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John Thwaites

Course Director- Piano

Professor John Thwaites is Head of the Department of Keyboard Studies at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where he has directed major Festivals of Ireland, Delius, Bax, Skryabin and Brahms as well as directing a celebrity-studded All Night Gala at Birmingham Town Hall. He is best known for his collaborative work with strings, as a founder member of the Primrose Piano Quartet and in duo with Alexander Baillie.  He has recorded twenty CDs for Meridian, SOMM and Dutton. TV and Radio work includes BBC Radio Three Lunchtime broadcasts and appearances for "In Tune". His research work focuses on Historically Informed Performance Practice in the chamber music of Johannes Brahms. John has devoted much of his life to teaching, including posts at Christ's Hospital, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Purcell School.

Fali Pavri


Professor Fali Pavri enjoys a busy and varied career as soloist, chamber musician and teacher. Born in Mumbai, India, he studied the piano at the Moscow Conservatoire and at the Royal Academy of Music, London.While still a student, he was invited by the great Russian cellist, Mstislav Rostropovitch to be his pianist on an extensive concert tour of India. This was followed by his London debut at the Purcell Room and concerts in prestigious venues around the world. He has performed and collaborated with many eminent musicians including the Vertavo quartet, the Leopold Trio, Paragon Ensemble,  Scottish Ensemble, clarinetist Andrew Marriner, cellist Franz Helmerson, singers Roderick Williams and Mark Padmore and composer Mauricio Kagel. A committed and sought-after teacher with many international prize-winning students, Fali Pavri is a Professor of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.


Julian Jacobson


Julian Jacobson studied with Lamar Crowson, John Barstow and Louis Kentner and has established a reputation as a pianist of extraordinary breadth and versatility. His repertoire is firmly centred on the great classics of the repertoire - in recent years he has become particularly known for his Beethoven cycles and marathons - but he is also an acclaimed exponent of contemporary music including jazz, and as a much sought-after duo and ensemble pianist he has partnered many leading British and international soloists. His concert tours have taken him to over 40 countries worldwide and he has recorded more than 20 CDs. Julian was Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama from 1992-96 and Artistic Director of the Paxos International Music Festival, Greece, for 17 years. He currently teaches at the Royal College of Music and Royal Brimingham Conservatoire. He is President of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe.

Carole Presland


Carole Presland has performed worldwide, appearing in the UK at the Wigmore Hall, South Bank and at international festivals such as Aldeburgh and Bath. She has broadcast regularly for BBC Radio 3 and frequently abroad for Bayerischer Rundfunk, Radio France, Belgian National Radio, RAI TV and WFMT in the USA. She has recorded CDs for labels such as Pavane, Meridian and EMI Classics, to wide critical acclaim. Passionate about Chamber Music, Carole has collaborated with distinguished artists including Colin Carr, Robert Cohen, Frans Helmerson, Ralph Kirshbaum, Nobuko Imai, Anthony Marwood, Sylvia Rosenberg and the Endellion, Chilingirian, Heath and Belcea String Quartets. Following work on the faculties of Yehudi Menuhin School, The Purcell School, and the RNCM, Manchester, Carole was appointed Senior Tutor in Keyboard Chamber Music at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, a role which she currently combines with piano professorships there and at the Royal Academy of Music. She was elected an HonARAM in 2013.

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Leland Chen


Leland Chen won first prize in the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. He made his London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and since that time has appeared with the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestras and toured North America with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has toured Poland with the Polish Chamber Orchestra and Germany with the Warsaw Sinfonia and has also performed in Europe with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Netherlands Philharmonic. Following the enormous success of his New York debut he gave a recital tour of over sixty cities in the USA and has appeared at many European festivals including Gstaad and Schleswig-Holstein. Leland’s portfolio of recordings includes highlights of the violin repertoire, ranging from Bruch’s famous violin concerto, through to popular, salon favourites. He currently teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Susanne Stanzeleit


Susanne Stanzeleit has performed worldwide as a soloist and chamber musician. Her repertoire includes many premieres and commissions of works by composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Anthony Payne, György Kurtág, John Adams, Rebecca Saunders, Philip Cashian, John Woolwich and John Casken. She was leader of the Maggini Quartet and is frequent guest-leader of many orchestras, ensembles and contemporary music groups. With the Primrose Piano Quartet she enjoys a busy touring schedule with regular performances in London's major concert halls and its own festival. Susanne has recorded more than 30 critically acclaimed CDs for Meridian, Naxos, Cala/United and BMS Records. She was Head of Strings at the London College of Music and Media until 2006 and now teaches violin and chamber music at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

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Simon Smith


Simon Smith is a violinist of wide ranging interests. He has been active as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher worldwide for 30 years. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras such as the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Philharmonia, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Recitals have included the Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room. He has performed extensively across Russia with recitals and concerto performances from Moscow to Vladivostock, and played concertos in Hong Kong and Beijing. His repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary and has a number of ongoing projects to expand the violin repertoire through commission and rediscovery of lost works. A committed chamber musician, Simon was a member of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Octet, performing in concert halls and broadcasts worldwide. Other projects have included the release of a CD of duos and trios by Kodaly and Dohnanyi. In addition to teaching at RCM Junior Department Simon has taught at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire since 2004. He also teaches specialist violinists and viola players at Wells Cathedral School.

Louise Lansdown


Louise Lansdown was appointed Head of Strings at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012, after holding the position of Senior Lecturer in the School of Strings at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 2001-2012. Louise is the founder of the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival launched at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in October 2014 as well as the founder and President of the British Viola Society. She is on the council of the European String Teachers Association, Quartet of Peace Trust, Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, the Albion Quartet and directs the Conservatoire based viola course at Pro Corda, Suffolk. Louise plays mostly chamber music and solo concerts, collaborating with violists and other musicians across the world. She commissions new music for the viola and concocts hair brained schemes to perform music by Paul Hindemith and much unknown viola music, bringing the viola to many unsuspecting and innocent people. She is a member of the South African “Ubuntu Ensemble”. Louise hails from Cape Town where she studied with Prof Jack De Wet and Eric Rycroft at the University of Stellenbosch. She was awarded an ABRSM Overseas Scholarship for postgraduate study at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1998. Louise was awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester in 2008.

2023 Sabbatical year

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Dorothea Vogel


Dorothea Vogel was born in Switzerland and studied with Rudolf Weber in Winterthur. After winning first prize in the Swiss Youth Competition, Dorothea won scholarships to study with Paul Coletti at the Peabody Institute, USA, and with David Takeno and Micaela Comberti at the Guildhall School in London, where she graduated with the coveted Concert Recital Diploma. She was a founder member of the Amar Quartet. Dorothea has played the baroque viola in the Kings Consort and Florilegium and has been both principal viola in the Gustav Mahler Orchestra and the World Youth Orchestra in Israel. She has appeared as a soloist with the Zurich Kammerorchester and at London’s Wigmore Hall. In 2001 she joined the Allegri String Quartet, one of the UK’s longest-standing chamber groups, with whom she enjoys a busy performing, touring and recording schedule. She is a professor at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and James Allen's Girls' School, and teaches Chamber Music at Pro Corda as well as festivals throughout the UK. Her viola is by Ludovico Rastelli, Genoa, circa 1800.

Jacky Woods


Born in London, Jacky studied the violin and viola with Sheila Nelson and then the viola at the RNCM with Atar Arad and Mischa Geller. As a young professional, Jacky combined a busy chamber career with the Ceruti string trio and the Adderbury ensemble with working in the English Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne Touring Opera amongst others. Following a shoulder injury, her love for teaching gradually took over, and she now combines teaching at Junior and Primary Academy with a private teaching practice. Jacky founded Parkview chamber music 12 years ago where she coached up to 14 string groups weekly preparing them for regular concerts, competitions and festivals. 13 years ago, Jacky founded and became musical director of the Arpeggione viola courses in Suffolk. She founded Beares chamber music in 2021, is on the council for ESTA and also teaches at the Purcell school. Other courses include Pro Corda, Cadenza, the National Childrens Orchestra, Summer Strings, National Symphony Orchestra and Stringwise.


Robin Ireland


Robin Ireland was violist with the celebrated Lindsay String Quartet between 1985 and 2005, and with the Primrose Piano Quartet from 2007 till 2015.  He was Head of Chamber Music at the Birmingham Conservatoire between 2014 and 2021.He now performs as a soloist and freelance chamber musician. He specialises in playing the great unaccompanied works for violin and cello on his beautiful Amati viola.

Christine Anderson

Viola and assosiate pastoral lead

Christine Anderson grew up in Glasgow, where she studied at both the junior and senior departments of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, before completing her Masters at the Royal College of Music with Simon Rowland Jones. Christine joined the Hallé in 2016, and enjoyed several years with the orchestra; highlights included Wagner’s Siegfried at the Edinburgh Festival, playing with Bjork at Bluedot Festival, and premiering chamber music by Dobrinka Tabakova. Last year, she left Manchester and joined the London Mozart Players as No. 4 Viola. She enjoys a busy freelance career, touring with orchestras such as Aurora and the RPO, and playing guest co-principal with the Philharmonia and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. She has recorded for artists including Self Esteem and the Courteeners. Christine often performs with ground-breaking chamber collectives, such as the United Strings of Europe, Manchester Collective, and Her Ensemble. She is passionate about the importance of the classical music world being a place where everybody can feel included and represented.


Christoph Richter


Described in The Times as ‘searching, searing and sublime,’ cellist Christoph Richter was a student of the legendary André Navarra and Pierre Fournier, and performs as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the world. He has played concertos with many leading orchestras, and in recitals he performed complete cycles of works by Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Webern. His strong interest in contemporary music has led him to work with composers such as Penderecki, Kurtág, Henze, Lachenmann, Holliger, Reimann, Turnage, Beamish and Widmann. Amongst his recordings are works by Schumann and Holliger for ECM, Klengel concertos for cpo, Mozart Divertimento for Naxos and the Brahms Sextet op.36 for Harmonia Mundi, which received the Diapason D’Or. Richter was cellist of the Cherubini and Heine Quartets, with whom he performed in the world’s most prestigious halls. He is the principal cellist of Sir András Schiff’s Cappella Andrea Barca from the start in 1999 and recently founded the Pasqualati Quartet. He is professor of cello at the Folkwang University of the arts in Essen, Germany, and the Royal Academy of Music in London and has frequently been a guest professor at the Ravinia festival’s Steans Institute of Music, US.

Alexander Baillie


Alexander Baillie is internationally recognised as one of the finest cellists of his generation.
He has appeared with many British orchestras working with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and has appeared regularly as cello soloist in concertos, recitals and festivals throughout the world. He has given notable first performances of works by Penderecki, Hans Werner Henze, Takemitsu, Colin Matthews and H.K.Gruber. Recordings include the Tippett Triple Concerto with the composer conducting and the Shostakovich First Concerto with Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic. His interpretation of the Britten Cello Suites achieved the highest acclaim in the New York press. He is Professor of Cello at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen.

2023 Sabbatical year

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Robert Max


Robert Max enjoys a career that weaves together solo performance, chamber music, conducting and teaching. He has given recitals throughout the UK, Europe, Russia and the USA and performed concertos with the BBC Concert Orchestra, London Mozart Players, English Sinfonia, Arad Philharmonic, Wren Orchestra, Kazakh State Symphony Orchestra, Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra and many others. As cellist of the Barbican Piano Trio for thirty years, he has performed on four continents and made recordings for ASV, Dutton, Black Box and Guildmusic. Robert is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, where he has taught at the Junior Academy since 1992, and he has coached chamber music at MusicWorks since its inception in 2001. He is an Honorary Professor of the Rachmaninov Institute in Tambov (Russia), a member of the International Board of Governors of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and President of the North London Festival of Music, Drama and Dance. Robert is the principal cellist of the London Chamber Orchestra, conducts the Oxford and North London Symphony Orchestras and plays a Stradivarius cello dating from 1726 known as “The Comte de Saveuse”.  After performing Bach’s Six Cello Suites throughout the UK in 2019 Robert recorded them and they were released by Guildmusic to critical acclaim last year.

Kirsten Jenson

Cello and pastoral lead

A recipient of numerous prizes and awards, Kirsten made her solo debut playing the Schumann Cello Concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra while studying with renowned soloist and pedagogue Johannes Goritzki. After finishing her studies in Switzerland, she joined the Ragazze Quartet in Holland, with whom she released albums under the label Channel Classics and performed regularly on live TV, radio, and at major venues including the Royal Concertgebouw. Kirsten has taken part in international concert series and festivals throughout Europe, Indonesia, Japan and the US, including IMS Prussia Cove, The London Masterclasses, and the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival. She was awarded Best British Cellist at the 2016 International Music Competition Grand Prize Virtuoso, and now has a busy freelance career, combining session work and private teaching with her love of solo and chamber music. As a member of the Fontanelli Quartet, Kirsten was a Park Lane Young Concert Artist, and then with the Dulcinea Quartet held the Carne Fellowship at Trinity College in London, alongside multiple tours to Japan and a collaboration with Geidai Music University.

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