Music in Monkstown 2019 Performers

SACCONI STRING QUARTET

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The award-winning Sacconi Quartet are recognised for their unanimous and compelling ensemble, consistently communicating with a fresh and imaginative approach. Performing with style and commitment, the quartet are known throughout the world for their creativity and integrity of interpretation. Formed in 2001, their four founder members continue to demonstrate a shared passion for string quartet repertoire, infectiously reaching out to audiences with their energy and enthusiasm. The Sacconi enjoy a busy international career, performing regularly throughout Europe, at London’s major venues, in recordings and on radio broadcasts. The Sacconi are Quartet in Association at the Royal College of Music.


MARTIN JOHNSON

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Martin studied Cello at the Royal College of Music, London.

In 2000, he joined the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and moved to Dublin, where he was subsequently appointed Section Leader. 

In January 2008 Martin made his Irish debut as a soloist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, performing Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 1 in A minor Op.33. In January 2015 Martin gave the world premiere of Grainne Mulvey’s new Cello Concerto “Excursions and Ascents” as part of the RTÉ NSO’s 2015 Horizons Concert Series. Shortly afterwards, in March 2015, Martin made his eighth appearance as soloist with the RTÉ NSO performing the world premiere of Frank Corcoran’s brand new Cello Concerto to critical acclaim. This has since been recorded on the LyricFm Label (among other cello solo and chamber works by Frank Corcoran) and was released in June 2017.

As a soloist, Martin has given many other performances of Concerti by Korngold, Tchaikovsky Elgar, Robert Schumann, Joseph Haydn, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Sir Michael Tippett, Delius, Corelli, Ibert, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and notably Richard Strauss’s finest tone poem ‘Don Quixote’ op.35 for ‘Cello and Orchestra with the RTÉ NSO Conductor Pascal Rophé at Ireland’s National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Upcoming events include several performances in Autumn 2019 with the Dublin Chamber Orchestra of both Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations and Richard Struass’s incredible Romanze in Fmajor for Cello and Orchcestra and Enniskerry Composer Ina Boyle Psalm and Elegy with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra at the NCH in January 2020.

In 2006 Martin was invited to become a lifetime member of the World Philharmonic Orchestra. Martin plays a fine cello by Thomas Kennedy of London c.1810. Martin also plays an exceptional French bow by Eugene Sartory from the personal collection of the late and celebrated bow maker, archetier and luthier Bernard Millant.

Martin is also supported by Music Network’s Music Capital Scheme, funded by The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Ireland. Music Network is funded by The Arts Council, Ireland.


John Finucane

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Clarinettist John Finucane has been Principal Clarinet with Ireland's RTE National Symphony Orchestra since 1995. He has also had an active career as a soloist, chamber musician and conductor in Ireland and abroad. Described by Gramophone magazine as 'an outstanding virtuoso', on the release of his CD “Clarinet Variations,” he has worked with the Ulysses Ensemble, the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Irish Film Orchestras. He has appeared regularly on radio and on television programmes, including RTE's The Symphony Sessions and Britain's The South Bank Show. He has a particular affinity with chamber music and has worked with many groups, including the Ysaye, the Navarra, the Con Tempo and the Vanbrugh Quartets.

John is also a conductor of note, having studied with Janus Furst and Albert Rosen amongst others, and has regularly conducted the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. In July 2018 he stepped in at fifteen minutes notice to conduct the NSO in a concert for the President of Ireland at Aras an Uachtaráin.

He is one of the founders of the Dublin Chamber Orchestra and has been the Musical Director of the Hibernian Orchestra for nearly thirty years. Despite his hugely busy life as a performing artist and conductor, John has found the time to join the faculty of the Royal Irish Academy of Music. His many tours have included China, as a soloist as well as with the National Chamber Ensemble of Ireland and Academy Chamber Ensemble performing to sell-out audiences. Two tours to China are planned for 2019.

He is the director of Music in Monkstown since it was founded in 2014, and continues to promote musical events in the village with the assistance of a wonderful voluntary committee. A recent development has been the launch of ‘Music in Monkstown at Home’, a revival of the ‘house concert’ that he hopes will become a regular event in the Monkstown social calendar. He will be playing the Beethoven Septet on Saturday 8 September with the RTE Contempo Quartet, along with John Hearne, bassoon, Peter Ryan, horn and Aura Stone, double-bass.

His CD, “French Holiday”, recorded in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, was released last year on the Genuin label and was followed by a recording in January, in the same hall, of music from Ireland, released this month and already reviewed by MusicWebInternational: “…heartbreakingly beautiful…The playing is superb”.

He recorded a further CD last August for the German label Dabringhaus of the three sonatas for clarinet and piano by Grigori Frid. This is the premiere recording of these recently discovered works by the great Russian composer, and is now available.

John is a D'Addario Woodwinds Performing Artist.


HUGH TINNEY

Born in Dublin in 1958, Hugh Tinney first came to international recognition by winning first prize at both the 1983 Pozzoli and 1984 Paloma O’Shea piano competitions in Italy and Spain, and since then he has performed in more than thirty-five countries throughout Europe, the United States, Latin America and the Far East.  A prize in the 1987 Leeds Piano Competition earned him a busy career in Great Britain, performing with many major orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham, Royal Liverpool, Royal Scottish and BBC National of Wales.  He has performed more than sixty different concertos.

Hugh has made a major contribution to Irish concert life for over thirty years, including multiple solo recital series, chamber music series, and frequent concerto appearances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra. Conductors he has worked with in Ireland include Colman Pearce, Bryden Thomson, Proinnsías O'Duinn, Alexander Anissimov, Gerhard Markson, David Brophy, Gavin Maloney and Kenneth Montgomery. 

Since the mid-1990s, he has played chamber music with many distinguished individuals and groups; he and violinist Catherine Leonard have collaborated as a duo for many years.  Chamber music partners have included the Borodin, Tokyo, Vanbrugh, ConTempo and Vogler Quartets, Steven Isserlis, Julian Rachlin, Jörg Widmann, Alban Gerhardt, Guy Johnston, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Bernadette Greevy, John Finucane, Carol McGonnell, Finghin Collins and John O'Conor. From 2012 to 2014, he toured China several times with the Academy Chamber Ensemble.  He is a frequent performer at chamber music festivals, including Bantry, Killaloe, Sligo and Great Music in Irish Houses.

A recipient of a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland in 2006 to work on contemporary music, he performs music by many Irish and international contemporary composers.  He has recorded solo, chamber and concerto repertoire for Decca, Naxos, RTÉ lyric fm and several other CD labels.  

From 2000 to 2006 Hugh Tinney was Artistic Director of the Music in Great Irish Houses festival.  He is currently joint Artistic Director of the Westport Festival of Chamber Music.  He teaches at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and has been a jury member at several international piano competitions, including Santander and Dublin.  He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by the National University of Ireland in 2007.  

In 2018, in recognition of his 60th Birthday on 28th November, Hugh fulfilled some key celebratory engagements - a solo recital in June for Great Music in Irish Houses in Dublin; a 12-stop recital tour of Ireland & Northern Ireland in November, jointly funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; and a performance of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the RTÉ NSO under Jonas Alber to a sold-out National Concert Hall in Dublin.


Amy Gillen

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Irish Flutist Amy Gillen plays with ‘incredible dexterity and musicality’ and ‘sparkling fluidity and pristine clarity’. This review comes from the Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year Final by music critic Dick O’Riordan where Amy was the winner of the 2018 Irish Freemasons Young Musician of the Year and was also awarded the Conrad O’Sullivan Memorial Award for the best woodwind/brass performance in the competition. Ancillary prizes include performances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, a recital in the John Field Room in the National Concert Hall Dublin and a concert at the ‘Music in Monkstown’ series.

Amy made her solo debut concerto performance with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, playing the Liebermann Flute Concerto, in April 2018 and she also played the Chaminade Concertino with the RTÉNSO on June 25th in the National Concert Hall. She is currently studying for her Masters in Music Performance in Flute at the Royal College of Music London, as a Russell Race Scholar. She completed her BA in Music Performance in Flute with First Class Honours at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in June 2018. Most recently, Amy was awarded the McCullough Cup and RTÉ Lyric FM Bursary at the 2019 Feis Ceoil Dublin. In November 2018, Amy made her debut performance at the Wigmore Hall in London where she was awarded the 2018 Irish Heritage Bursary for Performance. Commenting on the bursary being awarded, John Gilhooly OBE Chairman of the adjudicators and director at the Wigmore Hall said, “Amy is an immediately engaging artist from the moment she steps on the platform. She is a true musician in every sense. She greatly impressed the jury and this bursary comes at an important time in her development.” Amy has won numerous prizes, which include the Sir James Galway Rising Star Award and a 14K Gold Nagahara head joint for her flute at the 2017 Galway Flute Festival, Switzerland; the Flax Trust Bursary and the Audience Award at the Flax Trust Music Awards in Belfast in October 2017; a piccolo at the 2016 Galway Flute Festival, Switzerland; the Yamaha Woodwind and Brass Bursary for Ireland in 2015; the most promising musician at the Clandeboye Music Festival Belfast and a Haynes head joint at the 2015 Galway Flute Festival, Switzerland.As part of the Sir James Galway Rising Star Award, Amy gave a recital at the 2018 Galway Flute Festival Switzerland, which was supported by Culture Ireland. Amy also received funding towards the purchase of a new flute by the Music Network Music Capital Scheme as is supported by the Arts Council Travel and Training Award.

Amy regularly deputises with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and has deputised with the Ulster Orchestra. She has taken part in the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra Mentoring Scheme (2015-2017) and she has also been selected to participate in the BBC Symphony Orchestra Pathway Scheme for 2018/2019. Amy was selected as Principal Flute of the Royal College of Music Chamber Orchestra to play in Windsor Castle for Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. She was also Principal Flute of the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra for concerts conducted by Rafael Payare and John Wilson.


TING ZHONG DENG

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Ting-Zhong Deng was born into a well known musical family in Shanghai, China and started violin lessons with his cousin at the age of four, during the period of the Cultural Revolution. He was accepted into the Primary School affiliated to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1978, the very first class of its kind during the post Cultural Revolution period.

Following the family tradition of studying abroad, he then went to the Royal College of Music in London in 1988. There he studied with Prof Trevor Williams, former Concertmaster of BBC Symphony Orchestra. After leaving the Royal College of Music in 1989 he started to work with the City of Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and he also acted as solo violin in the London West End show, M Butterfly.

Since joining the RTE National Symphony Orchestra in 1990 he has tirelessly promoted Irish musicians and music in visits to China. He founded the National Chamber Ensemble in 2009.


NATIONAL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE 

The National Chamber Ensemble was founded in 2009, with musician from the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, with a view to touring China. Since then it has performed regularly in Shanghai, Suzhou and Ningbo as well as concerts in the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. The group has represented Ireland in both the Shanghai and Milan Expo. Recently re-launched the group is planning several concerts around Ireland.


Emma Abbate

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The Neapolitan pianist Emma Abbate enjoys a demanding career as a piano accompanist and chamber musician, working with some of the finest singers and instrumentalists of her generation. She has performed in duo recitals for international festivals and concert societies in Salzburg, Lisbon, Naples, Ischia, and Koscierzyna, and at many prestigious UK venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, Royal Opera House, St John’s Smith Square, St George’s, Bristol and at the Aldeburgh Festival, in addition to broadcasts on BBC Radio 3.

Described as "an amazingly talented pianist" by the leading Italian magazine Musica, Emma is releasing a series of recordings devoted to 20th century Italian vocal chamber music, the latest of which is the world-première Sera d'inverno: Songs by Ildebrando Pizzetti with the critically acclaimed mezzo-soprano Hanna Hipp for Resonus Classics. She has previously recorded the world-première disc of Shakespeare Sonnets by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco with the BBC New Generation Artist Ashley Riches also for Resonus Classics, and L’Infinito: a musical journey through 20th century Italian songs with the mezzo-soprano Kamelia Kader, including works by Respighi, Casella, Alfano and Malipiero. 

Emma cultivates an active interest in historical keyboards, and has performed and recorded on a range of original instruments at Finchcocks and Hatchlands. Her latest release is the second volume of Mozart's complete piano duets on period instruments with Julian Perkins for Resonus Classics. This album is the first to be recorded on the newly-formed  Richard Burnett Heritage Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments. Their first volume was described by Early Music Review as "exemplary". 

A keen advocate of contemporary music, Emma has also released two discs devoted to works by Stephen Dodgson for Toccata Classics: world-première recordings of his cello and piano music with Evva Mizerska, and his piano quintets with the Tippett Quartet. The quintets disc has just been named a MusicWeb International Recording Of The Year 2017.

Emma's discography also includes the world-première recording of works for cello and piano by the late-Romantic English composer Algernon Ashton with Evva Mizerska for Toccata Classics. The disc has been highly praised by critics and rated among the ‘Best Finds of 2012’ by Classical Lost and Found. Their previous CD – the world-première recording of complete works for cello and piano by the contemporary Polish composer Krzysztof Meyer – was placed by William Zagorski of the American magazine Fanfare in his “Top 5” of all the CDs published worldwide in 2009.

Based in London, Emma is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and a staff coach at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Following her graduation from the S. Pietro a Majella Conservatoire in Naples and an Advanced Diploma from the S. Cecilia Conservatoire in Rome, Emma studied in London with Yonty Solomon. She completed her studies with Geoffrey Pratley as a scholar at the Royal Academy of Music, from where she graduated with distinction. She was also awarded an Italian Literature and Culture degree cum laude from the Federico II University in Naples, and has been elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of her ‘significant contribution’ thus far to the music profession.


CEYBELE’S FLUTES

MIRIAM KACZOR

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Having always been fascinated by early music, Miriam picked up the traverso while studying for her BA and was initially mentored by the organ/harpsichord professor, David Adams. Encouraged by a class with Jana Semeradova, she continued to teach herself until receiving an Arts Council Travel and Training Award, which enabled her to take regular lessons from Lisa Beznosiuk and Rachel Brown in London. Since then she has performed with period-instrument groups such as Ex Cathedra, Camerata Kilkenny, Ensemble Marsyas and is a regular guest with the Irish Baroque Orchestra. As a Britten-Pears Young Artist, she has taken part in Bach Cantata projects directed by Philippe Herreweghe and Mark Padmore. She was also a scholarship participant of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra mentoring programme, where she worked with members of Tafelmusik, Opera Atelier and Claire Guimond.

An accomplished modern flautist, Miriam was the Irish Freemasons' Young Musician of the Year 2015 and recipient of the innaugural RDS Jago Award in 2017. She has appeared as soloist with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Dublin Orchestral Players and the Esker Festival Orchestra. A keen chamber musician, she has previously performed with the Vanbrugh Quartet, Crash Ensemble, Westland Wind Quintet and at the Killaloe, Westport, Sligo and East Cork festivals. She is a member of the Dublin-based experimental new music group, Kirkos Ensemble, and has brought contemporary Irish music to audiences at home, as well as in England, New York and Beijing.

A graduate of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, she studied flute with William Dowdall and piccolo with Patricia Morris. She also spent a semester in the class of Barbara Gisler-Haase in Vienna and is currently taking lessons with Michael Cox.

Miiram is grateful for the support of Music Network funded by the Arts Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, RTE lyric FM, Flax Trust, South Dublin County Council, RIAM, Tom and Ann Jago, and the ever-supportive Bill Dowdall.

FIONNUALA MACMAHON

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A keen early musician, Fionnuala began her recorder studies with Aedin Halpin at the RIAM and continued with Andreas Böhlen at the Kunsuniversität Graz, Austria.

The winner of numerous awards and scholarships, Fionnuala was notably awarded the ‘Libertas Lebt’ prize at the Liebenberg Flute and Recorder Festival 2015 in Liebenberg, Berlin. As part of her award she was presented with a Renaissance G alto recorder made by Francesco Li Virghi. 

As a chamber musician, Fionnuala has worked alongside Dorothee Oberlinger, Michael Martin Kofler, Joshua Rifkin, performed at the Sligo Baroque Festival and has collaborated many times with the ballet company of the Graz Opera on projects bringing music and dance to public spaces around the city. She has performed as a soloist with the Hibernian Orchestra, the Fr McNally Chamber Orchestra and Trinity Orchestra Dublin and has had masterclasses from Dorothee Oberlinger, Bolette Roed, Dan Laurin and Susannah Borsch, amongst others. Fionnuala also enjoys exploring the contemporary music repertoire written for the recorder as both a soloist and in a collaborative setting.  

She currently divides her time between furthering her musical education and studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin. 

 

GABRIELE DIKCIUTE

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Gabriele Dikciute was born in Vilnius, Lithuania. After completing her studies at M. K Ciurlionis School of Arts she came to Ireland and began her Bachelor Degree in cello performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music under the tutelage of Miriam Roycroft. During her time there Gabriele took part in various festivals and music courses throughout Europe and the USA, as both a chamber musician and a soloist. In 2017 she was invited to play the piece ‘Snow’ for percussion ensemble and solo cello by Chinese composer Tan Dun in New York University. She recently gave a solo performance of D Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. 

Gabriele has a keen interest in Baroque music and has just completed the 1-year baroque course at the RIAM under the tutelage of Aoife Ní Athlaoich. She performs regularly with her ensemble, Westland Baroque, with whom she recently had the privilege of playing at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival. During her time as a student at the RIAM, Gabriele gave multiple concerts with various Baroque ensembles in New York and Budapest.

Gabriele also enjoys composing and arranging film music and is part of the eclectic music ensemble, Glasshouse Collective. 

 

DAVID ADAMS

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A former organ scholar of St Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity College Dublin, David Adams studied in Freiburg (Ludwig Doerr) and Amsterdam (Piet Kee and Ewald Kooiman). He won prizes at international competitions in Bruges, Speyer and Lüneburg, and was the first winner of the Dublin International Organ Competition, the only Irish winner of the competition to date. David performs regularly with many ensembles including the Irish Baroque Orchestra, and has recorded extensively both as a soloist and an ensemble player. In 2007 he was awarded a PhD from the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, for his work on the organ music of Max Reger. David lectures in organ and harpsichord and opera studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and is Head of the Early Music Department.


CARA BERRIDGE

Playing in the Sacconi Quartet takes up most of Cara's life, rehearsing, performing, writing emails etc! Having had the same members since they started together in 2001 has been very intense but wonderful exploring the repertoire and the world together.

Quartet life is busy but when the chance arises, Cara enjoys other music challenges including playing in a piano trio which meets a few times every year for rehearsal and concert periods and also playing duo repertoire with various pianists. Cara also plays in chamber orchestras such as Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Britten Sinfonia, Aurora Orchestra and London Chamber Orchestra.

Cara graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2002 with First Class Honours and continued her studies as the Amaryllis Fleming Scholar, receiving her Postgraduate Diploma and Advanced Diploma with distinction in 2003 and 2004. Sacconis are currently Quartet in Association at the RCM, coaching quartets and giving recitals and master classes. Last year Cara taught cello at the RCM and also teaches privately.

Cara plays a Nicolaus Gagliano cello from 1781, generously on loan to her from the Royal Society of Musicians, a charity which helps musicians in need.


ROBIN ASHWELL

Robin Ashwell is well known as the viola player of the Sacconi Quartet, one of the UK’s finest string quartets.  With the Quartet, he made his Wigmore Hall debut in 2004, and since then has performed at all of London’s major venues, broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3 and appeared on numerous CDs.

With the Sacconi Quartet, Robin has collaborated with some of the world’s finest musicians, including Mark Padmore, Pekka Kuusisto, Melvyn Tan, Guy Johnston, Alasdair Beatson, Tom Poster, Bellowhead’s Jon Boden and actor Timothy West, and has premiered works by Jonathan Dove, John McCabe, Graham Fitkin, György Kurtág, Paul Patterson, Simon Rowland-Jones, Robin Holloway, John Metcalf and Alun Hoddinot.

Robin has made many recordings, including five CDs on the Sacconi Records label and three world-premiere CDs of works by Dove, Fitkin and McCabe for Signum Records.  He has performed concertos by Walton, Berlioz, Mozart and Elis Pehkonen, and collaborated with Roger Chase, Garfield Jackson, Yukiko Ogura, Douglas Paterson and Andriy Viytovych in a concert of viola-ensemble music entitled Viola Invasion.  More recently he has performed John Woolrich’s haunting Ulysses Awakes for viola and strings.

Robin’s formative years of study were at the Kent Centre for Young Instrumentalists, where his teacher was Marguerite Wilkinson.  After school he studied for six years at the Royal College of Music, first with Ian Jewel and then with Andriy Viytovych as an Associated Board scholar.  Whilst at the College, he was awarded all the major viola prizes including the Cecil Aronowitz Prize, and the Tagore Gold Medal, the College’s highest prize in recognition of achievements and contribution to College life.  He also studied baroque and classical viola there with Jan Schlapp, Catherine Mackintosh and Annette Isserlis.

Robin combines his work in the Sacconi Quartet with a love for and dedication to teaching.  He is Head of Strings at Westminster School, teaches at Sevenoaks School and privately, and coaches chamber music at the Royal College of Music.  He is indebted to Ellen Solomon, whose beautiful Sacconi viola of 1934 he is privileged to play, and Simon Rowland-Jones, whose guidance over the last few years has been invaluable.


HANNAH DAWSON

Hannah was very fortunate to be born into a house full of music. At that time, her mother was a violinist in the LPO, and her father an opera singer. Her passion for playing music with others was ignited by violin duets with her mother, and later on by becoming a member of a chamber orchestra ‘National Isis String Academy’, and the Kent County Youth Orchestra where she met Ben and Robin. She started violin lessons with Howard Davis at the age of 14. He was a very inspirational teacher, and encouraged her to be less inhibited and to really communicate with her playing.

She then studied with Ani Schnarch at the Royal College of Music, and it was there that she joined the quartet in her 2nd year.

Outside quartet, other musical pursuits include; John Wilson Orchestra and Aurora Orchestra. Hannah had a violin study guide published by Sanctuary in 1995. Recently she travelled to Mumbai on behalf of the charity ‘Songbound’, and helped choir leaders prepare their children’s choirs for Christmas concerts. She hopes to return someday with the quartet. Hannah loves going to Prussia Cove, Cornwall and taking part in the International Musicians Seminar and playing chamber music with musicians from around the world.

She adores living in South East London in a big house full of lovely friends.


BEN HANCOX

Ben Hancox is the leader and founder member of the Sacconi Quartet. Since their formation at the Royal College of Music in 2001, the quartet has won international competitions and has toured extensively in Britain and abroad. 

Having started playing at the age of four, he studied violin with Faith Whiteley and Serguei Fatkouline, and with Felix Andrievsky at the Royal College of Music. At the RCM Ben won both the major violin prizes. He left with a first class honours degree and was awarded a distinction in his postgraduate diploma in performance.

Described by the Observer as ‘Fearless and exciting’, Ben has earned a trusted reputation as a soloist and chamber musician. He regularly participates in the International Musicians Seminar at Prussia Cove, and the Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival, and through these festivals, has formed many friendships and musical partnerships with performers from around the world.

Ben has recorded widely with his quartet, both on the group’s own label, Sacconi Records and for Signum Classics. Their world premiere recording of Jonathan Dove’s chamber music, on Signum was both Critic’s Choice and Recording of the Month in Gramphone Magazine. Ben also records music for film and TV, and has also played the Argentine Tango for BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing! 

As well as performing, Ben enjoys coaching chamber music at the Royal College of Music and at  festivals around the UK. He plays on a violin by Simone Sacconi from 1932, which is generously on loan from the Royal Society of Musicians. 

Ben has a wife and two young children. He has juggled flaming torches (not near his family).


FERGAL CAULFIELD

Fergal Caulfield is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained BA and PhD degrees in music, specialising in the late serial music of Stravinsky.

He studied piano with Peter Dains at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and the organ with Professor Gerard Gillen at the Pro-Cathedral Dublin, and also attended various scholarship masterclasses in the UK and Belgium. He holds performance and teaching diplomas in both instruments. 

As well as numerous performances in Europe, he has given solo recitals at most of the major concert venues in Ireland, including the National Concert Hall, the Wexford and Galway Arts Festivals, St. Michael’s Church Dún Laoghaire, the Pro-Cathedral Dublin, and Trinity College Chapel. He has additionally appeared as soloist in concerto performances with a number of ensembles, including both the RTE National Symphony and RTE Concert Orchestras (in the organ symphonies of Marcel Dupré, Camille Saint-Saens and Aaron Copland and, most recently, John Buckley's organ concerto and Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva). He is a former prizewinner of the Dublin International Organ Festival (now Pipeworks) and is also much in demand as a vocal and instrumental accompanist.

In additions to his interests in the fields of solo and chamber music, Fergal works regularly with the RTE National Symphony and RTE Concert Orchestras, Chamber Choir Ireland, the RTE Philharmonic Choir and Dun Laoghaire Choral Society.


DEARBHLA BROSNAN


Regarded as one of the leading accompanists of her generation in Ireland, Dearbhla Brosnan began her musical studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music where she studied piano with John O'Conor. She received an Honours Degree in Music from Trinity College Dublin, before commencing her postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music, London, where her teachers included John Streets and Iain Ledingham.

Dearbhla has performed extensively throughout Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, the United States and the Far East as a recitalist and chamber musician, in venues from Dublin’s National Concert Hall to St Martin-in-the-Fields. She regularly performs with Irish soprano Celine Byrne with whom she has given concerts in Portugal, Switzerland, Bratislava, Italy, and at St. James's Piccadilly, London and in Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall.

As an instrumental accompanist at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dearbhla has worked with many distinguished musicians including violinists Daniel Rowland and Baiba Skride, cellists Daniel Müller Schott and Alban Gerhardt, clarinettists Jörg Widmann and Michael Collins and Flautist Sir James Galway.    

She has frequently broadcast on both television and radio and has worked as official accompanist for music festivals and competitions including the RTÉ Musician of the Future Festival, the Freemasons’ Young Musician of the Year and the Great Music in Irish Houses Festival.  

Dearbhla is passionately committed to teaching and in addition to her own studio at the RIAM, has given classes in the United Kingdom, Italy, China and New Zealand.

Dearbhla was recently appointed Head of Chamber Music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.