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This was our programme of Concerts



Chris Swann     clarinet​

Helen Peller​     bassoon

Paul Janes         piano


Saturday, 28th September 2013


Cosy Hall



Chris Swann (clarinet)    studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he won the Geoffrey Hawkes Prize for clarinet playing and was awarded the Alexander Roller Prize for Piano Playing, subsequently spending twelve years as a clarinettist and saxophonist in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Chris resigned his position with the RLPO in order to pursue a varied freelance career, playing Principal Clarinet with the BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Hallé, Ulster, Scottish Chamber, Manchester Concert, National Symphony and Sinfonia ViVA Orchestras.

He has made a number of concerto appearances including performances of Glazunov’s Saxophone Concerto, Debussy's Rhapsodie for Saxophone and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the RLPO, and he has toured as soloist with the Mozart Festival Orchestra (in Manchester, Dublin, Leicester and The Barbican in London) as well as performing the Finzi, Copland and Weber Clarinet Concertos other solo works with a number of other professional orchestras.
In December 1992 he was appointed Acting Orchestra Manager with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, taking up the full-time position in April 1993, relinquishing it in August 1995 to become Head of Woodwind at Shrewsbury School, a part-time post which he successfully combined with a busy schedule of regular playing engagements. In July 1998 he joined the Royal Northern College of Music as Tutor in Clarinet and Eb Clarinet.
As well as directing his nationally recognised ensemble ZEPHYR Chris has also performed chamber music with the Maggini, Allegri and Alberni String Quartets and a wide variety of repertoire with members of Northern Chamber Orchestra the RLPO’s Ensemble 10:10 and Camerata Ensemble of Manchester.
This work, combined with examining for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (graded and diploma), external examining for universities, coaching, conducting and presenting master-classes allows him little time for leisure interests which include activities such as cycling, motorcycling and studying the contents of wine bottles.

Helen Peller (bassoon)    pursues her career in music in education and as a freelance bassoonist. The flexibility and variety this affords is both favourable and rewarding.
She held a full-time orchestral post for 12 years with the Hallé Orchestra. This job commenced after completing four years study with a variety of tutors at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was awarded several prestigious scholarships for this purpose. Whilst at the Guildhall Helen played in the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra and the European Community Youth Orchestra as well as the London Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras. The list of ensembles she has played with since is now so extensive that it would be simpler to note the omissions!
In her formative years Helen was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and was fortunate to have been awarded a County Music Exhibition enabling her to study with the eminent professors Charles Cracknell and Edward Warren.
The present day sees performing a Mahler or Shostakovich symphony being a rarity. Instead, as well as the odd orchestral outing, Helen relishes the opportunity to explore the smaller more intimate chamber music repertoire amongst friends thus being available for the school run, church meetings, chutney/costume/jam/dinner making, gym visits and the rest of her life.

Paul Janes (piano)   studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and at Manchester University, where he received top awards at both institutions, gaining a First Class Honours degree in 1989 and a Professional Performance Diploma with Distinction in 1991. He has also been awarded major scholarships and prizes in national and international competitions, including Countess of Munster and Ian Fleming awards, 2nd prize at the 1988 Dudley competition, 1st prize at the 1991 Redditch competition and a finalist’s prize at the 1990 Casagrande competition in Terni, Italy.
Paul is one of the UK’s most versatile pianists, appearing in a multitude of performing roles, from soloist in recitals and concertos, through chamber music and accompaniment, to contemporary ensemble and orchestral work. He has appeared at major festivals and venues including Cheltenham Festival, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall (Manchester), Symphony Hall (Birmingham) and the Royal Concert Hall (Glasgow). As concerto soloist he has worked with conductors such as Yan Pascal Tortelier, Richard Hickox, Martyn Brabbins and Barry Wordsworth. In 1997he recorded his debut recital for BBC Radio 3. For several years Paul has worked regularly with the BBC Philharmonic, frequently appearing in major solo keyboard parts, including Stravinsky’s Petrouchka at the 1995 Proms, described by the press as ‘brilliant’, and in several works by Percy Grainger, recorded for CD by Chandos. Recently he took part as a solo pianist in Opera North’s production of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, and joined contemporary group Psappha for their appearance at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival. As a chamber musician, Paul has worked with many outstanding instrumentalists, including a long-standing duo partnership with cellist Rebecca Gilliver, winning a Tunnell Trust award in 1995 which resulted in major concert tours in Scotland. He partnered Rebecca’s successful bid for the Pierre Fournier award and subsequent Wigmore Hall debut, and together they were prize-winners at the inaugural Jacqueline Du Pre Duo Competition.
Since 1994 Paul has been a member of staff at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he teaches Piano, Keyboard Skills and Chamber Music, and he also works regularly for the ABRSM as examiner and Professional Development mentor, travelling internationally on a regular basis to countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Indonesia.

Alicia Chaffey

Saturday, 19th October 2013


Cosy Hall



Alicia gained a place at the Royal College of Music Junior Department to study piano and violin after auditioning at the age of nine. Since then she has won several awards and competition prizes including the Robert Lewin Scholarship (AYM), first prize in the Hatfield and District Music Festival Romantic Piano Class and second prizes in the Peter Lambourne Youth Bursary competition and the Purley and Couldson Music Festival Piano Concerto Class. Whilst studying a Bachelor of Music Degree at Royal Holloway University of London, she was twice winner of the annual Concerto Competition held by the Music Department. Having recently graduated from Royal Holloway, she was awarded the Dame Felicity Lott Bursary, a competitive-based award given to promising young musicians pursuing a career in performance.

Alicia has given solo piano recitals at Southwark Cathedral, the Purcell Room, the Amaryllis Flemming Concerto Hall at the RCM, and St. John Smith’s Square. Most recent performances include several concerto engagements with the Royal Holloway University of London Philharmonic Orchestra – the Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell and two performances of Grieg’s Piano Concerto that took place at Royal Holloway and at St. John Smith’s Square, marking Alicia’s London concerto debut. She is also a keen violinist and holds an ABRSM Diploma in Violin Performance and is a member of Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra, conducted by Peter Stark. At the current time, she is giving a number of recitals around the UK this autumn in preparation for her auditions to study a Masters in Piano Performance at one of the four London conservatoires.

​​​Julian Vickers and Daniel Bovey 

Classical guitar duo

Saturday, 22nd November 2013

7.45 pm

Cosy Hall



 Julian Vickers and Daniel Bovey are both currently studying at Birmingham Conservatoire in their third year, under the tuition of Mark Ashford. Both are individual winners of the Birmingham Conservatoire Guitar Prize, and as a duo have recently won the Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music Competition, the Derek Young Memorial Award, and were finalists in the Birmingham Town Hall/ Symphony Hall Prize. They have been performing as a guitar duo since 2010, and have an avid interest in new and contemporary music, frequently performing new works. Past concerts have included recitals with soprano Iuno Connolly and a tour of ’36 Views of Mount Fuji’, a collection of 36 short pieces written for them by Ryan Probert. Future performances include recitals for Winchester Guitar Festival, Birmingham Chamber Music Society and the premiere of a new duo concerto composed by Paul Norman.


 Programme Notes for the Concert:


Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) – Grandi Variazioni Concertante

Giuliani was, by all accounts, a true virtuoso. Born in South Italy, he made his name in Vienna where countless reviews praised his ‘agility, control and delicacy’ and his ‘musical perfection’. Giuliani contributed a vast amount to the guitar’s repertoire; his complete works span 39 volumes and still form a large part of a guitarist’s concert and competition
repertoire. Grandi Variazioni Concertante contains a quasi-operatic introductory passage followed by the theme and its six subsequent variations.

Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013) – Promenade I
Stephen Dodgson, who passed away earlier this year, was a distinguished composer for the guitar, having produced the largest number of solo guitar works by any one non-guitarist composer, alongside many chamber works including the guitar. In a varied career also including professorship at the Royal College of Music, presenting radio and television
broadcasts and writing essays and reviews in many musical publications, Dodgson worked closely with some of the greatest modern guitarists including Julian Bream, John Williams and the Eden-Stell guitar duo. Dodgson’s musical style is independent of the 20th century trends of avant-garde, serialist or minimalist music, he was influenced highly by composers including Domenico Scarlatti and Janacek.

Dodgson wrote:
Promenade I pictures the two players at a seaside resort, taking an afternoon stroll. They set out full of joy and energy, sunlight dazzling over the water, and soon come upon an aviary. Resuming the promenade, a sheltered spot is reached with an inviting seat in the sun. But the peace is abruptly shattered by a dogfight, which causes the promenaders to move on hurriedly, the dogs barking at their heels. Happily, another peaceful and inviting seat is found, but repose this time is interrupted by a sudden sea-mist, dark at first but dazzling later. In the stillness, distant echoes of an old-world merry-go-round can just be made out. The homeward walk brings it in full view, its sounds harmonising with the evening sun.

Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) – Sonata in B Minor K87 (trans. M. Eden)
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757) – Sonata in D Minor K141 (trans. S. Abreu)

Born in Naples in 1685, Domenico was the sixth of the ten children of the eminent Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti. Domenico was primarily taught keyboard by his father, who was maestro di cappella to the Spanish viceroy, giving his first public concert in 1701. In 1709, whilst living in Rome, Domenico found himself competing in a keyboard contest
against Handel, where he was declared the better harpsichordist, with Handel being declared the better organist. Scarlatti is best known for his 555 keyboard sonatas; we will be playing K87 in B Minor, and K141, a Toccata in D Minor.

André Jolivet (1905-1974) -


Sérénade pour Deux Guitares
Praeludio y Canzona

 Allegro Trepidante
Con Malinconico
Con Allegria

Sérénade pour Deux Guitares was written in 1956 for the highly esteemed French guitar duo, Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya. Jolivet’s interest in ancient music and the music of other cultures is shown throughout the piece; all movements have a very obvious jazz influence, and the ideas of African drumming can be heard with many intricate rhythms
continually passed between guitars.


Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999) –


Allegro ma non Troppo
Minueto Pomposo
Allegro vivace

Joaquin Rodrigo was born on St. Cecilia’s day, the patron saint of music, on November the 22nd 1901. He is famed as the composer of the Concierto de Aranjuez, by far the most well known piece written for the guitar, despite the fact that he was not a guitarist himself. Rodrigo composed in a style which he called Neocasticismo, a style that combines influences from Spanish folk music- including flamenco- and the renaissance, baroque and classical eras. The Tonadilla was a popular form of theatrical song of a satirical nature in the 18th century. Both the Concierto de Aranjuez and the Tonadilla are exemplary works of Neocasticismo, although on first hearing the opening of the Tonadilla sounds remarkably
different to the concerto. After the mechanical first movement, which features many of Rodrigo’s signature clashing minor seconds, the remaining two movements reveal lyricism and humour more distinctive of the sound commonly associated with Rodrigo’s music.

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) – Tango Suite

Founder of the “Nuevo Tango”, Argentinean born Piazzolla became a musically controversial figure in his native land, before his reworking of the tango was embraced in Europe and North America. Piazzolla’s three movement Tango Suite was composed for the breath-taking Brazilian guitar duo of Sergio & Odair Assad in 1983. The Assad’s initially arranged one of Piazzolla’s pieces, Escolaso, for guitar duo and performed it to the composer at a dinner party in Paris in October 1983. Later that year the duo were taken by surprise when, back in Brazil, they received the score for the now famous Tango Suite.

​​​​​Classic Rhythm

 Saturday, 25th January 2014

7.45 pm

Cosy Hall


CLASSIC RHYTHM is a unique and highly popular trio for flute, piano and percussion which has met with astonishing success, playing to sell-out audiences at almost 300 festivals, music clubs and venues throughout the U.K. as well as abroad. Skilful arrangements of  classical favourites, set alongside original and jazz-inspired works, are complemented by the warm informality of the group on stage. Audiences are always fascinated by the vast array of instruments, some familiar, some not! From marimba to tam-tam, from piccolo to cabasa, they are all brilliantly woven into a sparkling evening’s entertainment. Recent engagements have included the Purcell Room and St. David’s Hall, with the group also broadcasting its unique concert repertoire live on Classic FM. The three players all studied at the R.A.M. and were prizewinners in their various fields. Between them they have performed at all the major concert venues in the UK, as well as travelling further afield to Africa, the Far East, the U.S.A., Australasia and all parts of Europe.

The Players

Helen studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where she gained the Recital  Diploma (the Academy’s highest award for performance), together with many prizes for solo playing, ensemble work and baroque performance. She has played in most of the country’s  top venues as well as abroad, and has performed in West End shows and featured on  Classic FM and on BBC Radio, as well as performing throughout the British Isles. She also specializes in teaching flute and recorder to blind and visually impaired students.

Adrian’s work has ranged from recitals in Eastern Europe and New Zealand to frequent performances at the Royal Opera House, London. A versatile performer, he has played in  West End Shows such as ‘The Lion King’, whilst his compositions and arrangements have  been featured on Classic FM, BBC television and at Sadler’s Wells. He has worked with many leading dancers such as Wayne Sleep and Tamara Rojo, and as an examiner for ABRSM he  has toured China, Turkey, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cyprus, U.S.A., India, Bermuda and the  Far East.

Chris is an adventurous performer with a taste for the eclectic. He is a founder member  of leading contemporary percussion group ensemble bash, performs in cabaret with his  show ‘The Brannick Academy’, and he also acts, composes and arranges. He has played with many leading UK orchestras and toured for several years as Principal Percussionist with Glyndebourne Touring Opera. He holds both maths and music degrees, is a professor of percussion at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

​​​​​Sebastian Stanley


Saturday, 15th February 2014

7.45 pm

Cosy Hall



Sebastian Stanley, the young and critically acclaimed British pianist has given recitals in all reaches of the globe. Since graduating from the Royal College of Music (RCM) in 2008 his career has gone from strength to strength with his performances receiving rave reviews. The critics have described him as ‘a rare talent’, ‘destined for the greatest concert halls’ having ‘exquisitely sensitive playing’ and showing ‘astounding virtuosity’. Along with his solo recital and chamber music activities with the talented clarinettist Jonathan Parkin, he enjoys performing on cruise liners throughout the world as a classical soloist. He has enjoyed much success in the UK in particular, where he has performed in well over 100 venues to date and is now managed by Ellison & Stromsholm Artists. His expansive solo and concerto repertoire ranges from works by Scarlatti and Bach to Tchaikovsky, Liszt, Busoni and Da Falla.

Sebastian was a late starter to the world of the piano, and music in general; having had his first lessons aged 13. After the astonishing progress Sebastian made in his initial two years of study, he gained a place at the RCM where he had the help of the esteemed professors Emily Jeffrey, Niel Immelman, Kathron Sturrock and Ruth Nye. Most recently the renowned teacher and competition adjudicator Christopher Elton has become his mentor. He has also received master class tuition from piano legends such as Menahem Pressler, Claude Frank, Gary Graffman, Olga Kern, John Lill, Joanna MacGregor and Stephen Kovacevich.

Winner of several international prizes including the coveted Chappell Gold Medal at the RCM (top award at the conservatoire for piano playing), and 1st Prize in the International Hindemith competition in Germany, Sebastian is making an impact on the competition circuit. He has broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Intune and Breakfast shows, Celtic Music Radio, and has been signed by the Spanish label EMEC Discos for a 4-year period after showing particular talents for the Spanish classical genre. His second disc released in 2013 ‘Granados - The complete Dances and Goyescas’ is receiving critical praise. Information about his upcoming engagements and past concerts can be found on where you can also sign up to his mailing list

Mercian Piano Trio

Beate Toyka,   piano

Clair Stanley,   violin

Peter Wilson,  cello

Saturday, 29th March 2014

7.45 pm

Cosy Hall


The Mercian Piano Trio is one of the Midlands’ most vibrant and energetic classical music groups to have emerged in the last years. It has a distinctive international flair:

The pianist is versatile Beate Toyka from Germany, known here and abroad amongst others for her Chopin Marathons in 2010 and complete performances of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier. She was trained in Cologne Conservatoire as well as the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she studied with Hamish Milne.

Violinist is Clair Stanley, who studied in America with Emanuel Hurwitz. She has played with the Orchestra of the Swan, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the BBC Philharmonic, the Halle and Northern Sinfonia. She has also performed alongside Gil Shaham and Itzak Perlman.

Cellist Peter Wilson studied at the Royal College of Music with Anna Shuttleworth where he won several awards.He plays Principal Cello with the Darwin Ensemble and most recently took part in a Classic FM full concert broadcast. As a solo cellist he was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and has recorded solo cello on feature films. His last film, called ‘F’, was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and is on general release DVD.

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