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Juan Ortuño ~ Musical Director and Conductor
Spanish conductor Juan Ortuño is a Masters graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music where he studied with Clark Rundell and Mark Shanahan.
Juan is developing an exciting career in the UK where he has worked with professional orchestras such as the Manchester Camerata, the Royal Scottish Nationa Orchestra, and the Sappha Ensemble. He has also worked across Europe with the Kammerphilharmonie Graz, and Orquestra Simfònica del Vallés among others. Recently he was finalist in the “Luigi Mancinelli” International Opera Conducting Competition in Orvieto.
Juan also enjoys working in projects with companies such as Pint Sized Opera or Classical Revolution, who aim to bring opera and classical music to new audiences in informal locations like pubs.
He started music lessons in Madrid with his parents. Both were performers in the Spanish National Radio and Television Choir. His first ambition was Astrophysics in which he obtained a Bachelors Degree. At the same time, he was studying voice, piano, and violin. He then decided to focus on a career in music and earned degrees in Orchestral and Choral conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid.
During this time he has attended several conducting master classes with Benjamin Zander, George Hurst, Martyn Brabbins, and Antoni Ros-Marbà, and has received feedback from Sir Mark Elder and Juanjo Mena. In 2006, he was selected to take part in the young conductors’ project of the Spanish Youth Orchestra (Joven Orquesta Nacional de España) and since then has continued working with them as guest conductor in concert tours. Juan also has been awarded with a scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to continue further studies in the UK.
Marco Bellasi ~ Guest Conductor
Marco Bellasi has studied violin, composition and conducting at the Conservatoire Giuseppe Verdi of Milan and has graduated with a Masters degree in conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
He has just been appointed as the new Junior-Fellow conductor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester; the panel for his Junior-Fellow audition included Sir Mark Elder CBE. Next year he is going to have Masterclasses with Sir Mark Elder and a session with him and the Hallé Orchestra.
Marco has been selected as active participant to the 2013 Orkney conducting course organized within the St. Magnus Festival in Kirkwall (Scotland) with teacher Martyn Brabbins and where he conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
He participated as active participant in the Masterclass of the Accademia Chigiana of Siena with Gianluigi Gelmetti and the Sofia Festival Orchestra in 2010. He also has participated as an active participant to the Järvi Academy summer Academy 2012 with Neeme Järvi, Parvo Järvi and Leonid Grin winning the prize from Pärnu City orchestra as the Orchestra’s favourite.Marco made his debut conducting a full stage production of Puccini's La Boheme at the final concert of the lyric opera laboratory at the Conservatoire of Milan with the Orchestra UECO of Milan obtaining good reviews from the critic Lorenzo Arruga in the national Italian magazine ‘Panorama’. His repertoire includes symphonic, opera and contemporary music. He has conducted Steve Reich’s Eight lines with the RNCM New Ensemble in the presence of the composer in the RNCM Theatre in Manchester. He has collaborated as a conductor with the well known tango group ‘Tango Astillero’ from Buenos Aires and with the famous British Jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth.
After graduating in conducting with a bachelor’s degree in 2007 from the conservatoire of Milan he was accepted in the conducting Masters course in the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where he studied two years under the guidance of teachers Clark Rundell and Mark Heron.
He also had lessons from visiting teachers such as Mark Shanahan, Gary Walker, Paul Mann and Jac Van Steen. He graduated with distinction and in his final recital he conducted a concert with Manchester Camerata. He has conducted the Stockport Symphony Orchestra in a programme that included Beethoven’s symphony No.5.
Marco’s musical preparation also includes a bachelor’s degree in violin in the conservatoire of Milan, playing in orchestras such as the ‘Orchestra Nuova Cameristica’ of Milan and the ‘Orchestra Filarmonica del Conservatorio G. Verdi’. He has studied composition with teachers such as Luca Francesconi and Fabio Vacchi. He has also worked as a free-lance lyrical singer and has sung also numerous times as a soloist in the Auditorium Giuseppe Verdi of Milan in the concert season of the ensemble ‘La Verdi Barocca’ conducted by Ruben Jais. He has sung the role of Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia of Rossini in the ‘Teatro Piccolo’ of Brescia. He sang as a member of a small chamber choir, ‘Il canto di Orfeo’ for a production of the contemporary opera ‘A Dog’s Heart’ by A. Raskatov in the Teatro Alla Scala of Milan in 2013, the production was conducted by Martyn Brabbins and stage direction was by Simon McBurney.
John Resek ~ Orchestra Leader
John Resek was a founder member of the New BBC Orchestra in Bristol, where he received chamber music tuition from members of the world-famous Amadeus String Quartet. There followed a spell playing with violinist Max Jaffa before John settled down as a member of the BBC Philharmonic for many years, travelling as far afield as Brazil and Hong Kong and playing with leading international artists such as Solti, Menuhin and Rostropovich. John left the BBC Philharmonic some time ago to freelance and devote more time to solo playing and chamber music.
John has been leader of the Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra for a number of years, and has made a significant difference to the playing skills of the orchestra.
Olivia Doflein ~ Violinist
Olivia Doflein, born in the Netherlands, moved to London in 2009 to study at the Royal College of Music, where she completed her Bachelor as well as her Master degree with First Class honours as a pupil of Natalia Lomeiko, with generous support of a.o. the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Stichting Niemeijer Fonds.
She was crowned winner of the Young Soloist Award 14/15 by the Goois Symfonie Orkest in the Netherlands, and has won first prizes at the Brighton & Hove Music Festival, North London Festival, the Marlow Music Festival, Hatfield & District Music Festival in London and at the Mozart di Terni Festival in Italy. She has participated in masterclasses with a.o. Zakhar Bron, Shlomo Mintz, Gordan Nicolic, Alina Ibragimova and Pavel Vernikov and was chosen to participate in the Crans-Montana Classics masterclass by Shlomo Mintz in 2015.
She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across England and the Netherlands at such prestigious venues as Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven, Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall. She has a busy concerto schedule and the season of 14/15 saw her professional debut with De Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra in the UK, performing Prokofiev’s 2nd violin concerto, as well as her German debut in May with the Brahms concerto.
Her orchestral activities include performing at the Royal Albert Hall as the co-concert mistress of the English Chamber Orchestra, and in the RCM Symphony Orchestra under Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Edward Gardner, Vladimir Jurowski and John Wilson.
As a versatile musician, she also has a great interest in singing and the choir she was leading in the Netherlands, Giocoso, achieved prizes at the Florilege Vocal de Tours in France, was triple winner of the National Choir Festival in the Netherlands, and received a national award for the best CD recording in the Netherlands in 2011 and won 3rd prize in the Llangollen International Music Festival 2013 competition in Wales.
Olivia plays the J. Cuypers violin (1797) kindly on loan from the Dutch National Music Instrument Foundation (NMF).
Alla Petrichei ~ Violinist
Born in 1994, violinist Alla Petrichei began her studies in Romania at the ‘George Georgescu’ Music School in Tulcea and then at the ‘Octav Bancila’ Special Music School in Iasi. In 2011, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend St Peter’s School in York where she studied with Nia Lewis. Alla is currently a scholar at the Royal Northern College of Music in her third year studying with Leland Chen.
As a soloist, Alla has performed internationally in the UK, USA, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, in concert venues such as the Leeds Town Hall, the Sage Gateshead and the ‘Mozarteum’ Universitat in Salzburg. Her competition achievements include the St Peter’s Music Award and the Farnham ‘Young Musician of the Year’ Award. Alla has also participated in masterclasses with Jack Liebeck, Remus Azoitei, Ben Holland and Sherban Lupu. She has featured on Romanian National Television on several occasions and has played in the prestigious ‘George Enescu’ International Music Festival, Bucharest.
As a member of several chamber groups touring internationally, Alla has recently had the honour of being invited to perform with her duo at the Romanian Consulate in Odessa, Ukraine. She has had considerable orchestral experience and has participated in a masterclass with French conductor Olivier Robe. She has performed in the Leeds Town Hall as leader of the St Peter’s School Symphony Orchestra and with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra at the Cantiere Internazionale d'arte Festival in Montepulciano, Italy.
Lorna Rushton ~ Soprano
Lorna is from Bolton. Her love of singing started at an early age when she used to join in with her dad’s Pavarotti LPs. She started lessons around the age of 17 and 2 years later was offered a place at the RNCM.
As well as performing the lead roles in many of the college operas including: Titania (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro) and Carolina (Il Matrimonio Segreto) Lorna also won many of the college’s singing prizes and had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s greatest singers:
Renata Scotto, Sherrill Milnes, Adele Leigh and a week of masterclasses with Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge in Aldeburgh.
After graduating she continued her studies spending a year in London at the National Opera Studio.
She has worked for many UK companies performing such roles as Madama Butterfly, Violetta (La Traviata), Rosalinda (Die Fledermaus) Hanna Glawari (The Merry Widow) and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni)
and the title role in Norma. In November 2013, she sang the role of Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s opera
for COMO, which earned her a NODA award nomination. Her singing career has taken her to many places
including a whistle stop coach tour around Spain singing Mozart, La Traviata in Barbados, La Boheme in a French vineyard and Rossini at Sir William Walton’s estate in Ischia.
Lorna has an extensive concert and oratorio repertoire and has worked with the Northern Sinfonia and the Hallé Orchestra among others performing everything from Mahler symphonies to Northumbrian folk songs.
She enjoys taking workshops and also teaches.
Emily McArthur has been playing woodwind instruments since she was 8 years old, when she started learning the recorder.
She rapidly progressed to flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet and the whole family of both sax and recorder. Emily has recently taken up learning the bassoon, upon which she is teaching herself, as she successfully taught herself clarinet.
Emily excels in all the woodwind instruments, having gained Distinctions at Grade 8 ABRSM exams in alto sax, baritone sax, oboe, flute, recorder and clarinet. Emily has also gained a Distinction at Grade 8 Jazz on alto sax.
She is currently studying sax at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester;
Emily plays with many bands and orchestras on a regular basis. She has a large amount of ensemble experience, having played in a wide variety of ensembles of all sizes in Manchester and throughout the North West.
She has also played a concerto with her regular orchestra, Gorton Philharmonic. Emily is equally at home playing both classical and jazz music, in which she is adept.
After studying classical guitar, piano, jazz guitar and composition at Chetham's School of Music for seven years, eighteen year old Alexandra Whittingham now studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Having picked up the guitar when she was just five years old, Alexandra's father taught her the basics of the instrument before she went on to begin formal lessons.
During her time at Chetham's, Alexandra had many opportunities to play with various ensembles, such as a string quartet, guitar duets and jazz groups, which resulted in her becoming a member of Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra.
In the spring of 2013, she won the Edinburgh Guitar Competition. Following this, Alexandra travelled to Budapest to take part in the Carpathian International Youth Guitar Competition, where she gained second place. More recently in early 2015 at the Gregynog Young Musicians' Competition, Alexandra became Gregynog Young Guitarist of the year after her performance of Leo Brouwer's Sonata and Sevilla by Isaac Albeniz.
Having been invited to open the European Guitar Teachers' Association Conference, Alexandra performed alongside her colleagues from Chetham's School of Music in both duet and solo capacities.
Other venues in which Alexandra has played include Leeds College of Music (as part of Leeds International Concert Season), The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, The Yehudi Menuhin School and West Dene International Guitar Festival (as part of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble) and the British Embassy in Paris, where she performed to an invited audience of diplomats in February 2015.
A new guitar programme shown on Sky Arts this year, highlighting all four genres (classical, jazz, acoustic and rock), featured Alexandra performing her way to the classical final of the competition, which gave her the opportunity to play in Milton Court Concert Hall at the Barbican, London. During the course of the competition, Alexandra was able to work with Miloš Karadaglić, who, in recent years, has taken the classical guitar world by storm. Alexandra plays one of only three hundred Antonio Sanchez 2500 guitars.
Born in Nottingham, England, Emily attended a specialist school for music where she was awarded the Elizabeth Nall Music Prize. She continued her vocal studies at the University of York with Lynne Dawson and graduated with a BA (Hons) in 2011. She is currently training at the Royal Northern College of Music with Nicholas Powell after receiving the Dame Isobel Baillie Performance Award for Vocal and Opera Studies. She performed in the UK première of Narcisus & Echo by Djordjevic in 2011 and performs in numerous solo recitals with a variety of repertoire. Her roles include Maddalena from Rigoletto (2014 scenes), Mrs Quickly in Falstaff (2014 scenes), Geneviève Pelleas et Melisande (2013 scenes), Second Lady in The Magic Flute by Mozart (2011), Mercedes from Carmen (2010 scenes) and Mother Jeanne in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites (2008). She recently performed in the Leeds Lieder Festival with a new piece 'Forgotten Memory' (2013) by Katie Chatburn. With the same composer she also worked on a collaboration to win the Rosamund Prize in 2013. She has performed many new works in both the RNCM Concert Hall and the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall and in Contemporary Music Festivals by composers such as James Whittle and Nelson Bohorquez Castro. Emily also has a strong interest in Latin American and Spanish song, including art song, Argentine tango music and the traditional pasillo.
The Corallia Duo was formed in 2003 by Fiona Slominska (flute) and Louise Thomson (harp) whilst both were studying at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. They have performed extensively throughout the United Kingdom in recitals, private functions and corporate events. The music they perform is diverse and exciting, displaying their instruments' unusual and impressive abilities.
Fiona was a music scholar at Uppingham School, Rutland and studied the flute at RNCM with Peter Lloyd. She won the Geoffrey Gilbert Flute Prize and was a finalist in the Granada Prize, performing Ravel's Chanson Madecasses. In her final year, Fiona was awarded the RNCM's Diploma in Professional Performance, completing her studies with a B.Sc (1st class Hons) degree. She made her professional debut with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and has also worked with the Halle Orchestra. She is now the flute tutor on the National Schools Symphony Orchestra course and teaches at Uppingham and Oundle Schools.
Louise studied at Chethams School of Music, Manchester with Eira Lynn Jones and in her final year won the Ida Carroll String Prize. She continued to study with Eira Lynn Jones whilst at the RNCM and in 2003, was awarded 1st place at the Open Harp Finals of the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales. In January 2005, Louise made her professional debut with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Louise graduated from the RNCM with a First Class Honours in her Bachelor of Music degree. She performs regularly as a member of the Corallia Duo as well as solo recitals.
Andrew Hodkinson ~ Guest Conductor
Andrew studied Viola and Piano at the Royal College of Music under Bernard Shore and Hilda Klein and studied conducting with John Russell and Sir Adrian Boult, gaining an ARCM and GRSM. He played viola for the Festival Ballet Orchestra and later joined the Iceland Chamber Music Players.
After taking a post-graduate teaching diploma, Andrew taught violin and viola in the North of England and then in the Midlands, also free-lancing as an orchestral viola player, and conductor including Songs of Praise and Sunday Half Hour for the BBC. For 21 years, he was on the staff of the National Children's Orchestra as viola tutor and as one of the assistant conductors.
Andrew has now retired from the Staffordshire Performing Arts where he was Co-ordinator for the County Music School and staff mentor. Apart from conducting and free-lance playing, he is a Learning Advisor for the Musicians Union, a Trustee for Peak District Music Centres and a very active grandfather, leaving little time for his hobbies of gardening, cooking and car mechanics
Frank studied the violin with Rudolph Botta from the age of twelve. After taking a degree in History and a research degree in American Studies at Manchester University, he began a career in lecturing. He is currently Head of American Studies at Liverpool Hope University College. Frank plays in theatre shows and chamber groups and frequently helps at orchestral concerts throughout the North-West region. He was appointed Leader of the Manchester Beethoven Orchestra in 1991 and is now their Musical Director. Up to 2004, Frank was Sub-leader of the Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra.
Oliver Nelson was born in Glasgow and began learning the violin at the age of six. He gained scholarships to both Canford School and the Royal Academy of Music. During his time at the Academy, Oliver studied the violin with Xue-Wei and conducting with Denise Ham and appeared as leader and soloist with the Academy String Orchestra. His achievements include winning the Academy Concerto Competition, the Winifred Small Violin Competition and the building of his concerto repertoire with the Christchurch Sinfonia, Da Vinci Ensemble, Dorset Youth Orchestra and Gli Amici della Musica. He is now in high demand as a recitalist with Peter Croser and Roy Stratford and soloist with such orchestras as the Amaretti Ensemble, Dorking Philharmonia,, Dorset Chamber Orchestra, Hertford Symphony Orchestra, High Peak Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Beethoven Orchestra, Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra and the Winchester Symphony Orchestra. His recent engagements have included Dvorak and Bach concertos in Woking and Stockport respectively and Mozart’s 3rd and 5th concertos with the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in Muscat, Oman. Oliver teaches the violin at Hindhead Music Centre in Surrey.
Lenny Sayers was born in Bradford in 1977 and studied music at York University, followed by a post-graduate course at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester under the tuition of Barry Gregson and Nicholas Cox. Whilst at RNCM, Lenny achieved the prestigious Professional Performance Diploma, as well as a Post Graduate Diploma and a Master's degree in performance, all with distinction. In June 2001, he was a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year and performed with the BBC Concert Orchestra in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Lenny has been a freelance clarinet player since September 2001 and has performed with the Hallé Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Manchester Camerata. He is also a member of the Fell Clarinet Quartet who frequently perform as part of Live Music Now! bringing music to sections of the community, such as special schools and adult day-centres, who would not otherwise experience it.
Simpson was born in
In the 1990s Simpson earned a living as a criminal lawyer, composing in
his spare time, but quit to be a professional musician on moving back to
In 2005 his Symphony No. 2 was
recorded by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and broadcast on Radio 3. His piece for the Fell Clarinet Quartet, Mardale
Changes, has been performed at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and in
Scotland. He is now working on a 3rd symphony. Scheduled for 2007 were two
performances of his oratorio Recreation, recently nominated for the British Composer awards. He has conducted the Gorton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Halifax Symphony
Stephen Threlfall, the Society's President, began his conducting career when asked to conduct Weill's Threepenny Opera for the Manchester Youth Theatre. Following this, he was a participant in the European Conductors' Seminar in 1985 and also in the prestigious Leeds Conducting Competition in 1991. A graduate of the RNCM he was, for a number of years, sub principal cello with the BBC Philharmonic, having also played with many of this country's leading orchestras.
Stephen has held a number of conducting posts with both orchestras and choirs and has performed extensively throughout the UK and Europe. He is currently principal conductor of Cordial Company Opera, the Philharmonic Chamber Strings and, until recently, of the Hemsted Forest Youth Orchestra. His wide variety of guest engagements has included ensembles such as the BBC Philharmonic, the Northern Symphony, Lakeland Sinfonietta, Isle of Wight, Liverpool Concert and Maidstone Symphony Orchestras. He was a staff member of the orchestral training programme at Trinity College of Music, London and has conducted in France, the Netherlands and Germany.
Stephen has organised many charity concerts with both large and small ensembles. These have included concerts for the RNLI, Papworth Hospital, local hospices throughout the country and a major concert in 1992 in aid of the British Heart Foundation, when he brought together players from the top orchestras in England. He has also organised choral weekends, competitions for young players and the highly successful Benenden Music Festival.
Stephen became Director of Music at Chetham's School of Music in September 1995 and subsequently has conducted performances of Handel's Messiah for Crisis in December 1995 and 1996, both of which were broadcast nationally by Classic FM and raised over £100,000 for the charity. The 1995 concert was made into a CD in a record breaking 14 hours after the concert.
He directs his own ensemble, the Philharmonic Chamber Strings, whose members include principal players from the country's leading orchestra, the group recently completing its third concert series in the South East.
Stephen is the Gorton Philharmonic Society's President and, as such, maintains close links with the Orchestra. This also has enabled the Society to benefit from associations with many of the gifted young musicians at Chetham's School of Music who have performed concertos with the orchestra.