Harvey Davies studied the piano with Helen Davies and David Parkhouse then with Ryszard Bakst at the Royal Northern College of Music. His career as a chamber musician has taken him to four continents and throughout the UK.
With his wife, the ‘cellist Heather Bills, Harvey has founded the Manchester-based chamber group The Pleyel Ensemble. Comprising some of the finest string and wind players in the UK and specialising in British chamber music and lesser-known Classical works the Pleyels run concert series in Chapel-en-le-Frith and Didsbury and have already given more than two hundred concerts since their formation in 2011. They are Making Music featured Artists for 2019/20 for the second time in three years. The Pleyel Ensemble have released the first two of four volumes of Cooke’s chamber music on the MPR label. Most of the works recorded are World Premières. Recent projects have included performing all of Mozart’s works for piano and violin with Sarah Ewins and the complete Haydn piano trios with Sarah and Heather Bills.
Harvey is a Fellow in Historical Performance and a staff pianist at the RNCM. He lives in Manchester with his wife, the cellist Heather Bills, and is currently studying the works of the English composer Arnold Cooke for his PhD.
Harvey has collaborated with many eminent musicians including the Alberni, Benyounes, Callino and Carducci Quartets, Atar Arad, Alison Balsom, James Bowman, Rebecca Evans, James Gilchrist, Tony Halstead, Janet Hilton, Guy Johnston, Jennifer Pike and Elena Urioste and as a freelance player, Harvey has worked with the Hallé Orchestra, RLPO, Manchester Camerata, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Collective and the contemporary music group Ensemble 10/10.
The Davies Duo, Harvey and his mother Helen, have worked together since 1990. They have performed and recorded extensively and commissioned many new works for piano duet as well as rediscovering some of the huge wealth of Classical and early Romantic 4-hand music. Their latest CD, ‘Diversity’, features works written for them by Welsh composers and was received to critical acclaim.
“The powerful symphonic structure of Kenneth Leighton’s Sonata for Four Hands was masterfully revealed in this authoritative performance”
“(The Davies Duo)…a fine reputation for intelligent, sensitive, technically assured and vital performances of a wide range of 20th century repertoire…”
British Music Society News.
“(Diversity) is a superb disc, and world class in terms of production, programme and performance.”
Sarah began playing the violin at the age of ten. She graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1989, and continued her post-graduate studies with David Takeno and Grigory Zhislin.
As well as recording for radio and television, Sarah has given numerous recitals and concerto performances both in this country and abroad. In 1990 Sarah joined Sir Yehudi Menuhin in a performance of Bach’s Three Violin concerto at the Royal Festival Hall. In 2002 Sarah joined the Halle Orchestra as Associate Leader and has appeared as Guest Leader with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Manchester Camerata.
She is Assistant Leader of the English Sinfonia with whom she recently recorded Holst’s Double Violin Concerto. Passionate about chamber music, she is a founder member of the recently-formed and much-acclaimed Halle Soloists and also very much enjoys the work she does with the Education department at the Halle and as violin tutor for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
He was a founder member of the Matisse Piano Quartet and the Music Group of Manchester, broadcasting regularly for the BBC, recording, and undertaking British Council tours and is a member of the Victoria String Quartet whose acclaimed début concert took place in 2017. Also an experienced orchestral leader, he has guest-led many of the UK’s major orchestras, including the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Northern Sinfonia, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble, Orchestra of Opera North and BBC Philharmonic.
Ben has always championed contemporary music, working with composers Harrison Birtwistle, John Casken, Brett Dean, Oliver Knussen, Steven Mackey, Anna Meredith, Mark Simpson and Duncan Ward, and has been Psappha’s violinist since 2010. Personal highlights with Psappha include collaborations with Peter Maxwell Davies, taking Klas Torstensson’s Violin Concerto to a residency at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, premiering Mark Simpson’s chamber opera Pleasure, a tour to Israel of Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King and a recent recording for the BBC of Charlotte Bray’s evocative concerto Caught in Treetops.
Ben has been the leader of chamber orchestra Sinfonia ViVa since 2001 and the orchestra’s Artistic Advisor since 2006, appearing as both director and soloist. Recent solo appearances include works by Beethoven and Schubert, and a performance of Mozart’s A major concerto, broadcast on Classic FM.
Ben teaches at the RNCM, where he was awarded a professorship in 2016, Junior RNCM, and Chetham’s School of Music. He gives consultative classes in orchestral and contemporary techniques at Birmingham and Trinity Laban Conservatoires and professional development classes for string teachers throughout the UK. He plays on a rare violin by Rogeri of 1710.
Catherine Yates began her musical studies with Marion Hillier before going on to study the violin with Malcolm Layfield and Lydia Mordkovich at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Further training included courses at Yale University and at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies at Aldeburgh. In 1989, Catherine became a member of the Sorrel Quartet, performing extensively both at home and abroad, broadcasting regularly on BBC Radio and holding Artists-in-Residence positions at six of Britain’s major universities. The Quartet built up a sizeable discography through their association with Chandos Records, a collaboration which resulted in many critically acclaimed discs, most notably the complete cycle of Shostakovich Quartets and major works of Britten and Elgar.
Catherine combined quartet life with a busy freelance performing and teaching career before taking up the post of Principal Second Violin with the Halle in September 2007. Whilst relishing the challenges of symphony orchestra life, she still enjoys recitals around the country as both violinist and viola player, coaching on various chamber music and orchestral courses, including the National Youth Orchestra, and teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Born in England, Susie studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School. She is a professor at both the Royal College of Music and Royal Northern College of Music, was a tutor at the Yehudi Menuhin School and is currently a tutor at the Purcell School. She was for several years principal viola with the Camerata Academica Salzburg, as well as a regular chamber music partner of her teacher, violinist Sandor Vegh.
In 1977, Ms. Mészáros made her Wigmore Hall debut in a duo with Yehudi Menuhin and performed the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Vladimir Spivakov and Arthur Grumiaux. She won the Gold Medal at the Royal Overseas League competition and was a string finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year.
Ms. Mészáros was also co-founder of the Villiers Piano Quartet and concert master of Kent Opera for several years, as well as leader of several chamber groups including the Fitzwilliam Quartet and the Katin Trio with pianist Peter Katin. She has performed solo widely and made regular appearances on BBC Radio 3. She was guest principal for several London orchestras including Philharmonia Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Britten Sinfonia and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Heather was born in Adelaide, South Australia and came to the UK on a scholarship to take up studies at the Royal College of Music in London, studying with Christopher Bunting & Amaryllis Fleming, during which time she won the Australia Prize of the Royal Overseas League Competition and prizes for chamber music at the RCM. She participated in solo and chamber music courses with such esteemed musicians as William Pleeth, Jacqueline du Pre, Ralph Kirshbaum and Emmanuel Hurwitz in Banff, Dartington, Prussia Cove, Monterosso & Perugia respectively, where her love for chamber music was firmly established.
Heather was the co-Principal cellist of the Hallé Orchestra from ’83-’90 before moving to Anglesey. She has been Principal cellist of the chamber group Ensemble Cymru and of the Welsh Chamber Orchestra for over twenty years. In 1996 she spent a year in Australia as Guest Principal of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. In 2008 she returned to Manchester & re-established a busy freelance career working with the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Northern Chamber Orchestra and Opera North. Heather also loves teaching and is a member of staff in the music departments at Junior RNCM, Manchester University and Manchester Grammar School. With her husband, pianist Harvey Davies, she founded and co-directs the Pleyel Ensemble, an exciting chamber group based in Manchester.
Michael Escreet was born in Scunthorpe but at the age of three the family moved into a bus which his father parked in a field somewhere in Leicestershire. He came to music through singing in the local church choir, and after his voice broke took up the double bass in order to remain involved in music-making.
After reading music at the university of York Michael took a job in the BBC Training orchestra, and a year and a half later became a member of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, where he was promoted to the no 2 seat after a week in the job. In 1997 he became principal bass in the BBC Philharmonic, from which he retired 10 years later, in order to do more period instrument playing. Whilst at the BBC he also played as guest principal with chamber orchestras such as SCO, Manchester Camerata, and Northern Camber Orchestra, and throughout his career he has endeavoured to play as much chamber music as possible, playing with the Legrand ensemble and the Goldberg Ensemble, of which he was a founding member. More recently, he as been invited to play with Ensemble Cymru. Highlights of his career include playing the obligato bass part in Mozart’s “per questa bella mano” in a live broadcast of a 4 hour concert celebrating 250 years since the composer’s birth in 2006.
Jonathan Rimmer studied at the RNCM, was a finalist in the Shell LSO Competition and in 1990 won the woodwind section of BBC Young Musician of the Year.
As a soloist he has toured twice with the European Community Chamber Orchestra and in America at venues such as the Lincoln Centre, Time Warner Centre and the United Nations, New York. He has performed in many festivals including City of London Festival, Chichester Festivities, and extensively throughout the UK.
Jonathan is a founder member and Principal flute with the ground breaking Ensemble Cymru with whom he has worked for nearly twenty years, during which time he has premiered many new works and been closely involved with furthering the Ensemble’s position as the leading light of Welsh chamber music.
Jonathan has broadcast for national radio and television and toured the Middle East, USA, and Mexico where he was also invited to be tutor at the Mexican International Flute Festival.
She has performed as soloist at many festivals including Edinburgh, Aldeburgh and Cheltenham and abroad at the Holland, Aarhus, and Oslo Festivals. She has given many recitals and is frequently heard on BBC Radio 3.
Over the years several works have been written for Melinda, including Music for Mel and Nora for oboe and piano by Simon Bainbridge, Nicholas Maw’s Little Concert for oboe and chamber orchestra, Sir Harrison Birtwistle Pulse Sampler for oboe and claves, and 26 Orpheus Elegies for oboe, harp, and counter-tenor, Simon Holt has written Banshee for oboe and percussion, Sphinx for cor anglais and tuned gongs, Disparate for solo oboe which she premiered in October 2008 and was the first piece to launch the festival celebrating the opening of London’s new King’s Place concert hall, and Disparate Dos for oboe and ensemble which she premiered in June 2009 at King’s Place to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Endymion Ensemble. Other composers who have written for her include Howard Skempton, Anthony Gilbert, Robert Saxton, Jo Kondo, Philip Cashian, David Knotts, Wilfred Mellers and Larry Goves.
Melinda is also an accomplished composer, among her pieces are Pibroch and Song for Sidney for solo oboe, a work for double-reed ensemble, Crane Dance, written for the RNCM Woodwind Day in October 2008, and various ensemble pieces with strings. A new work Singla Rock for mixed quintet was premiered at King’s Place June 2009.
She has made many recordings and a recent solo CD Melinda Maxwell in Manchester: Music for Oboe from the RNCM, released on Dutton Recordings in 2007, was CD of the month for BBC Music magazine. Her most recent CD features the first recording for Oboe Classics of Birtwistle’s 26 Orpheus Elegies and his arrangement of Three Bach Arias released in 2009 and awarded the top rating in the Guardian and BBC Music Magazine.
In addition to her work as a chamber musician and recitalist, she is principal oboe of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Endymion Ensemble and the improvisation group Notes Inegales and also performs regularly as principal with the London Sinfonietta, and for film sessions with the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
She has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College in London and has been giving master-classes at the Dartington International Summer School since 1992. She also coaches at the Britten-Pears and National Youth Orchestra summer courses. She is Consultant in Woodwind Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
In 2007 Melinda went to Uganda as part of a four person London Sinfonietta team to discover the sounds of ancient rock gongs on the island of Lolui in Lake Victoria. The composer Nigel Osborne who also took part wrote a new solo work for her and her two colleagues and five Ugandan musicians, which was premiered at the opening of the new King’s Place Concert Hall in London October 2008.
During a distinguished international career as a leading British clarinettist, after studies in Manchester and Vienna, Janet Hilton has appeared with most major British orchestras, at festivals including Edinburgh, Cheltenham and the BBC Promenade Concerts, and in many European countries, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Janet has created a substantial discography, having recorded much of the clarinet repertoire for Chandos, with other CDs on the EMI, BBC, ASV and Clarinet Classics labels. Her recorded repertoire includes all the clarinet works by Weber, the Sonatas and Quintet by Brahms, the Mozart Quintet and Kegelstatt Trio, the Clarinet Quintet by Sir Arthur Bliss and other chamber works and music for clarinet and piano, concertos by Nielsen, Copland, Stanford, Malcolm Arnold, Finzi and four contemporary British concertos that were composed for her.
She had a long association on record and in the concert hall with the Lindsay String Quartet and has also recorded with Peter Frankl, Nobuko Imai and Keith Swallow, and among orchestras, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Neeme Jarvi, Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Mathias Bamert, the Ulster Orchestra with Vernon Handley, Bournemouth Sinfonietta with Norman del Mar and BBC Scottish Symphony with Rumon Gamba. Naxos has published her recording of the three clarinet sonatas by Max Reger with pianist Jakob Fichert and her latest recording in 2016 is Flying Solo, a programme of music for unaccompanied clarinet, on the Clarinet and Saxophone Classics label.
In 1998, ABC Classic FM in Australia devoted a programme to Janet Hilton’s recordings in its series Great Performers .
Also a leading international teacher, Janet Hilton was Head of Woodwind and professor of clarinet at the Birmingham Conservatoire and then for 12 years at the Royal College of Music, stepping down in 2010, although she continues to teach there. This year she is making her third visit to Australia for masterclasses in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Other recent tours have taken her to Singapore and Hong Kong, in Europe to Paris, Vienna, Poland and Norway and, regularly to the University of North Carolina and other American universities. She has been a juror on international competitions in England, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Canada.
Laurence Perkins has become one of Britain’s best-known solo bassoonists through his concert performances and numerous solo and orchestral recordings on CD. His solo recitals in the UK have included the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room in London, Dartington International Summer School, and live broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM, as well as recitals and concertos in several European countries. He was Principal Bassoonist with Manchester Camerata from 1974 to 2017, with whom he recorded concertos by Mozart and Weber conducted by Douglas Boyd (for Hyperion) which received a five-star rating in the BBC Music Magazine, with the Mozart Concerto being a top recommendation on BBC Radio 3’s Record Review programme. Laurence is a bassoon tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and his educational work has included major national and international projects promoting the bassoon to young musicians, He is also heavily involved in working with amateur musicians, working as a bassoon and chamber music tutor at many summer schools and courses in the UK and overseas, including a series of Wind Serenades courses at Higham Hall in the English Lake District, and at Cubertou in the south of France. He has also tutored at courses in Malvern, Aberystwyth, Sherborne, Dartington, Alston Hall in Lancashire, Kammermusik in Oxford. His other activities include musical relaxation sessions with cancer patients and landscape photography.
Laurence Davies has recently left the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra having joined as their Principal Horn in June 2008. He previously held the same position with the Philharmonia Orchestra for 10 years. In both of these positions and as guest principal with the L.S.O., L.P.O. and C.B.S.O he has worked with many of the world’s leading musicians in the most prestigious concert halls at home and abroad. During this time Laurence has also been invited to perform as concerto soloist most notably in Mozart’s 4th horn concerto which he played in the Dennis Brain 50th anniversary memorial concert conducted by Barry Tuckwell with the Philharmonia and for a live Mozart DVD with the RPO. He is also one of the soloists on the celebrated Deutsche Grammophon recording of Schumann’s Konzertstuck for four horns and orchestra with Christian Thielemann and the Philharmonia. Laurence has also enjoyed performing Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with several of the UK’s most renowned tenors including Philip Langridge, Ian Partridge, Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore and Charles Daniel.
In addition to orchestral playing Laurence is an experienced chamber musician performing both with the RPO and Philharmonia’s own ensembles and with established groups such as the Nash Ensemble, London Winds, the Razumovsky Ensemble and the Britten Sinfonia. In 2006 Laurence was invited by Charles Dutoit and Chantal Juillet to become part of an international faculty of leading players from Canada, the USA and Europe establishing new summer music academies in China and South Korea. In this time the faculty has enjoyed introducing challenging orchestral and chamber music repertoire to young professionals chosen from the host country.
Laurence has also been busy on the London studio scene over the last 20 years and can be heard on a great many film and TV scores from Willow up until most recently Goodbye Christopher Robin and Avengers: Infinity War.
Laurence also has a BA in archaeology and classical studies and runs a tour company called Oldbury Tours from his home in Wiltshire.