Festival String Quartet

David Adams violin; Lucy Gould violin; James Toll viola; Kate Gould cello

Festival String Quartet

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David Adams violin

David Adams is the Concertmaster of the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, co-Artistic Director of the Penarth Chamber Music Festival and teaches at RWCMD.

David Adams  violin

In his role at WNO, he performs concertos with the orchestra and directs concerts from the violin. He has appeared as guest leader with most of the major orchestras in the UK most recently English National Opera, Royal Opera House and the Halle Orchestra.

Equally at home on violin and viola David has made guest appearances, recordings and broadcasts with the Nash Ensemble, Endellion String Quartet, Gould Piano Trio and Hebrides Ensemble including recording the Brahms Piano Quartets (Gould Piano Trio) and the Beethoven String Quintets (Endellion String Quartet). Previously a member of the London Bridge Trio and the Raphael Ensemble, his recordings of Schumann and Mendelssohn Piano Trios were received with critical acclaim and the London Bridge Trio’s live broadcast of Fanny Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio was selected to be the cover disc of BBC music magazine.

This year David will appear at the Winchester and Wye Valley chamber music festivals, and has directed a winter tour of concerts with WNO. He was honoured to be invited to participate in the IMS Prussia Cove 50th anniversary celebrations at the Wigmore Hall in 2022.

David belongs to a musical family – his father, John Adams, was Principal Viola of the Halle Orchestra and his wife is cellist Alice Neary.

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Lucy Gould violin

Lucy is best known as the violinist and founder member of the Gould Piano Trio, one of the UK’s most respected ensembles.

Lucy Gould  violin

Several international awards, a busy schedule and an impressive discography are testament to Lucy’s dedication to this genre since embarking on her career.

Lucy studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and Indiana University, Bloomington with Gyorgy Pauk and Josef Gingold. In addition, masterclasses with Andras Schiff, Menahem Pressler and members of the Amadeus String Quartet at Prussia Cove and the Banff Centre for the Arts were a source of great inspiration in the early days. She enjoys all aspects of the repertoire, from sonatas with Benjamin Frith and Leon McCawley, clarinet trios with Robert Plane, to horn trios with David Pyatt, Richard Watkins and Alec Frank-Gemmill. Her experience has led to invitations to appear on international juries.

Lucy is a regular guest leader of many UK orchestras and holds the position of principal 2nd violin with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. As part of the COE Academy she often gives lessons and advice to up and coming violinists and has directed student performances of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms Symphonies. She lives in Cardiff and teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

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James Toll viola

Since graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2010, James has performed and recorded with many of Europe’s finest ensembles using both historical and modern instruments.

James Toll  viola

He has appeared as leader with Irish Baroque Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Arcangelo, Classical Opera, Academy of Ancient Music, Opera Settecento, The Taverner Players, Alison Balsom Ensemble, Solomon’s Knot, and as an ensemble leader for major pop artists including Eminem, Architects, Alter BridgeBring Me The HorizonClean Bandit, and Sting, among others. With his improvisatory folk-pop group Fiddlin About he maintains a busy schedule performing for the corporate world, regularly engaged by the likes of Facebook, Mastercard, Wembley Stadium, Jaguar Land Rover, and Red Bull Racing at events across Europe.

As a chamber musician he has travelled internationally and performed at many of the world’s great festivals, including Göttingen Handel Festival, Halle Handel Festival, Leipzig Bachfest, Bachseminar Arnstadt, Edinburgh, Newbury Spring Festival, Ryedale, Spitalfields, Shanghai, Seoul, New York, La Jolla, West Cork, and with the Dante Quartet, Callino Quartet, and Arcangelo. More recently he performed Max Richter’s Four Seasons as part of a theatre piece at Shakespeare’s Globe to great critical acclaim, playing more than fifty performances over two months.

James plays a fine Venetian violin, ca. 1730, loaned to him by two generous benefactors, local to Winchester!

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Richard Lester cello/baroque cello

Chamber-musician, solo-cellist, orchestral principal and renowned teacher,

Richard Lester  cello/baroque cello

Richard Lester was a member of the award-winning Florestan Trio, a founder-member of the ensemble Domus and was a member of Hausmusik and the London Haydn Quartet. He was principal cello with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and has been principal with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe since 1989. Currently, he is a member of the Gould Piano Trio.

He has made over forty discs of chamber music, including the complete works of Mendelssohn for cello and piano, and a disc of Boccherini sonatas on period instruments. Together with violinist Anthony Marwood, he is co-director of the Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival in East Sussex. He teaches at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School in London.

When not performing or teaching, Richard is happiest cooking, eating and drinking, preferably on a boat.

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Katharine Dain soprano

Soprano Katharine Dain performs opera, chamber music, orchestral repertoire, song, and oratorio on international stages.

Katharine Dain  soprano

She is also a curator of unusual programs, a writer, and a probing collaborator on artistic projects of many kinds. Her 2020 album Regards sur l’Infini with pianist Sam Armstrong, featuring works of Messiaen, Debussy, and others, won the 2021 Edison Klassiek for Best Debut: ‘fearless … beautifully controlled … exquisite’ (Gramophone). The duo’s second album together, Forget This Night (2023), featured works of Lili Boulanger, Szymanowski, and Bacewicz and was just as highly praised, winning BBC Music Magazine’s disc of the month in its category.


Noted for Mozart roles, Katharine has recently sung Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. She was the 2022-23 Artist in Residence with Finland’s Tapiola Sinfonietta, performing works of Barber, Beethoven, Copland, and Saariaho. Other recent highlights include repeat appearances with the Orchestra of the 18th Century, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Dutch Chamber Orchestra, and Asko|Schönberg; solo recital debuts in two Concertgebouws—Amsterdam and Bruges; residencies at numerous chamber music festivals; and the premiere of a new work for soprano by Bram Kortekaas with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, later released on their Horizon premières series. She currently lives in Rotterdam.

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Lenny Sayers animateur

Lenny Sayers is an accomplished clarinet player and is currently Principal Bass Clarinet with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

Lenny Sayers  animateur

His role in BBC NOW involves regularly playing principal and second clarinet as well as Basset Horn. Before joining the BBC NOW in October 2011 Lenny worked for ten years as a freelance clarinet player and teacher based in Manchester. Having worked for over two decades as a professional musician he has performed with many of the UK’s leading orchestras and ensembles.

Lenny is an active chamber musician, and from 1999 to 2011 was a member of the Fell Clarinet Quartet with whom he performed throughout the UK and recorded two CDs. Since moving to Wales he has performed with Cardiff Winds and the Flourish Wind Quintet.

Lenny is becoming increasingly well known as a presenter and animateur. He has presented and devised the Family Concerts for the Penarth Chamber Music Festival since it began in 2013. He has also presented concerts for BBC NOW and the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival.

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Benjamin Frith piano

Prolific recitalist and recording artist, Benjamin Frith is one of the most versatile, respected and engaging pianists in the UK.

Benjamin Frith  piano

With over 60 recordings – from Scarlatti to MacMillan – and many acclaimed reviews, Frith is at the forefront of the craft of music making.

Gold Medal winner of the Artur Rubinstein Piano Masters International Competition, Tel Aviv, and Top Prize Winner in the Busoni International Piano Competition, Frith has performed with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors. Zubin Mehta with the IPO and Mosche Atzmon with the Warsaw Philharmonic amongst some of Frith’s many memorable musical experiences. Renowned for his critically acclaimed recordings, Frith made Gramophone ‘Disc of the Year’ with his CV Stanford 2nd Piano Concerto and his Schumann Davidsbundler Op. 6 won top recommendation in the Radio 3 ‘CD Review’.

In high demand as both soloist and chamber musician, Frith enjoys a busy and versatile career. As pianist in the Gould Piano Trio he has toured extensively throughout North America; and as guest pianist in the illustrious Nash Ensemble he has performed and recorded to critical acclaim. Solo tours have taken him to America, Europe, the middle and far East with upcoming solo tours to Japan.

Benjamin Frith lives in Yorkshire with his wife and piano duo partner, Heidi Rolfe.

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Max Baillie violin

British-German violinist Max Baillie has played deep in the Sahara Desert with Malian nomads, led Bjork’s band in the Royal Albert Hall, and played with Bobby McFerrin at Carnegie Hall.

Max Baillie  violin

He is founding member of Lodestar Trio with its unique Scandinavian folk versions of Bach and other Baroque music, and also of ZRI— a quintet inspired by the Viennese Red Hedgehog Tavern where Brahms and Schubert heard the Gypsies play. As a member of both groups Max plays all over Europe.

Max enjoys appearing as guest leader-director for ensembles including CHAARTS in Switzerland, Manchester Collective, Scottish Ensemble, Sinfonia Cymru, and collaborating at chamber music festivals including recently in UK, Romania, Italy, Norway, and Bulgaria. Max is also one half of Sonnen, an experimental electronic music duo with Vahakn Mattosian. The duo has performed at Snape Maltings for the Festival of New and been supported by a residency hosted by the Britten Pears Foundation.

A graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School, Max was mentored by the legendary violinist Ivry Gitlis. Max runs a concert series in his hometown in St Leonards on Sea where he collaborates with many of his friends. Laura van der Heijden is a regular visitor and they recently collaborated as part of her Kings Place artist in residence series with a programme alongside cimbalom virtuoso Marcel Comendant and award-winning bass player Misha Mullov-Abbado.

Max plays the mandolin, and is a graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School, and later Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first class honours in Political Philosophy.


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Liz Kenny lute/theorbo

Elizabeth Kenny is one of Europe’s leading lute players.

Liz Kenny  lute/theorbo

She has played with many of the world’s best period instrument groups and experienced many different approaches to music making.  She has an extensive discography of collaborations with ensembles across Europe and the USA, and her own repertoire interests have led to critically acclaimed recordings of solo music from the ML Lute Book, and songs by Lawes, Purcell and Dowland. Her group Theatre of the Ayre focuses on 17th Century vocal music with an improvisational character.

Elizabeth has given premiere performances of solo and chamber pieces by James MacMillan, Benjamin Oliver, Heiner Goebbels and Rachel Stott.  In June 2019 she premiered Nico Muhly’s Berceuse for solo theorbo, which was written for her in 2018, and features on her CD Ars longa: Old and new music for theorbo for Linn records which was nominated in the 2020 BBC Music Magazine Awards in the Instrumental category.

In recent seasons, Elizabeth has performed a series of concerts with the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra, coinciding with a Decca Classics album release, and also played at the Tetbury Music Festival, London International Festival of Early Music, the Trigonale Festival der Alten Musik in Austria, the Ludlow English Song Weekend, the Newbury Spring Festival, Trigonale Festival, the Lammermuir Festival, and a Shakespeare programme with Mark Padmore at the Oxford Lieder Festival.

This season she performs at Chiltern Arts, Winchester Chamber Music and Salisbury International Arts Festivals, and returns to Wigmore Hall. She is currently Professor of Lute and Theorbo at the Royal Academy of Music.

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Simone van der Giessen viola

Simone van der Giessen was born in Amsterdam and moved to the UK in 2002 to continue her violin studies with Jan Repko at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Simone van der Giessen  viola

It was in Manchester, that as a founding member of the Navarra String Quartet, chamber music became the centre of her musical life. In 2004 she began studying viola with Predrag Katanic and after graduating with First Class Honours she finished a Masters degree with David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

With the Navarra quartet, Simone has performed internationally for 16 years. There have been many highlights in her years with the Navarra quartet, a few of them performing in the Sydney Operahouse, playing at the Esterhazy castle, and studying with Ferenc Rados.

They have been awarded the MIDEM Classique Young Artist Award, a Borletti – Buitoni Trust Fellowship, a Musica Viva tour and prizes at the Melbourne, Florence and at the Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Simone is now a member of the Elias Quartet. This quartet is steadily building a recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim. From 2020 they have been touring their Beethoven cycles throughout America, and most recently in June 2023 in Tokyo at the Suntory Hall.

Outside of the quartet, Simone is in much demand as a chamber musician and is frequently invited to perform with various musicians and ensembles such as the Nash ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

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Marianne Schofield double bass

Originally from London, Marianne Schofield is a double bass player with a strong commitment to chamber and contemporary music.

Marianne Schofield  double bass

As a founder member of the ground-breaking contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment (formed of soprano, clarinet, harp and double bass), Marianne is passionate about presenting new music in an engaging way and is active as an arranger and improviser. She is also an artistic board member of the award-winning contemporary collective Riot Ensemble, with whom she has performed the premieres of many new solo works for double bass, including solo performances at Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Arctic Arts Festival Norway and MaerzMusik Berlin.

Marianne has performed as a chamber musician with the Haffner Wind Ensemble, GBSR duo, the Solem and Navarra quartets, Chroma, United Strings of Europe and Manchester Collective. She also performs regularly with UK orchestras including Aurora Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera, English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Sinfonia of London.

Marianne studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the University of Cambridge, and is a graduate of the Hallé/RNCM String Leadership Scheme. She is grateful to the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, the Headley Trust and the Greenbank Scholarship for supporting her studies.

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Aestus Quartet Emerging Quartet in Residence

Since their formation at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in 2021, the Aestus Quartet have established themselves as a dynamic ensemble that is recognised for their warmth and sensitive musical approach.

Aestus Quartet  Emerging Quartet in Residence

The name ‘Aestus’ is Latin for sea tide and is inspired by the opening of one of the staples in their repertoire: Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No 2.

The Aestus have recently been appointed Studio Quartet at the RNCM and are 2023-2024 Britten Pears Young Artists. They look forward to performances this season with organisations such as Ilkley Concert Club, Winchester Chamber Music Festival, Grantham Music Club, Saddleworth Concert Society, Britten Pears ‘Chamber Futures’, Tickhill Music Society, and First Light Festival.

In 2023 the quartet both opened and closed the Lake District Summer Music Festival’s emerging Artist Series. Passionate about making classical music inclusive and accessible, they worked with the Festival’s artistic director Stephen Threlfall to deliver a series of workshops in schools and community centres.

In the 2022-2023 season, the quartet additionally made appearances at series including Southwell Music Festival, Festival Ravel Young Talents (Bayonne, France), Enys Chamber Music Festival (Cornwall), Wrexham Classical Music Festival, BBC Philharmonic Young Artist Series (Bridgewater Hall), Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre, and Lymm Chamber Music. As part of the Hans Keller Forum, the quartet gave a final concert at the West Road Concert Hall, University of Cambridge, and performed in a lecture recital.

The Aestus are recipients of the RNCM Weil Prize, finalists in the RNCM Christopher Rowland Ensemble of the Year Prize among others, and members of Chamber Studio UK’s inaugural Hans Keller Forum in 2022-2023. They are grateful to have been mentored by international artists including Donald Grant (Elias Quartet), Petr Prause (Talich Quartet), David Waterman (Endellion Quartet), Jeremy Young, Richard Ireland, John Myerscough (Doric Quartet) and Alasdair Beatson.

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Piers Hellawell Composer-in-Residence

Piers Hellawell’s work has been commissioned, broadcast and performed in many countries.

Piers Hellawell  Composer-in-Residence

Large projects since his 1999 Proms debut Inside Story have included Cors de chasse – a double concerto commissioned for Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet) and Jonas Bylund (trombone) by the Philharmonia Orchestra and Dogs and Wolves – a commission for the BBC Scottish SO’s first series in City Halls, premiered in 2006 and recorded on the CD of the same name. Syzygy, for the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Stockholm Chamber Brass, appeared in Sweden in 2013 – conducted by Paul Watkins.

Hellawell’s works are represented on CD on the ECM New Series, NMC and Metier labels, as well as on three critically acclaimed discs from the Metronome label; May 2012 saw the issue of ‘Airs, Waters’, on the Delphian label; its main work Agricolas was hailed by The Independent as ‘…. a large-scale palette applied with the most delicate of brushwork’, and by ‘he Scotsman as ‘gorgeously impassioned work … a rich kaleidoscope of inspired creativity’. A PRS Foundation ‘Beyond Borders’ award led to the 2016 collaboration Up By The Roots with Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey and Fidelio Piano Trio, with whom Hellawell has a long association; this chamber work with live poetry was premiered during a UK tour in 2016. Piers Hellawell’s 60th birthday year also featured a new orchestral work Wild Flow at the BBC Proms – a commission for the 50th season of the Ulster Orchestra. Hellawell was featured composer at Detroit’s Great Lakes Festival during 2016, along with performances in Sweden, Finland and Germany as well as around the U.K.; more recent orchestral work includes Symphonies in Chains, premiered by the Ulster Orchestra in 2020, and now Rapprochement, a piano concerto for Clare Hammond. Hellawell’s most recent new work is a set of horn pieces, Ice Feathers/Narwhal Joust, premiered by Markus Maskuniitty in Stockholm; its UK premiere was given by Ben Goldscheider in Belfast in January 2023.

Piers Hellawell is Professor of Composition at the Queen’s University of Belfast; his music is published by Edition Peters (London) Ltd.

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Sam Glazer Workshop Leader

Workshop leader Sam Glazer has led creative projects for Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne, Spitalfields Music and Britten Sinfonia.

Sam Glazer  Workshop Leader

He specialises in creating new music with people – all sorts of people – children and teachers in schools,  babies and their adults, people in hospital, those living with dementia in care settings – even sometimes with professional musicians.

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Piatti Quartet

Piatti Quartet

The distinguished Piatti Quartet are widely renowned for their ‘profound music making’ (The Strad) and their ‘lyrical warmth’ (BBC Music Magazine). Since their prizewinning performances at the 2015 Wigmore Hall String Quartet Competition, they have performed all over the world and made international broadcasts from many countries.

The Piattis are famed for their diverse programming and for passionate interpretations across the spectrum of quartet writing, and have commissioned and recorded some of the most major and impressive works added to the quartet canon in recent years.

Since their inception they have always had projects in the recording studio with critically acclaimed releases through Linn, Somm, Champs Hill, Hyperion, Delphian, Nimbus and NMC record labels. Their wide ranging discography and repertoire is thanks to their enthusiasm and curiosity in collaborating with a broad range of artists including some of the most recognisable names in classical music such as Nicky Spence, Julius Drake, Michael Collins, Barry Douglas, Janina Fialkowska, Melvyn Tan, Ian Bostridge, Katherine Broderick, Adam Walker, Simon Callaghan and the Belcea Quartet. Accolades in 2023 include Gramophone’s ‘Editor’s Choice for the Month’ with NMC, a five star review from BBC Music Magazine with Delphian and in 2022 they were nominated for ‘Recording of the Year’ with both Limelight and Gramophone for their collaborative disc on the Hyperion label.

Contemporary music has been ever present in their repertoire and leaving a legacy to the quartet genre through commissions is one of the quartet’s central tenets. Major commissions and dedications have stemmed from Mark-Anthony Turnage, Emily Howard, Charlotte Harding, and Joseph Phibbs whilst they have premiered a mesmerising number of new works over the years beginning with Anna Meredith back in 2009. The Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Flagey Radio Hall Brussels, Wigmore Hall London, and the Aldeburgh Festival are some of the high profile occasions where new music has been presented and recordings of Turnage’s quartets 1-4 and Gavin Higgins’ chamber music has also been extensively lauded by critics.

Historical research into quartet music that has been undiscovered or deserves to be better known has led to the premiere recording of Ina Boyle’s (Ireland) SQ in E minor, and performances of lesser known quartet gems by Ralph Vaughan Williams, E.J. Moeran, Rachmaninov, Ireland, Haas, Ulmann, and Durosoir.

The quartet’s name is dedicated to Alfredo Piatti, a 19th Century virtuoso cellist who was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music (the alma mater of the founder’s of the quartet) and also a major exponent of chamber music and contemporary music of his time.

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