Brundibár Arts Festival: The Artists 2020

Arabella Arnott
Arabella works as an actor, playwright and poet. Most recently her plays, including Life After and Overdue have been produced by Coracle Theatre in association with Alphabetti and her new play POD will premier in the Spring. As an actor based in Newcastle's west end she enjoys a variety of different types of work, from role-play for the NHS to Emmerdale and most recently a role in the new Sky One drama Cobra. She's very pleased to be included in the very talented cast of The Last Cyclist.


Michael Betteridge
Described as ‘inventive’ (The Financial Times) and ‘bold’ and ‘colourful’ (The Times) Michael is a composer who creates work that challenges and inspires audiences and performers alike. He has been commissioned by LSO Discovery and BCMG, amongst others, and his music has featured on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Recent large works include: the Anglo-Icelandic Twitter opera #echochamber that premiered in Reykjavik in May 2018 and was nominated for ‘Event of the Year’ at the Icelandic Music Awards, and settings of Andrew McMillan poems entitled the body is a choir room for male voices and piano of which one movement was shortlisted for the ISCM World Music Days. 2019 saw the premiere of Across the Sky – a community opera to close to the 75th year of Cheltenham Music Festival, whilst 2020 sees the premiere a 45 minute choral work and a new short opera for Welsh National Opera’s Birmingham youth company.


Jan Bradley
Jan Bradley is a freelance percussionist based in Manchester UK. He plays for various orchestras including the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Opera North, BBC Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony orchestra and Manchester Camerata.
As well as performing regularly as an orchestral percussionist, he is also known for his work with 4-MALITY Percussion Quartet. Jan has been part of the quartet since it was formed in 1999. Since then the quartet have performed extensively around the UK and have also been fortunate to give concerts in Ireland, Finland, Germany, Belgium, France, Turkey, Spain, Australia and Taiwan.
He is also a composer and arranger, primarily for percussion. although he has in addition written for Trumpet, Voice and a percussion concerto with full orchestra.
His works have been performed worldwide, including at .... More


Sarah Bulmer
Sarah Bulmer finished her training at Project A, Theatre Royal Newcastle in 2019. Prior to this she studied English Literature at Cardiff University, graduating in 2017. In her first 6 months as a professional Actor she has been lucky enough to work with the companies Gibber and NTC. The Last Cyclist is her first project of 2020, but will not be the last!


Nick Byrne
Nick was born in Liverpool into a large musical family. He took up the cello aged eight and began lessons with Gethyn Jones of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Winner of the Andrew Brown Performance Prize and the Sir Thomas Beecham Scholarship, Nick studied at the Royal Academy of Music with David Strange, Colin Carr and Zara Nelsova. He continued studying in Canada with Paul Marleyn, winning the University of Manitoba Concerto Competition and making numerous recordings of World premieres for CBC National Radio with the contemporary music group Groundswell New Music. He has appeared as concerto soloist across the UK, Europe and North America and often performs as orchestral musician with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He also performs and records with many contemporary pop artists, and has appeared on BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 6 and at Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage ... More


Seth Collin

Brundibár Arts Festival Young Professional Scheme Artist
Seth Collin is seventeen years old and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is currently in Year 12 studying for his A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths. Seth began studying cello through the Suzuki method, and has been learning at the JRNCM since last year with Jennifer Langridge, principal cello of the Psappha ensemble. Seth is Co-Principal cello of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO), and has benefited from working with conductors such as Jaime Martin, Carlos Miguel-Prieto, and Mark Wigglesworth. He has enjoyed performing at major UK concert venues across the country with NYO including the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and the televised Proms with the NYO at the Royal Albert Hall. Seth enjoys all aspects of music, including solo performance, harmony, and chamber music.


Chris Connel
Christopher Connel is an actor from Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He has extensive theatre, TV, radio, corporate and commercial credits to his name, and is probably best known as the original Oliver Kilbourn in Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters (Newcastle, London, Broadway). He has appeared in notable UK TV dramas including Emmerdale, George Gently and Heartbeat. .... More


Mark Cronfield
Mark has been a professional actor for over 20 years working for much of that time with North Country Theatre performing in 'A Blood Wedding in Wensleydale', 'The Rocking Horse Winner' and 'The Wish House' to name a few, and has taken the ethos of that company in setting up his own: Fell-Foss Theatre (, creating theatre in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales for rural communities across the North of England and beyond. He is currently touring his one man production of 'Crusoe's Island' (which recently opened the Books on Tyne festival at The Lit and Phil Library) through into Spring 2020. He has worked for three over eden, Theatre Hullabaloo and the National, among others and works regularly for Time Will Tell Theatre, though his best remunerated role to date was donning prosthetics for Neil Marshall's film; 'The Descent'. Mark lives in Wensleydale with his family and is very pleased to be part of the cast of 'The Last Cyclist'.


Philip Dukes
“Great Britain’s most outstanding solo viola player.” – The Times As a concerto soloist, Philip Dukes has appeared with the BBC Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, The Hallé, The Philharmonia, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, London Mozart Players, Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, BBC Scottish Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Ulster Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. In 1995 Philip made his BBC Promenade Concerto debut returning again in 1999, 2005 and 2007. Philip has recorded a wide range of chamber and solo CDs, most notably the complete works for viola by Rebecca Clarke for Naxos and a debut recording for Deutsche Grammophon of the Triple Concerto by Sir Michael Tippett recorded live at the BBC Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The complete box set of Mozart Viola Quintets for Hyperion Records with the Nash Ensemble has also recently been released to critical acclaim. .... More


Mark Edwards
Originally from Edinburgh, Mark trained as a percussionist before taking up conducting and is now directing numerous ensembles across the North East of England.  With a keen interest in contemporary music, Mark has worked on new compositions with Royal Northern Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta and Streetwise Opera and in 2017 won the National Brass Band Conducting Competition. Mark is in the final year of the conducting course at Royal Northern College of Music, studying with Clark Rundell and Mark Heron. He has taken masterclasses with renowned conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Sian Edwards, David Hill and Neil Ferris. Mark is currently director of music for Newcastle Sinfonietta, Hexham Orpheus Choir, New Tyneside Orchestra and conductor for the award winning chamber choir 'Voices of Hope'. As assistant conductor Mark has worked on projects with BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Scottish Chamber Orchestras.


Mahan Esfahani
Mahan Esfahani has made it his life’s mission to rehabilitate the harpsichord in the mainstream of concert instruments, and to that end his creative programming and work in commissioning new works have drawn the attention of critics and audiences across Europe, Asia, and North America. He was the first and only harpsichordist to be a BBC New Generation Artist (2008-2010), a Borletti-Buitoni prize winner (2009), and a nominee for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year (2014, 2015, and 2017). His work for the harpsichord has resulted in recitals in most of the major series and concert halls, amongst them London’s Wigmore Hall and Barbican Centre, Oji Hall in Tokyo, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Shanghai Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall in NYC, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Recital Centre, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Berlin Konzerthaus, Zurich Tonhalle, Wiener Konzerthaus, San Francisco Performances, the 92nd St Y, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Cologne Philharmonie, Edinburgh International Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Aldeburgh Festival, Madrid’s Fundacio Juan March, Bergen Festival, Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Al Bustan Festival in Beirut, Jerusalem Arts Festival, .... More


Shelly Ezra
Shelly Ezra enjoys a versatile career as a soloist, a passionate chamber musician and a sought-after interpreter of both New Music and Early Music. Her love for the clarinet was awakened by Itshak Kazap at the Conservatory Tel-Aviv. She first studied at the Musikhochschule Lübeck in the renowned class of Sabine Meyer and Reiner Wehle and was later educated by worldclass teachers including Diethelm Jonas (Lübeck), Joy Farral (London), Martin Spangenberg (Weimar), Chen Halevi, Linde Brunmayr-Tutz and Anton Steck (Trossingen). Further she received important influences from Charles Neidich, Sharon Kam, Lorenzo Coppola and at the International Ensemble Modern Academy in Frankfurt. .... More


Sophie Farrell

Brundibár Arts Festival Young Professional Scheme Artist 2020
Sophie Farrell is a British clarinettist who studied at the Royal Academy of Music with professors Angela Malsbury, Christopher Richards, Chi Yu Mo and Laurent Ben Slimane. A Chetham's School of Music alumna, she received the woodwind prize after gaining experience as principal clarinet in their symphony orchestra. She has featured as a soloist in numerous masterclasses with renowned clarinettists such as Robert Plane, Franklin Cohen, Andrew Marriner and Patrick Messina and has performed in the UK, Europe and Asia. Sophie is also a passionate chamber musician and has a wide range of chamber music experience, working with both string and wind ensembles in prestigious venues in the UK, including Wigmore Hall.


Peter Francomb
Peter Francomb began playing the horn at the age of 10. His early studies were in Eastbourne with Jane Allen, and in London with Ifor James and Ron Harris. Early performing experience was gained with the Brighton Youth Orchestra. In 1974 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Douglas Moore. In 1976 at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras, he won the Van Cliburn Foundation Scholarship, which funded a further year’s tuition with David Cripps and Tony Halstead at the Guildhall School of Music. On leaving college, he worked as guest principal horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In the field of chamber music he has worked with the Nash and Prometheus Ensembles, and since 1985 has been a member of the Albion Ensemble. In 1988 he was invited to become the principal horn of Royal Northern Sinfonia, and in 2013 he celebrated 25 years in that role. During his time in Newcastle/Gateshead he has played a large selection of the horn solo repertoire. ... More


Fabian van de Geest
Fabian van de Geest grew up in rural Hertfordshire where he attended the Purcell School, learning horn with Sue Dent. He later studied for an undergraduate degree at the Royal College of Music with Simon Rayner and Tim Jones. Awarded a First Class he went on to complete his Masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with a Distinction where he studied with Richard Bissill and Alec Frank-Gemmill. While studying he also spent an Erasmus exchange with Radovan Vlatkovic at the Salzburg Mozarteum and was a member of the London Sinfonietta Academy. With a busy freelance schedule Fabian regularly plays with some of the country’s top orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with whom he has performed around the world. His recent engagements also include guest principal work with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Aurora Orchestra. .... More


Eilidh Gillespie
Eilidh is a member of Royal Northern Sinfonia, and was previously a member of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Principal Flute of the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Eilidh enjoys a busy freelance career with other orchestras around the UK and abroad. Her most recent engagements include work as guest principal flute with the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Opera North and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. She has also worked with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others. Eilidh also works as a soloist and chamber musician, appearing regularly in RNS chamber music concerts at Sage Gateshead and around the North East. .... More


Dov Goldberg
Dov Goldberg studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Alan Hacker. On leaving the RNCM in 1988 Dov became a founder member of Jane's Minstrels and subsequently joined the Northern Chamber Orchestra as principal clarinet. He has also played first clarinet with the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata and he is now a member of the Northern Sinfonia. In 1990 Dov made his London Debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the Park Lane Group Recital Series and has since made many solo and concerto appearances. In 1994 Dov was invited to join Psappha by Tim Williams and together they recently premièred and gave the first broadcast of Peter Maxwell Davies' Stedman Doubles (1955) in the original version which had been locked away in the British Library for forty years! Dov has played Principal Clarinet with BBC Philharmonic, BBC NOW, CBSO, Hallé, RPO, RPCO, BBC Scottish, SCO, Northern Sinfonia & Opera North. Dov has also worked with Britten Sinfonia, Scottish Opera, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, Haffner Ensemble & Northern Ballet. ... More


Daniel Grimwood
Daniel Grimwood is a performer of international renown, combining an exceptional talent, rare versatility and refinement, with an inquisitive personality. With a repertoire ranging from Elizabethan Virginal music to the works of living composers, he enjoys a solo and chamber career, which has taken him across the globe, performing on the most prestigious concert platforms, including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room in London, Saffron Hall, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Symphony Hall Birmingham, the Sage Gateshead, the Three Choirs Festival, the Rachmaninoff and Gnessin Halls in Moscow, the Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as venues in Germany, Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Estonia, Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Lebanon and Oman. His musical interest started as a 3-year-old playing next door’s piano, and from the age of 7 he was performing in front of audiences. His training continued with Graham Fitch at the Purcell School, where he also studied violin, viola and composition, giving him a broad appreciation of classical music, and later with Vladimir Ovchinnikov and Peter Feuchtwanger. ... More


Philip Harrison
Training and skills:
Trained at A.L.R.A 3 year acting course, Sorrell Carson Stockton Billingham Tech, Foundation drama, 2 yrs. Ken Parkin Fencing (Most Bladed weapons) A.F.A Basic coach Foil, Epee, Sabre. Eskrima (stick fighting). Martial arts: Basic Kung Fu, (Sholin Golden Fist) Karate (Wado Ryu) Progressive combat. Archery. Guitar. Video Production. Juggling, Stilt walking.

Film credits include:
The Boy on the Bus Simon Pitts Flourishing Pictures
Harrigans Nick   Tall Trees Films
Sleepworking Gavin Williams Hook Pictures



Robert Hersey
Theatre Director
Robert studied Music at Newcastle and Acting and Directing at The School of the Science of Acting and the National Theatre in London. He has worked extensively in London and the North of England as Head of Theatre in Colleges, Theatre in Education, Youth Theatres and Community Theatre projects. He has directed many plays and music theatre but has a particular passion for early and Contemporary Opera. He is also a singer, instrumentalist and conductor working with and directing various early music ensembles touring the UK . He is presently working with Edinburgh Studio Opera on Gianni Schicchi and Dido and Aeneas for March 2018.


Sian Hicks
Double Bass
After reading Zoology at the University of Nottingham, Siân went onto complete a postgraduate course at the Royal Northern College of Music under Corin Long. She was awarded the Professional Performance Diploma and established herself as a freelance bassist in great demand. She has performed with most of the country’s top orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Hallé, Orchestra of Opera North and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, as well as many chamber ensembles including Composers Ensemble, Kantak, and European Union Chamber Orchestra. With the Manchester Camerata, she premiered the virtuosic ‘Rondo for 9’ by John Manduel, written to celebrate the life of Ida Carroll, a past figurehead of the double bass. This was made all the more special as she had won the Ida Carroll Award for young bassists several years earlier. ... More


Steven Hudson
Steven was born and raised in North Yorkshire and in 2002 accepted an offer to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Gordon Hunt and Richard Simpson. He graduated in July 2006 with a First Class Honours Degree and winner of the Needlemakers woodwind prize. He went on to study further at the Conservatoire Nationale Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris with David Walter, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music where he graduated with distinction and winner of the RCM oboe prize. During this time he was also a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra. Since his appointment as Section Leader Oboe of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Steven has established himself as one of the UK’s most dynamic and in demand oboists. Recent highlights have included performances of C.P.E Bach’s Oboe Concerto conducted by Thomas Zehetmair and a tour of Brazil as soloist in Albinoni’s Oboe Concerto in D minor under the direction of Olli Mustonen. ... More


Yoshie Kawamura
Yoshie Kawamura was born in Japan Nagoya and has been a resident in the UK since she was 11. She has given many performances worldwide where her main appearances were; in Germany 200th year of celebration for Chopin at Freiburg Musikhochschule, Switzerland Chamber Music Concert at Luzern Marianischer Saal, Berlin Chamber Music Festival Lunchtime Concert Series at Berliner Philharmoniker, and Netherlands International Stichting Apeldoon Festival. She was also invited to join the Berlin Philharmonic Quartet in performing Schumann’s Piano Quintet on their tour of Japan; subsequently she received an invitation from the Poznan Philharmonia to perform as a soloist in Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise in a series of concerts in Poland. Her most recent appearances include Lunchtime Concert at King’s Hall Newcastle University, Brahms and Shostakovich piano trio at Sage Gateshead Hall 1 and Rachmaninov Suite no.2 for two pianos at Durham Cathedral. ... More


Jessica Lee
Jessica was born in Chichester, West Sussex. She began to learn the clarinet aged nine whilst one of the first girl choristers at Salisbury Cathedral. Jessica graduated from the Royal College of Music with a First Class Honours degree in 2004, where she studied with Janet Hilton, Michael Collins and Tim Lines. In 2005, Jessica gained her PGDip with distinction from the RCM where she was the Wilkins-Mackerras scholar and was supported by a full grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. After a busy freelance career in London working with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the London Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jessica joined Royal Northern Sinfonia as Second Clarinet/Principal Bass Clarinet in September 2009. ...


François Lemoine
Born in 1981 in the north of France, François Lemoine began learning the clarinet in his native region. He then studied with Moraguès Pascal, Jean-François Verdier, Maurice Bourgue and David Walter at the Conservatoire de Paris (Paris Conservatoire) where he obtained a First Prize in clarinet, bass clarinet and chamber music, then a "Perfectionnement" (master) "orchestral musician" in the classes of Pascal Jacques, Tys Moraguès. His studies were supported by the Meyer Foundation for Arts. Open to both classical music, ancient and contemporary, he also followed the teachings of Eric Hoeprich and Jacques Di Donato. As a clarinetist and bass clarinetist, he collaborates with the French Youth Orchestra, the Orchestre de Bretagne, the Opera Orchestra of Rouen Normandy, the Concert d'Astrée, Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse, the orchestra Les Siècles, the Orchestre de Paris, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Teatro Real Madrid, the Royal Opera House London, the Oslo Philharmonic or the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, under the direction of conductors such as Kazushi Ono, Emmanuel Krivine, Emmanuelle Haim, François-Xavier Roth, Kurt Mazur, ... More


Jack Liebeck
Possessing flawless technical mastery and a “beguiling silvery tone” (BBC Music Magazine), British violinist Jack Liebeck is one of the most respected musicians of his generation. Jack’s fascination with all things scientific has included collaborations with Professor Brian Cox, and his own annual festival Oxford May Music. Jack is also Artistic Director of the Desy Humboldt Science and Music Festival in Germany and the Alpine Classic in Grindelwald, Swizerland where programming is centred around themes of music, science and the arts.  A renowned soloist and chamber musician, Liebeck has performed with all the major British orchestras under conductors such as Andrew Litton, Leonard Slatkin, Karl-Heinz Steffens, Sir Mark Elder, and further afield with Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (Oramo), Swedish Radio (Daniel Harding), Oslo Philharmonic (Saraste), Belgian National, Polish Radio Symphony, Queensland Symphony, Moscow State Symphony, St Louis Symphony (David Robertson), Indianapolis Symphony (Boyd), Melbourne Symphony (Hrůša), amongst many others. He can be heard on the soundtracks of The Theory of Everything, Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina. Jack is a professor of Violin at the Royal Academy of Music.


Michael Liversidge
Mick says he is delighted and privileged to be involved  in the Brundibár Arts Festival 2020 and looking forward to exploring "The Last Cyclist".  Theatre credits include: George in "A Nightingale Sang" and Bernie in "My Night With Reg", both with less is MORE productions at the Middlesbrough Theatre, John O` Gaunt in tours (Yorkshire & Germany) of "Richard II", Falstaff in a pub tour of "Henry IV", Nick in "The Beggars of York" at York Theatre Royal, Alfie in "One Man Two Guvnors", Ebenezer Scrooge in a Northern tour of "A Christmas Carol", L/Cpl. Jones in "Dad`s Army" at the John Cooper Studio, York and as Michael in Lisa Holdsworth`s "Cutting The Cake" for Slung Low Shorts, The Hub, Leeds.  Film work includes: Sid in "Love`s Best Habit"-Shakespeare Short Film Festival Stratford-on-Avon 2016, Peter Lumley in "The Great Yorkshire Bank Robbery"(2016), Richard Layton in "Fractal"(2017) and Paul in "Magdalene, A Girl Out Of The Blue"(2018). TV credits include commercials for Ladbrokes(2018) and Glossop Caravans(2017 & 2018), Coronation Street, Cold Feet and The Queen & I.


Laura Lonsdale
Laura is a proud "Smoggy", born and bred in Middlesbrough, she trained at Sylvia Young Theatre School and ALRA. Leaving Drama school Laura went on tour with Hull Truck Theatre company in a show called STUDS. Since then Laura has never looked back, here are some of her further credits - Mandy Wild – Studs – Hull Truck theatre (national tour) and Arc – Stockton. Shelia – The Shy gasman – Southwark playhouse. Maxine – Like a virgin – National tour. Sandra – Beautiful thing / Reggie Fluety – Laramie project – Hazel Pearson theatre. Jean – Your home in the west – Middlesbrough theatre. Denise – Miss Crispy 1988 – National tour. Sandra – Beautiful Thing / Sarah – Your Home in the west / Helen Stott – A Nightingale Sang / Carol – Shakers / Edith Blithe Spirit / Katy - Revengers - All at Middlesbrough Theatre. Jackie – Waiting for Gateaux / Rita – Educating Rita – Both at Customs House. Mama Elf – Once Upon A Christmas – Gala Theatre Durham ... More


Richard Martin
Richard Martin has worked with most of the country’s leading orchestras. He studied at the Royal College of Music with Richard Walton and prior to that with William Lang. He was a member of the English Brass Ensemble for six years and has toured the world extensively with them, including visits to America, Canada, Europe and Asia. He has been Principal Trumpet of Royal Northern Sinfonia since 1988. During this time Richard has performed many of the great trumpet features with the orchestra, including Bach’s 2nd Brandenberg Concerto, through to the 20th Century. He started playing in brass banding, and continues to do so. He has made a number of recordings, and the latest is a joint venture with the local Reg Vardy Band to raise funds for The Clarence Adoo Trust.


Michael O'Donnell
Michael O’Donnell was born in Newcastle, but spent most of his childhood growing up in Perthshire, Scotland. He took up the oboe aged 13 and two years later gained piano and oboe scholarships to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Junior Department, studying with Stephen West. During these years he played principal oboe and cor anglais with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and Great Britain respectively. Mike moved to London in 2002 to study with Christopher Cowie and Gareth Hulse at the Royal College of Music as a Foundation Scholar, graduating in 2006 with 1st class honours. Mike was appointed 2nd oboe in the Irish Chamber Orchestra in 2009. Prior to this he worked as a freelance oboist in London playing guest 2nd oboe with many orchestras around the country, also appearing as guest principal oboe with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others ... More


Opera North Youth Chorus
The Opera North Youth Chorus (ONYC) provides young people aged 14–19 from across Yorkshire and beyond with exciting opportunities to further their musical education and talent through the support of a professional opera company. As well as developing their singing voices and musicianship skills in weekly sessions under the direction of Nicholas Shaw, members have the opportunity to work with professional directors and movement specialists to develop skills in drama and stagecraft. They also regularly take part in creative projects, working with composers and writers. The Chorus perform in exciting concerts and shows locally and nationally throughout the year. The Opera North Youth Chorus is supported by the late John Barchard and Dr Claire Barchard, The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, The Holbeck Charitable Trust and a grant for Arts Scholarships from the Leverhulme Trust.


Jonathan Quaintrell-Evans
Jonathan Quaintrell-Evans was born in Wiltshire, England, and attended Wells Cathedral School where he learnt with Simon de Souza. He went on to take undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he studied with Richard Bissill, David Pyatt, Christopher Parkes, Jonathan Lipton, Jeffrey Bryant and Alec Frank-Gemmill. Gaining first class honours and a distinction respectively, he was also awarded the Sheriff’s Prixe. As a freelancer, Jonathan plays regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and the John Wilson Orchestra. His numerous radio broadcasts have included the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Britten Sinfonia, and the BBC Concert Orchestra, and he has appeared on recordings with LSO Live and LPO Live labels, ... More


Alexandra Raikhlina
Alexandra Raikhlina was born in Moscow in 1983 and moved to Belgium in 1990. At the age of 13 she was Laureate of the “Charles de Beriot” competition before being awarded a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School, where she studied with Natalia Boyarsky. Later she received a full scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno and Krzsisztof Smietana. Alexandra has performed extensively as a soloist and a chamber musician in Belgium, England, Switzerland, Russia, Greece, Germany, Portugal and Hong-Kong. She has appeared in Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Fairfield Halls, Sage Gateshead, Centro Cultural de Belem, Elbphilharmonie.  .....


Stephen Reay
Although Stephen Reay was born in London, both his parents were born on Tyneside and come from a long line of Geordies. He took up the bassoon when he was fifteen years old and went on to study with Gwydion Brooke at the Royal Academy of Music where he was one of the few bassoonists to win the Academy’s Recital Diploma. For several years he played guest Principal with the Philharmonia, including performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante at the Royal Festival Hall and recordings with Itzhak Perlman and Giulini of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in 1980. In 1981 Stephen Reay was made Principal Bassoon with the Sinfonia and has appeared regularly as soloist. In 1986 he gave the first performances of Robin Holloway’s Bassoon Concerto, a Sinfonia commission, later broadcast on the BBC. In 1998 he gave the world première of Judith Bingham’s Bassoon Concerto, another Sinfonia commission. ... More


Louis Roberts
Louis has just recently  finished a tour of The Snow Queen with Northumberland Theatre Company and after spending his Christmas dressed as a reindeer and a dog, he is now up for something completely different, and this show certainly fits the bill. Louis is extremely excited to be sharing the stage with such talented performers and hopes that you will all enjoy the piece of theatre that we create together. Previous theatre credits include: Teechers (Durham Gala/York Theatre Royal), Peter Pan, Apples (Northern Stage), Red is the new blue (Live Theatre), Beauty and the Beast, The Little Maid who danced to every mood, Grimm Tales (NTC).


Hamid Sabi
Chair of Iranian Jewish Centre, London
Hamid Sabi was born in Tehran, Iran on 18 July 1947. He is an Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate practising in London, England. He studied economics at Tehran University (1966-70) and law at Dundee University (1972-74). He was the Secretary General of the Iranian Students Association for the UN (1968-70). He has acted as counsel and expert witness in major international commercial disputes. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Iran Tribunal, acted as counsel to the Iran Tribunal’s Truth Commission (June 2012) and the rapporteur of the Iran Tribunal Judgment (February 2013). He is presently Counsel to the International Tribunal into Forced Organ Harvesting from the Prisoners of Conscience in China. Hamid is the Chairman of the Iranian Jewish Centre in London.


Nicholas Shaw
Chorus Master
Nicholas Shaw is Youth Chorus Master of Opera North and Organist and Director of Chapel Music at Lincoln’s Inn in London. For Opera North this season he has prepared children for productions of La Bohème and Kurt Weill’s Street Scene as well as week by week work with the Youth Ensembles of the company. Next summer he will conduct these ensembles in productions of Britten’s The Golden Vanity and Weir’s The Black Spider in Halifax and Edinburgh. Nicholas is equally at home working with adult voices and in the last season has prepared the Chorus of Opera North for Garry Walker as well as preparing singers for English Touring Opera’s St Matthew Passion. As Director of Music at Lincoln’s Inn he is half way through a ten year commissioning project of substantial new choral works based on extracts from the writings of John Donne, one of the Inn’s most famous Preachers, and he has directed first performances of works by Casken, Dove, Esenwalds, Frances-Hoad and Woolf. Nicholas trained as organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford and studied at the Royal Academy of Music, specialising in choral conducting. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2012.


Samuel Smith
Born in Coventry, now Belfast based, Samuel's compositions have been performed in concert by various performers including the BBC Singers and The London Sinfonietta and in venues which include The Royal Albert Hall, The Purcell Room, The Wigmore Hall, St James Piccadilly, LSO St Luke's, and Brigenz Opera House. Samuel studied at the Royal Academy of Music for his Masters and The GSMD for his Bachelors, receiving the Charles Lucas Award, The Harvey Lohr Award, The Charles Black Fellowship, and the Countess of Munster Bursary.


Eilish Stout-Cairns
Following directly on from playing the role of Gerda in Northumberland Theatre Company’s Christmas tour of The Snow Queen, Eilish is extremely excited to have this opportunity - a chance to perform in a piece of theatre that will be a completely new experience. The Last Cyclist is a world away in both tone and style from many of her previous credits and Eilish is looking forward to the challenge. Previous credits include: Gerda (The Snow Queen-NTC), Feggis (Melva-Mortal Fools), Linda (Playing Up 11), Chrissy (Playing Up 10), Elflaura (Santa’s Naughty Elf), Lucy (Playing Up 9), Vanessa (The Big Time Fringe Tour).


Sol Taibi
After graduating his training course with the Newcastle Theatre Royal, Sol took part in the rehearsed reading of “Bandits” by C.P Taylor (Live Theatre), following this he has just finished performing in the pantomime “Beauty and The Beast” (Northumberland Theatre Company). Sol is extremely excited to be sharing the stage with some very seasoned performers and hopes to learn everything he can from this piece and the people involved. The Last Cyclist is very different from everything that Sol has done before so he can’t wait to get his teeth stuck into it. Previous theatre credits include: Fear and Misery of The Third Reich (Newcastle Theatre Royal), Taming of The Shrew by William Shakespeare (Newcastle Theatre Royal), Brilliant Adventures by Alistair McDowell and Sturm Und Drang by Steven Berkoff.


Gareth Twigg
Gareth Twigg is Principal Contrabassoon of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he has held since 2009. Under the tenure of Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko, highlights include recording the complete Shostakovich Symphonies for Naxos, touring Japan and playing the solo Contrabassoon part to ‘Never Smile at a Crocodile’. He also has a busy freelance career, performing as both Guest Principal Bassoon and Contrabassoon with the UK’s leading orchestras and ensembles. These include the LSO, LPO, Britten Sinfonia, John Wilson Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Aurora Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, BBC Philharmonic, Hallè and Philharmonia.  .....


Liubov Ulybysheva
Liubov Ulybysheva was born in Moscow and started playing the cello at the age of five. Having studied at the Gnessin Special Music School and the Russian Music Academy, she came to London in 2003 to continue her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Stefan Popov and Oleg Kogan, graduating with 1st class honours. Following that, Liubov completed a Master of Music Degree at the Royal Academy of Music with Professor Felix Schmidt, winning the Moir Carnegie Prize for cello on graduation. Liubov became the only cellist to win a prestigious scholarship from the Paganini International Competition funded by the Investment Programme Foundation, Moscow. She was also featured in the Reader's Digest magazine as one of the young stars of the Russian Hope feature.  .....


Gabriel Waite
Gabriel comes from Chichester in West Sussex. He started learning the cello, aged eleven, with Nigel McNestrie and later Sophie O’Flynn. In 1994 he gained a place to study with Eduardo Vassallo at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In 1999 whilst still at the RNCM Gabriel was a founder member of the Yeomans String Quartet. In 2001 the Quartet made the world premier recording of the String Quartet by Sir Arthur Sullivan and were semi-finalists at the Shostakovich String Quartet competition in Moscow. After living in Glasgow for four years, enjoying a busy freelance career as orchestral and chamber musician, Gabriel joined the cello section of Royal Northern Sinfonia. Gabriel is married to Jane Nossek, a violinist in Royal Northern Sinfonia. They live in Low Fell, Gateshead with their two daughters Maria and Lydia.


Alena Walentin
Alena Walentin is an Altus Artist and Vice-Chair of the British Flute Society. Alena is a recipient of numerous prizes and awards such as the first prizes in the British Flute Society’s competitions, International Flute Competition “Friedrich Kuhlau” in Germany and awards fromthe Worshipful Company of Musicians Award, the Hattori Foundation Award and the Wolfson Foundation Award. Alena played at the most prestigious UK venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, King’s Place, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Royal Albert Hall. Alena has performed solo works with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and has given recitals in most of European countries, United States, Canada, Asia, Russia and the United Kingdom.  .....


Mahdieh Zare Zardiny
Film Maker
Mahdieh Zare Zardiny considers her duty as a filmmaker and researcher to shed light on stories untold or ignored. Most recently her first feature documentary film “Sardari’s Enigma,” tells the story of Abdul Hossein Sardari, the Iranian consul who saved many lives during World War II in France. The documentary sent a powerful message at the Aladdin UNESCO conference in 2018; and received press in multiple international media outlets. With over 12 years experience of writing and directing documentaries along with narratives; her first short film, “An Iranian in Paris,” screened at the Cine-Rencontres de Prades Film Festival and broadcasted on Voice of America, a TV channel located in the U.S. In 2014.  .....