Here are few lines on some of our players
I started playing the violin at the age of 8. I have always loved orchestral playing, and in my 20s did this professionally. I then retrained and became a doctor, returning to the violin as an amateur a few years ago.
Favourite conductor – Bernard Haitink (who sadly passed in 2021)
Favourite violinist – the young Maria Wloszczowska who we are so lucky to have had playing with us on two occasions with BHCO
Career highlight – Wagner’s Ring at the ROH under Haitink
I was a comparatively late starter in music: at secondary school I was so fortunate to have a wonderfully inspirational teacher who helped me to discover for myself the inexhaustible treasure that is music. I went on to study music at university and my subsequent musical career has included teaching, improvisation, composition, jazz, folk music, and of course, classical music performance.
I’m grateful to have had a second career in mental health nursing. I worked in the NHS for many years, retiring 10 years ago. There, I found that my musical background was an invaluable personal resource: as a therapist, in listening and responding, and from group music-making, a sensitivity to the requirements for effective multidisciplinary team membership and leadership.
I’m now back to full-time music, although long-distance cycling, yoga, and looking after my young grandson are also all important calls on my time!
I started playing the flute aged seven, playing in school bands in Bath and Bristol and realised I particularly enjoyed soaring above the other instruments on the piccolo! I went away to music college and returned to Bristol to deliver music education and perform. I enjoy listening to music, but being part of an orchestra such as BHCO is so exhilarating.
A career highlight was playing piccolo in Lutoslawski’s Little Suite under the baton of Ewa Strusinska. When I’m not playing or teaching music I am running around the sights of Bristol.
I’ve been playing the violin since the age of 8. I studied Russian and French, and later did a postgraduate year of violin study with Richard Ireland. I’ve played in many different orchestras including the Ecuadorian National Symphony Orchestra, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, the Nord Deutsche Orchesterakademie. Highlights in my playing life:
Mahler 2 with bhco and Martyn Brabbins – unbelievably exciting
Der Ring ohne Worte with NDO in the Berlin Philharmonie – all the Wagner earworms you could ever want
Elgar 3 – as reconceived by Tony Payne with Brunel Ensemble
My main job now is as a Teaching Fellow in Applied Linguistics at the University of Leicester. I’ve stopped living in the Bristol area, but love this orchestra and rarely miss a concert.
I started the piano when I was 7, the violin when I was 8 and the harp when I was 9. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to play harp or violin when I was in youth orchestra, so I kept on with both of them. Each instrument brings different challenges. As a harpist you are very much on your own – you have to count like made and concentrate like crazy. Maybe that’s why I love playing my violin so much. I like being part of a ‘team’ – whilst it’s fun to practice on your own, the music only comes alive when you are playing in a section and blending with your desk partner, the rest of the violins and the orchestra as a whole.
Musical highlights with Brandon Hill Chamber Orchestra include performing the 4 main Mozart operas and, more recently, the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra with Catherine Larsen-Maguire and Shostakovich 10 with Andrew Shulman.
I am a freelance training consultant helping organisations who want to improve their culture and get better at coping with change.
I reluctantly started cello lessons at the age of 10 when playing football had much greater appeal. I was given my current cello two years later when it was obtained by my father in exchange for a ten pound piano tuning job; sixty five years later it is still my my regular instrument. Performing with my father and two brothers became my introduction to Chamber music.
Following university, I became a secondary school teacher and after working in London, moved to Bristol in 1970. There I found a flourishing and vibrant musical community. I have been a regular member of BHCO since the very first concert in 1987.
Retirement allowed for extensive foreign travel, the time to enjoy our grandchildren and the chance to continue playing in the finest of amateur orchestras. Every BHCO performance presents us with a chance to learn with the most eminent conductors and soloists.
I started playing the violin when I was 6 and at the age of 13, switched to viola. I studied in Katowice with Dariusz Korcz and in the USA with Doris Lederer. Music playing has certainly got me round the world! I have been a member of Internationale Junge Orchesterakademie in Germany, the Idyllwild Festival in Los Angeles, as well as the Symphony Orchestra of India.
My first professional job was with the Silesian Philharmonic which I kept for several years. We played concerts in Poland, Europe and Japan. In 2019 I moved to the UK and since then I have mostly played chamber and orchestral music and have taught privately. I joined Brandon Hill Orchestra in 2021.
I am principal second violin, and have played with BHCO since 1999. I am a recently retired GP, having latterly worked in inner city Cardiff for nearly 25 years (receiving an MBE in 2011 for services to healthcare and homeless people). I grew up in a musical family in Nottingham; my parents met at a chamber music course (my father was the viola maker Wilfred Saunders). I started violin lessons when I was 8. As a teenager, my social life revolved around orchestral and chamber music, so nothing has changed!
I now divide my time between musical and grandmotherly activities and my Quaker roles in South Wales, including being a chaplain in Cardiff Prison.
I play either a violin made by my father for my mother when they were engaged, or one made by my brother, Jacob.
I am Principal Oboe in the Brandon Hill Chamber Orchestra. I started learning the oboe at 11 and studied at Royal Academy of Music. After a spell working back in Scotland, I began freelance playing and teaching the oboe in Lancashire. From the orchestra’s inception in 1987 I regularly made the journey to Bristol to play, becoming a Bristolian myself in 2003. The range of musical experiences that bhco has allowed me to enjoy has been both enriching and fulfilling; a personal highlight was the chance to play the Strauss Oboe Concerto conducted by Dougie Boyd (himself an oboist) in 2002. The pleasure and stimulation of meeting and working with new, gifted conductors and soloists cannot be overstated and I rejoice in the opportunities for music making and friendship that we share in the orchestra.
Away from music I completed a degree and had a second career working with hard to reach young people, helping them to engage with work and education. Now I am a person with Parkinson’s involved with the challenges that brings and more important still, an enthusiastic granny to my grandchildren.