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Richard Silk

Richard Silk studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, finishing with a Mus B in composition and organ performance. Notable teachers included Raymond Leppard, Thurston Dart, John Dykes Bower and Douglas Fox. From 1959 to 1971 he was Director of Music at Magdalen College School, Oxford and conductor of Oxford Harmonic Society. He was Assistant University Organist at both Cambridge and Oxford. From 1971-2002 he taught at Birmingham Conservatoire, becoming Director of Studies. During this time he also conducted the Birmingham Choral Society, sang with Ex Cathedra and held the post of organist at Carrs Lane Church, Birmingham. During this time he continued his performing career with broadcasts and concerts both in the UK and Europe. After taking early retirement he returned to Cambridge to study the harpsichord with the eminent player Lucy Carolan. Since then he has given many recitals both as a soloist and with The Borromini Ensemble, a group which he founded in 1993 and which performed countrywide for the next twelve years. The ensemble also recorded two CDs. He appears regularly at The Gateway and churches in Shrewsbury both as soloist and in chamber ensembles and now lives near Church Stretton.

Peter Gosling

Peter Gosling studied the clarinet from the age of 15. While at Birmingham University reading medical biochemistry he continued his musical studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, winning the concerto competition and gaining the ABSM recital diploma with distinction. Since then he has given recitals of classical music in a variety of chamber groups including the recitals with Richard Silk, Contrasts and the Midland Chamber Players. In partnership with a graduate in mathematics also from Birmingham University accordionist Michael Adams they formed the light music duo ‘No Strings’ in 1986. Since then they have been guests with many choirs and music clubs across England and Wales. BBC Radio 2 listeners may have heard No Strings on the ‘Early Show’, and they have appeared on BRMB, BBC Radio Shropshire and BBC Radio West Midlands where they were featured as ‘Artists of the week’.

Elouise Waterhouse

Elouise Waterhouse is a mezzo-soprano from Liverpool in her third year as an undergraduate at Birmingham Conservatoire. She studies with Louise Crane and has performed many staged roles and scenes with great acclaim in recent public conservatoire opera productions. Her performance with Caroline of the duet from Donizetti “Lucia di Lammermoor” in last term’s opera scenes gave us the idea for this concert.

Caroline Modiba

Caroline Modiba is a South African soprano. She studied with the Black Tie Ensemble opera company and the Cape Town Opera Studio, singing major roles in operas by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Johann Strauss, Puccini and Gershwin, including European performances in Barcelona and Bordeaux, and is now a post-graduate student at Birmingham Conservatoire studying with Helen Field.

She won first prize in the annual ATKV Muziquanto national competition in South Africa, second prize in the recent Voices of the Nation competition, also in South Africa, and was a finalist in the Hans Gabor International Singing Competition in Amsterdam in 2015.

Vivien Chasey

Vivien Chasey was a sixth form student in the specialist music department of Wells Cathedral School and then attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama graduating with a distinction.

After a period of freelance playing in London, during which time she also taught violin at St Paul’s Girls’ School where composer Gustav Holst was (previously!) music director, Vivien moved to Manchester to take up a full time post with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. In this role she benefitted from the rich learning experiences afforded by performance of a very wide range of orchestral repertoire, and musical collaboration with numerous world class conductors and soloists. She contributed to over 80 CD recordings, hundreds of radio broadcasts and many television appearances including Proms from the Royal Albert Hall.

As a chamber music player, Vivien has performed at many venues in the UK including the South Bank, London, and also in Canada and Seattle. After ten years with the BBC Philharmonic, she left the first violin section in order to spend more time with her daughters. She currently enjoys a varied musical diet of chamber music, teaching and a little orchestral playing, and is a home educator of her younger daughter. In 2012 she founded “Small is Beautiful – Music”, an organisation dedicated to sharing classical music in intimate contexts.

James Brawn

Since his Mozart K.503 concerto debut in Australia aged twelve, pianist James Brawn has forged his own musical path of discovery, studying with great pianists who can trace their pedagogical lineage back to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Clara Schumann.

Brawn was born in England but has lived in New Zealand, Australia, China and the USA. Starting piano lessons at age seven, he performed on New Zealand television and won his first awards in Auckland in 1979. He moved to Melbourne the following year, studying through the 1980s with Margaret Schofield (a pupil of Solomon), Ronald Farren-Price (a pupil of Arrau) and Rita Reichman (a pupil of Serkin and Horszowski). He won major prizes at competitions and scholarships, including the Hephzibah Menuhin Award. While still at school, James performed concerti by Mozart, Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Rachmaninoff. He also reached the concerto final of the ABC Young Performers Awards in 1987, leading to concerts with the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony orchestras.

With a major overseas study grant from the Australia Arts Council, Brawn continued to work with Rita Reichman, in Philadelphia, and gained a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, aged 17 in 1988, studying with Frank Wibaut and Christopher Elton, completing both undergraduate and postgraduate study and winning many recital awards including the Beethoven, Romantic and 20th century prizes. He also performed in master classes with great pianists such as András Schiff, Tamás Vásáry, Stephen Kovacevich, Fou Ts’ong and Menahem Pressler, and studied chamber music with members of the Amadeus and Chilingirian Quartets. Aged 19, he won the Keyboard final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. After graduation, James furthered his studies with the Armenian pianist, Nelly Akopian-Tamarina, and the Slovenian pianist, Marina Horak. 

His London performances include, amongst others, the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St James’s Piccadilly, St.Martin-in-the-Fields, the Foundling Museum, Blackheath Halls, Regent Hall and The Forge. Overseas he has performed in Paris, New Orleans, Shanghai, Brunei, Hong Kong and Sicily. Other important British venues include Cheltenham Town Hall, Yehudi Menuhin Hall, Chichester, Bristol and Birmingham Cathedrals and Brawn performs regularly for the Helensburgh Music Society. He has also given recitals for the Schubert Society of Britain and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. Radio broadcasts include ABC Classic FM and 3MBS radio in Australia, RTHK Radio 4, Hong Kong and his Beethoven recordings are being played on NPR stations across the USA. Returning to the UK in 2010 to further his career, Brawn is based in the beautiful English Cotswolds.

In 2012, he began the process of performing and recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. The first four volumes of ‘A Beethoven Odyssey’ have been released to exceptional reviews, as have the first 2 volumes of the James Brawn ‘In Recital’ series. These recordings are available on the MSR Classics label – In 2016, Brawn joined the piano faculty of the FaceArt Institute of  Music Shanghai. This coming season Mr Brawn will tour the UK, China and Canada in recital and concerto performances. James Brawn is a Steinway Artist.

David Saint

David Saint studied the organ with Clifford Hartley, Dr Alan Spedding and Dame Gillian Weir. He was awarded the Royal College of Organists’ Turpin Prize for the FRCO diploma and was the first organ Scholar to be appointed to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Since 1978, David has been Organist and Director of Music at St Chad’s Cathedral and he has just stepped down from the role of Principal of Birmingham Conservatoire, one of the UK’s leading conservatoires. Recent recitals include Blois Cathedral (France), Lambertikirche, Munster (Germany), Sankt Wendel Basilika (Germany), Gloucester Cathedral, St Mary’s RC Cathedral Edinburgh, Leamington Festival and Keimyung University in Korea.

A new recording of Christmas choral music from St Chad’s Cathedral will be released in the Autumn on the Herald label.

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman was Head of Academic Studies and then Head of Vocal Studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, between 1985 and 2008. He worked as assistant to Pierre Bernac (the singer for whom Poulenc wrote most of his songs) throughout the 1970s, and was French consultant for the London National Opera Studio for 30 years. Collaborative piano playing has always featured largely in his professional life, including many broadcasts and recordings. For twelve years he was pianist and co-director of a springtime series of chamber music concerts in St. Emilion, France. In retirement he works for the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, and at Birmingham Conservatoire, also continuing his teaching at international summer schools

Jessica Wise

Jessica Wise, soprano, studies Vocal and Opera Performance at Birmingham Conservatoire under the guidance of Catherine Benson.

She is a winner of both the Ashleyan Opera Prize and the Cecil Drew Oratorio Prize (Birmingham Conservatoire), and was a semi-finalist for the Somerset Song Prize 2015. Operatic roles include Musetta La Boheme, Pamina Die Zauberflöte, Belinda Dido and Aeneas, and La Contessa Le Nozze de Figaro in Birmingham Conservatoire’s 2015 Opera Scenes. This August she will heading to Germany to perform the role of Barbarina in Lyric Opera Studio Weimar’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

This spring/summer, Jessica is performing with pianist Guy Murgatroyd in venues across the Midlands and the south, including Birmingham, Newbury, Shrewsbury, Oxford and Wigmore Hall, London. In September, Jessica will commence a year of study at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest having won the coveted Joseph Weingarten scholarship.

Jessica had the pleasure of performing with Robin Bowman for her Post Graduate final recital in 2014, and is delighted to be working with him again for this lunchtime concert in Bournville.

Amy Jolly

Amy graduated with distinction from the MA program at the Royal Academy of Music as a student of Josephine Knight, achieving DipRAM for outstanding final recital and the Rhoda Butt Award for achievement and contribution to the institution. Having studied previously with Professor Valter Despalj in Zagreb and Jakob Kullberg at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, she has led an exciting musical path.

Amy is currently a scholar of the String Leadership Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music. Performing regularly with the Hallé and receiving mentorship from Nick Trygstad and Emma Ferrand, Amy is recipient of the 2014 Charles Hallé Award and is very grateful for support from the Oglesby family.

Amy was the first ever instrumentalist to win the Royal Warrant Holders Aldeburgh Bursary in 2013, leading to a performance at the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace and support as a Britten-Pears Young Artist, performing in masterclasses with Miklos Perenyi at the Aldeburgh Festival.

Amy performs regularly with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Ballet Sinfonia and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. She is also a member of the Bristol Ensemble and FeMusa, Britain’s only all-female string orchestra. She was a founding member of the Toki Quartet, who worked with composers Nicola LeFanu and Yuka Takechi, performing all over the UK and Japan. The Toki Quartet received funding from the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, the Holst Foundation, Daiwa Foundation and the Britten-Pears Foundation.