London. He went on to become an International Luthier and in 2008 was selected ‘Luthier of the Year’ by Jose and Liam Romaillos. He is curator and carer for Granary Guitars, a large collection of historic guitars in the UK and in 2010 was commissioned to record the album ‘The Sound of Spain’ for which he played 19 guitars from the collection. David has performed on various DVD’s and was the guitar coach on the film ‘Bride and Prejudice’. David also teaches at The Berkshire Musicians Trust; Musicale, Harpenden; Westbrook Hay, Herts and Stormont, Herts.

Alex Munk – Electric Guitar

Increasingly in demand as a guitarist on the London jazz scene, Alex Munk has performed alongside musicians such as Stan Sulzmann, Iain Ballamy and Nick Smart, at venues such as The Vortex, 606 Club and Ronnie Scott’s. Graduating with distinction from the prestigious jazz programme at the Royal Academy of Music in 2011, he has won a number of awards including the Yamaha Jazz Scholarship. Alex is also an experienced teacher and is well versed in a variety of styles including jazz, pop and rock guitar techniques, and has completed a number of commissions as a composer. www.alexmunk.com

Bethan Gillard - Harp

Bethan Gillard started playing the harp from the age of six. She had twelve years of private lessons with Thelma Owen. In this time she also took part in competitions in and around London, and masterclasses with harpists such as Skaila Kanga and David Watkins. Bethan then went on to study the harp at Trinity College of Music, where she studied with Sioned Williams and Gabriella Dall'olio. Here she took part in orchestral, chamber and solo concerts, as well as Operas. As well as a degree in Music, Bethan also gained the LTCL qualification while studying at Trinity. Bethan is now busy building her career, teaching, playing at functions, and taking part in orchestral concerts. She also worked as the resident harpist on Cunard's Queen Victoria in 2012. She has been the harp teacher for Hertfordshire Music Service since February 2011. Bethan has done work playing in hospices, residential homes for the elderly, and hospitals such as Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Brass & Percussion


James Bennett – Trumpet

Jim Bennett was a pupil at Bedford School before gaining a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music. He has worked as a conductor and tutor for the Bedfordshire Youth Music Service, and as Musical Director for a number of theatre companies and bands. He has played with various orchestras including the Chiesa Consort, the Senesino Players and the London International Orchestra of Academia, and as a soloist with the Luton Symphony Orchestra. Jim also has a keen interest in jazz, and leads and writes for his quartet and regularly plays with the Bell Street Jazz Band and Blue Chip.

Gary Smith – French Horn

Gary Smith began playing the horn at the age of 13 and subsequently studied in Manchester and Berlin. After completing his studies, Gary played with many of the UK’s major orchestras, including the BBC SO, RPO and Philharmonia. He has also worked in the West End in a number of shows including ‘Oliver’ and ‘Miss Saigon’ and can be heard on a number of commercial recordings with artists such as Kylie Minogue and Chris de Burgh. He has also taught at the former Dame Alice Harpur School for Girls and the City of London School for Girls.

Les Arnold – Drum kit

Les Arnold has been teaching drums and percussion privately for many years. In 2001 he started teaching for the County Music Service as a peripatetic teacher going to schools all over the County, percussion teacher at Leighton Buzzard Saturday Music School and tutor for the County Third Band. He was very proud to tutor the band on 2 occasions leading to performances at The Royal Albert Hall. Since 2004 Les has been teaching at Dame Alice Harpur School, Bedford High School for Girls and Bedford Girls’ School and he started as the drum teacher at Bedford School in 2006.

Chris Ridley – Percussion

Chris Ridley studied at Bedford School after which he gained a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, during which time he was also Principal Timpanist of the Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchestra. After a few years of freelancing with the major Symphony Orchestras in London and Opera Houses in Italy, he became the Timpanist of the Orchestra of Teatro La Scala, Milan. In 2008, Chris joined the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, as Timpanist. He has also tutored with Beds County Youth Orchestras and has taught at the conservatoires in London and Milan.

Woodwind


Malcolm Green – Head of Woodwind

Malcolm Green was educated at the Royal Academy of Music, where he gained a First Class degree and the prize for the best student on the course, together with the award of the Recital Diploma on clarinet, the Academy's highest performance award. He has played in the English National Opera and Ulster Orchestras and given recitals in the Purcell Room and at the Harrogate Festival, as well as at many Music Clubs. He was appointed Head of Woodwind at Bedford School in 1986 and has also taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Anglia University. Malcolm is a former Chairman of the Bedfordshire Orchestral Society and is currently the Vice Chairman and woodwind advisor to the Bedfordshire Music Festival. He is an Adjudicator member of the British Federation of Festivals and a former Edexcel examiner. Former pupils include Alastair Cook, the England Test batsman, and Al Murray, the Pub Landlord!

Philippa Bennett – Flute

Philippa studied the flute with Richard Taylor at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After her degree she completed a post-graduate music teaching course at Trent Park, Middlesex Polytechnic since which she has worked as a peripatetic music teacher in Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire coaching and training young people in both orchestral and chamber music groups. She combines her teaching with free-lance playing and recital work.

Hilary Palmer – Oboe

A Fellow of Trinity College of Music, Hilary made her London debut on the South Bank in 1993. Hilary is principal oboe and soloist for the Foundation Philharmonic, giving concerto performances for Classic FM and has played specially commissioned solo performances with Sir George Martin. Her solo work has also taken her all over the world in a cabaret duo where she pushed the boundaries of the oboe repertoire to help popularise this fabulous instrument. Hilary teaches in a number of schools including the Perse School and Bedford Girls’ School. Many students have gone on to attain scholarships, prizes and bursaries around the country.

David Rix – Clarinet

David has held teaching positions at the King's school Canterbury, Wandsworth Boy's School, for whose choir Benjamin Britten wrote several works, Alleyn's School and currently Oakham. Throughout this time he has been solo clarinettist for Richard Hickox with whom he recorded all of Britten's operas including Peter Grimes, which won a Grammy. David has performed with all the London Orchestras and been involved in two hundred or so commercial recordings. He is a regular guest at the BBC Concert Orchestra which usefully fulfills his love of lighter styles including recent appearances with Kylie Minogue and Andrea Bocelli.

Patricia Babbington – Bassoon

Patricia Babbington graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music where she studied bassoon and piano. Following this she gained a postgraduate class teaching qualification at Bulmershe College of Education, Reading. Her teaching career began as Head of Music at Woodside Middle School, Bedford from 1979-1992 and as bassoon teacher at Bedford Modern School. She is currently teaching class music at Goldington Academy, bassoon and piano at Bedford Modern School and piano for Bedford Borough. Patricia played bassoon for Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra for many years and currently plays bassoon in Bedford Sinfonia.

Andy Hamilton – Saxophone

Andy studied saxophone with Robert Thompson in Glasgow. He has had a successful and varied career as a freelance musician, working in many different areas of Music. When based in London he worked as a session musician on many jingles and films. He has also worked and recorded with artists such as Paul Mcartney, Joe Cocker, Roger Daltrey, Lulu, Heather Small and Patrizio Buanne. He spent some time out of the UK recording and touring the world with Canadian singer Corey Hart. He has also worked with some of the great soul singers such as Sam Moore, Martha Reeves, Jimmy Ruffin and William Bell. He has worked with jazz artists Dianne Reeves, Jim Mullen and Dick Morrisey and plays in several big bands in the local area, he is also a member of the London based saxophone quartet Saxafrass. Andy has been a teacher of saxophone and flute for over twenty years. With his writing partner Mathew Winch, Andy has written music for TV programmes, Victorian Farm, Victorian Pharmacy, Edwardian Farm, Venice 24/7 , View my Past, Wartime Farm and Meet The Romans and has recently finished Tudor Abbey Farm and Pilgrimage, they are currently finishing work on The Castle to be shown soon on BBC.

Anthony Doherty – Bagpipes

Anthony Doherty started piping at 9 years old with the University of Luton Pipe Band. He is now a member of Inveraray and District Pipe Band, based in Scotland, and performed with them on their way to 2nd place in the World Pipe Band Championships in 2014. He has been teaching bagpipes for over 12 years, has worked at summer schools and carried out workshops in Belgium, Australia and South Africa. He has recorded with Robin Gibb, played and appeared in Bollywood films and also played alongside Sir Paul McCartney at the 02 arena in London in 2009.

Piano

Robert Thompson - Head of Piano

Robert Thompson studied piano at Chetham’s School of Music with Peter Lawson, at the Royal Northern College of Music with Carole Presland and Alexander Melnikov and went on to complete his Master’s with Peter Frankl at Yale University where he was awarded the Charles S. Miller prize for outstanding work. As a member of the Rhodes Piano Trio (2003-2013) Robert was selected by YCAT in 2010 and in 2011 they won 2nd Prize at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. He has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, the Barbican, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore and performed in Festivals such as Aldeburgh, Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schwetzinger. Robert regularly collaborates with instrumentalists such as violinists Ben Baker, Bartosz Woroch and Thomas Gould, cellist Philip Higham and Trombonist Peter Moore. He has recorded for Naxos and Champs Hill records.
Richard Heyes – Piano

Richard Heyes studied piano with Alexander Kelly at the Royal Academy of Music and Tatiana Nicolaieva at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He was Organ Scholar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Richard was Head of Keyboard here at Bedford School for 26 years and now has returned to teach piano which he also teaches at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. He is Regional Organiser for the European Piano Teachers Association, joint representative for Trinity Guildhall examinations and Director of Music at Newport Pagnell Parish Church. Richard also conducts a number of local choirs and works regularly as an accompanist.
Nikki Iles – Jazz Piano

As a founder member of the Creative Jazz Orchestra, Nikki worked with Vince Mendoza, Anthony Braxton, Mike Gibbs, and Mark Anthony Turnage. Although well known as a pianist, she is an active composer with several nominations from the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Award and commissions from a string of professional orchestras including the London Sinfonietta. With a parallel career as a widely respected teacher, Nikki is Professor of piano in the Jazz department at the Royal Academy of Music and The Guildhall School of Music and Drama as well as giving workshops and master classes all around the world. A committed educator, she has been a driving force behind the Jazz syllabus at the ABRSM.
Grace Mo - Piano

Grace Mo studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and University of British Columbia; where she held the Artist Diploma and the Master of Music in Piano Performance. She has won prestigious awards, notably the Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellowship, Guildhall Piano Fellowship and Myra Hess Award. As a soloist, Grace has performed extensively and appeared at the Barbican, Concertgebouw and Mozarteum Saal. She has also performed at the Fringe and Aldeburgh Festival. Grace is equally in demand as a chamber musician. Her collaborative work has recently won her the prize of ‘The Best Concertmaster’ in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Marina Nadiradze – Piano

Marina Nadiradze studied at the State Conservatoire in Tbilisi, Georgia, where her teachers included Veka Svanidze and Tengiz Amirejibi. She has won a number of international awards including 1st Prize in the highly prestigious LASMO Staffa Award in 2000 and 2nd Prize and the Lawrence Glover Silver Medal at the Scottish International Piano Competition in 2001. She went on to postgraduate study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Since then, she has gone on to pursue her flourishing solo career in many countries of the world, including recent outstanding performances in France, Austria, Korea and Switzerland.
Margaret Theodore – Piano

Margaret Theodore studied piano, accompaniment and clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Her career as a piano teacher began whilst still a student and she has taught privately and in a variety of schools and colleges ever since. She has worked as an examiner for the Associated Board and currently teaches at the Latymer Saturday Music Centre in Edmonton and Charles Edward Brooke School in Lambeth. In addition to the LRAM and ARCM diplomas, Margaret has a BA degree from the Open University.
David Williams - Piano

After a school education in the Netherlands David Williams read German and Music at the University of Southampton. After a further year working for a Certificate in Education he started his career teaching languages at Bournemouth School. In 1974 he moved to Bedford where he taught at Bedford High School for girls until 2008. As Director of Music of the Junior School he had a special interest in choir training, competing in national choir festivals and recording regularly for the BBC radio for schools programmes. He organized senior choir trips to Berlin, the Rhineland and Bratislava. He is much in demand as a piano accompanist and organist.
Hanja Bantock - Piano

Hanja Bantock was awarded a Masters Degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where she studied with Gordon Back and Graham Johnson. As an accompanist, Hanja has been involved with the Junior Wieniawski Violin Competition, the Lake District Music Festival, the Oxford Cello School, the Abingdon Summer School for Singers, Chetham’s School of Music and the International String Festival in Malta. Hanja previously studied with Arbo Valdma at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne and she was sponsored by German Radio to participate in a recorded concert tour of Belgium, Slovenia and Germany. She has given chamber music recitals at the Opera Houses in Bonn and Stuttgart. Hanja won the Hennie Joubert National Piano Competition, the Trustbank National Music Competition (Piano Category) and the SABC Mozart Ensemble Competition. She regularly performs as a concerto soloist, most recently in April 2013 with the St Albans Symphony Orchestra.
Ben Comeau – Organ

Ben Comeau is a freelance musician based in London, where he divides his time between organ, piano, composition and jazz; he recently graduated top of his year in music with a starred first from Girton College, Cambridge University. He has performed keyboard concertos by Bach, Mozart, Gershwin and Poulenc, and his solo repertoire on both organ and piano focusses particularly on Bach and on contemporary repertoire. He is very interested in non-European classical styles of music, and in crossing stylistic boundaries. In particular he is increasingly in demand as a jazz pianist in London and Cambridge, and improvisation forms a very large part of his work.

Voice


Simon Berridge

Simon Berridge studied Music at Trinity College Cambridge where he was also awarded a choral scholarship. Subsequently he received his PGCE in Music from The Institute of Education, London University. He then completed Post Graduate Studies in Singing at The Royal College of Music. Whilst studying there he was a Lay Clerk at St. Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle. He then went on to be a member of the BBC Singers. For over 25 years he has been a Member of The Sixteen and has also sung and recorded with many other world renouned choral ensembles. He has been teaching Singing for over 25 years and was Head of Singing for Hertfordshire Music Service and Assistant Head of Service for Milton Keynes Music Service. He has taught at numerous schools including Haileybury College and at Warwick University.

Carol Lesley-Green

Carol Lesley-Green was educated at Dame Alice Harpur School, then gained a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. Carol has performed as soprano soloist in most major concert venues and with many opera companies including Welsh National Opera, The Royal Opera House, Munich State Opera, Glyndebourne Opera and in London’s West End. Carol was a founder member of Bedfordshire Youth Opera and Youth Choir, founder/director of Whizz Kids Music Workshop Company and founder/director of Heart of England Opera, incorporating ‘WorkshOpera,’ for 17 years. Carol was previously Head of Music at both Milton Keynes Preparatory and Broughton Manor Preparatory Schools.

Composition


Emma-Ruth Richards - Composition

Emma-Ruth Richards studied at Cardiff University and then at the RNCM and privately with Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr, HK Gruber, Judith Weir, and in seminars with Pierre Boulez and Oliver Knussen. She completed her PhD in 2014 and is a member of the Chetham’s International Summer School Faculty. She has been commissioned by the London Sinfonietta, LSO, Opera North, Philharmonia, Håkan Hardenberger, Colin Currie, Nicholas Daniel, Paul Silverthorne, & the Navarra Quartet amongst others. Emma-Ruth is currently writing a chamber opera for the Royal Opera House and Nordland Teater, Norway with director Natalie Abrahami and librettist Nicola Chalmers.