Maxine Willis flute
A wind finalist in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition, Maxine read English at Brasenose College Oxford, followed by two years of postgraduate study at the Royal College of Music having received an award from the Countess of Munster Musical trust. She has given recitals at St James Piccadilly, Union Chapel Islington, and the October Gallery WC1, and performed concertos both in England and France. Maxine plays with Welsh National Opera and Kokoro (contemporary ensemble of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) and has appeared with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic.
Gwenllian Davies oboe
Gwenllian comes from Pembrokeshire and read music at Jesus College, Oxford before undertaking two years of postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music and the GSMD with scholarships from the Countess of Munster Trust, Myra Hess Trust, the Arts Council of Wales and a Ryan Davies Memorial Award. She has worked as 1st oboe for the Kwazulu Natal Philharmonic, South Africa, 2nd oboe/cor anglais of Teatro Marrucino Opera Orchestra, Italy and now freelances with the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Guildford Philharmonic and RTE Concert Orchestra. Last year she was also the oboe tutor of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq. She lives in Chertsey, Surrey.
Andrew Mason clarinet
Andrew studied at the Royal College of Music as a Foundation Scholar with Colin Bradbury, Janet Hilton, Robert Hill and Michael Harris, winning the Frederick Thurston Clarinet Prize and the Roger Fallows Memorial Prize. He has performed on Radio Three for the BBC Proms Composer Portrait series and in 2002 made his Purcell Room debut for the Park Lane Group’s New Year series. In March 2003 he made his debut at the Wigmore Hall. Andrew has played for the Northern Sinfonia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the International Bachakademie Festival Orchestra.
Whilst driving home from a performance, Andrew is most likely to be singing loudly to rather cheap 80’s pop music. www.andrewmasonclarinettist.co.uk
Helen Shillito horn
Helen studied at the Royal College of Music with Julian Baker, Tim Brown and natural horn with Susan Dent winning the Arthur Somervell prize and Manns prize and graduating with a BMus(Hons) degree and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Performance - Solo and Ensemble Recitalist. She also attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, studying with Adam Friedrich. As a freelance orchestral musician she plays regularly on both modern and period instruments for the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, the Northern Sinfonia, English Philharmonic, L'Orchestra des Champs Elysees, and Europa Galante. Helen recently completed a two year course in Saintes, France, receiving a Masters’ Degree with Distinction in the Interpretation of Classical and Romantic repertoire on the natural horn.
Stuart Russell bassoon
Stuart graduated with 1st Class Honours from the Royal Academy of Music where he studied with Gareth Newman and David Chatterton, and was awarded several music prizes including the Nicholas Blake Woodwind Prize. He continued his training under Meyrick Alexander and Gordon Laing on the post graduate course in orchestral training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After completing his studies in 2004 Stuart successfully auditioned for co-principal bassoon of Southbank Sinfonia with which he toured the UK and was given the opportunity to perform the John Williams bassoon concerto "The Five Sacred Trees" at St John's Church in Waterloo. Stuart enjoys a varied freelance career of chamber, orchestral and opera performances and performs and records bassoon and contra-bassoon regularly with many leading British orchestras including Welsh National Opera, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and the City of London Sinfonia. . In addition to his performance career, Stuart is the professor of bassoon reed making at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity College of Music and runs his own reed making business supplying many other professional players and music shops.
Joanna Smith piano
Joanna studied at the RCM with Ruth Gerald, David Ward, Chris Wellington and clarinet with Colin Courtney. She graduated in 1997 with a First Class Honours degree, after which an award from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, and a Senior Exhibition allowed her to continue studying at the R.C.M. for two further years, leading to Postgraduate Diplomas which she passed with Distinction. Joanna specialises as an accompanist and has worked in this role for master classes with Roger Vignoles, Steven Isserlis, Gervase de Peyer, Philip Langridge, Benjamin Zander, Nicholas Daniel, David Theodore and Sarah Walker. Some of her recent performances include concerts in Chicago, Vancouver, Bologna, Paris, Edinburgh, Isle of Wight and many venues around England.
John Reid piano
John Reid is a pianist of notable versatility and range, with wide experience as an outstanding chamber musician, song accompanist, soloist and exponent of new music. A regular visitor to festivals and music clubs across the UK, in recital he has worked with artists including singers Joan Rodgers, Dame Felicity Lott, Nicholas Mulroy and Diana Moore; instrumentalists Thomas Gould, Alexander Baillie, Alison Balsom, Jennifer Pike, Timothy Orpen and William Bennett; also with groups including the Barbirolli Quartet, the Emanuel Ensemble and the Britten Sinfonia in addition to the Aurora Ensemble. He has given recitals at the major London venues, Bridgewater Hall, The Sage Gateshead, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and across Europe. He has recorded numerous times for Radio 3, and recent and forthcoming releases include trios with the Emanuel Ensemble (Champs Hill Records) and premiere recordings of music by York Bowen (works for two pianos, with Michael Dussek for Dutton Epoch), Clifford Benson, Rhian Samuel and Charles Camillieri. John studied at Clare College, Cambridge and at the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Dussek. He was a recipient of the Gerald Moore Award and the Kathleen Ferrier and Maggie Teyte Pianist Prizes, and he is now an Associate of the RAM. www.johnreidpiano.com
Eleri Darkins harp
Eleri has won numerous prizes at the National Eisteddfod and the Nansi Richards and John Weston Thomas Scholarships. She studied with Elinor Bennett before going to Trinity College of Music, London to study with Sioned Williams. Recently Eleri has performed with BBCNOW and ESO. She also plays the Welsh Triple Harp.