Meet the team!...
Head of Performance and Advanced Courses
Chris studied music at King's College Cambridge, studying composition with Robin Holloway. He then studied Cello at the Birmingham Conservatoire studying with John Todd and later with Natalia Pavlutskaya. Whilst at Birmingham he won a place on the CBSO scheme and came 2nd in the Sylvia Cleaver chamber music prize. He now teaches in the Bedfordshire area both privately and for local music services, conducting the Luton Youth Orchestra and heading the Saturday Music Centre. Chris plays with several local groups on a regular basis including regularly playing with Aylesbury Opera Group and performing the Elgar with the Luton Symphony Orchestra.
Head of Adult Courses
Lawrence Durkin was born in 1982 in Barnet, North London and began playing the cello at the age of 10. He made his concerto debut in 2003 performing Haydn's Concerto in C with the London Pro Arte Orchestra. Since then he has performed as a soloist and chamber musician across the U.K. He completed his studies with Leonid Gorokhov at the Royal College of Music as a Scholar supported by the Constant and Kit Lambert Award, Jacqueline Ward Award and the Astor Award. He received First-Class Honours for his Undergraduate studies, also at the RCM, having studied with Melissa Phelps and Moray Welsh. He has performed in master-classes to Alexander Baillie, Steven Doane, Johannes Goritzki, Louise Hopkins and Richard Lester. Until 2009 Lawrence was the cellist in the Harpham String Quartet whose performing highlights included appearances at the Wigmore Hall, Fairfield Halls and Rachmaninov Hall, Moscow. They also gave recitals at the Harrogate International Festival, Stratford-on-Avon Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, King's Lynn Festival, Chichester Festival, Leeds Castle, Honiton Festival and other music societies in the UK. During his time with the quartet he worked regularly with other prestigious musicians including Emma Johnson, Janet Hilton, the Chilingirian Quartet and the Bochmann Quartet. In 2007 they were selected as Young Artists by the Park Lane Group and performed in the New Year Series 2008 at the Purcell Room. He now gives recitals with the Janos String Trio who recently performed at the Leeds International Chamber Music Series, St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and St. James Piccadilly, London. Other highlights of his career to date have been when he was joined by former BBC Young Musician Mark Simpson during a concert of works by Mark-Anthony Turnage that was recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2008. During the previous year, he performed the Swan, the cello solo by Saint-Saens which accompanied the youngest of the Royal Ballet's principals, Marianela Nunez in her performance of the Dying Swan at the Grand Opera House in York. Lawrence currently teaches at St. Georges College in Surrey, Latymer School in Edmonton and Dame Alice Owens School in Hertfordshire. He is enormously passionate about teaching and encouraging players of all ages to discover and develop their own talent and musicianship.
Head of Intermediate Courses
Elizabeth first started learning the cello with Angela East and later with Rhuna Martin and Joan Dickson at the Purcell School where she was awarded a scholarship. She now divides her time between teaching around Oxfordshire, particularly for Oxfordshire Music Service, and performing. She has worked at Oxford Cello School since 1999.
Head of Junior Course
Erin is a cellist, teacher and musicianship trainer. She was awarded an Associate Performance Diploma with London College of Music at the age of 17, after studying for 5 years with Anne Christine Smith from the Halle Orchestra. Erin then went on to study cello at Birmingham Conservatoire with Jill Heartfield & Catherine Ardagh-Walter of the CBSO, graduating in 2001. During her studies at the conservatoire, she was part of the Folk, Andean & Medieval music groups and even took Medieval Harp as her 2nd study instrument! As part of this wide & varied background, Erin performed in the guitar & cello duo 'Strings Attached' and the Folk-Pop band 'Banska', for many years. Erin recorded with several local artists & bands, and 'Banska' released 3 albums between 2002-07. Since 2009 life has been a balance between music and family. She now has two young children who themselves now play the cello and lever harp. Erin now plays with a local orchestra called 'Asklepios'. Erin is a cello teacher for Birmingham Music Service and organises regular concerts of her own pupils and runs a cello ensemble once a year which has included harp, double bass, keyboard and even bass guitar. Erin is a qualified Colourstrings Music Kindergarten Teacher and has also studied Kodaly and Dalcroze Eurythmics. She previously worked for the Midlands Arts Centre with 6 months to 7 year olds in the Colourstrings Musicainship training programme. Classes included: listening, singing, percussion, dance, movement & musical games. More recently she has adapted these skills to teach in Sunday Club (ages 2.5-5) and run preschool christian activity sessions teaching Bible stories through music, singing, dance, puppets and craft. Erin has run Dalcroze sessions and taught on the Junior Course at OCS since 2005 and been the Head of the Course since 2008.
Matthew Forbes studied at the Royal Academy of Music and has since become a versatile and sought-after musician in many areas. He plays regularly with some of the UK's most prestigious ensembles including the Royal Opera House, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the BBC orchestras in London. He has been a soloist and chamber musician with many groups and has travelled extensively throughout Europe, North and South America, the Middle East and the Far East, as well as his work as a concert and recording artist in the UK. He also works as a composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, folk musician and jazz pianist. He led the 2015 schools composition programme for the London Symphony Orchestra, wrote a piece for 23 pianos for Loughborough Endowed Schools and a children's opera for the Birmingham Hippodrome as well as many pieces and arrangements for this course. His ceilidh band is a regular feature here and his annual junk-instrument samba band is not to be missed!
Sofiko is a multi-award-winning performer, having played in competitions across Europe. Her performances include playing in a chamber group with Julian Lloyd Webber and Valentin Erben. Sofiko she has played in prestigious venues such as Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall, Wagner Hall, St. James`s Church Piccadilly in London, Culture Hall, President Hall and Moscow Hall in Latvia and Tbilisi State Conservatory in Georgia. Currently Sofiko’s primary focus is on teaching whilst holding a deputy position at the Royal College of Music since 2015. Her students are national and international competition and festival award winners, regularly giving concerts all around England including central London. Successfully joined ProCoda, London Youth symphony orchestra, RCM and RAM Junior Departments.
David has studied the cello since the age of six. His post-school studies took him to the University of Manchester where studying under Bernard Gregor- Smith, of The Lindsay String Quartet, he performed Andrejz Panufnik cello concerto. After graduation David was offered a Leverhulme scholarship and a Countess of Munster award to undertake performance postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music where he studied with Leonid Gorokhov. Since completing his studies David has freelanced with a number of professional orchestras including Royal Philharmonic orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and London Musici freelance orchestra. David has also recently appeared as soloist in a performance of Dvorak cello concerto.
Helen began to play the 'cello at the age of eight with Doreen Cresswell in her home town of Sutton Coldfield. She subsequently went on to study with Catherine Ardagh-Walter of the CBSO and Bernard Gregor-Smith of the Lindsay String Quartet at the University of Manchester. Upon graduating in 2002, she received a Proctor-Gregg Performance Prize from the University. Following this, Helen gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Performance studying with Hannah Roberts at the Royal Northern College of Music. Helen has performed many concerti including the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Celli and Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. Other concerto performances include Haydn's Cello Concerto in D major with the Orchestra of the Swan and the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto No.1 with the Huntingdonshire Philharmonic Orchestra. Helen is a founding member of the Rivoli String Quartet which was formed in 1999 at the University of Manchester. Whilst continuing their studies at the RNCM they won prizes in several competitions. They were finalists in the 2006 Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Competition and also in 2006 won the Prix Ravel at the Academie Internationale de Musique, Maurice Ravel. The quartet were regular participants at IMS Prussia Cove and in 2007 they completed a Masters degree in String Quartet Performance at Sheffield University after studying intensively with Peter Cropper, leader of The Lindsays. Helen is a busy freelance cellist working in many genres. She performs regularly in the West End with shows such as Aladdin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Wind in the Willows and was previously the solo cellist for the national tour of Cameron Mackintosh's Oliver! as well as for ATG's national tour of West Side Story. She also performs with artists such as Sheridan Smith, Russell Watson, Chris de Burgh and Madness, often appearing on TV. Since 2013 she has been the principal cellist for Nevill Holt Opera. Her other orchestral experience includes working with the CBSO, Philharmonia and Manchester Camerata. Together with the first violinist from her quartet Helen gives regular concerts for the charity Music in Hospitals and she also actively raises funds for Macmillan Cancer Care by performing frequently with The Lydian String. When not playing or teaching the cello she enjoys sewing, baking, painting, walking and cycling.
Peteris Sokolovskis was born into a musical family in Novokuznetsk, Russia and he took up the Cello at the age of 6 with teacher Lija Sudraba in Riga, Latvia. In his time in Latvia he won various competitions including the national competiton 'Talent Latvia'. Through auditions Peteris was selected to play in Riga's M. Rostropovich festival youth ensemble. In that festival they were conducted by Rostropovich. In 2002 Peteris took 3rd place, the Audience Prize and the best interpretation of the compulsory piece in Tallin international competition 'Young Musician', in the final he played with the Tallin Chamber Orchestra. In 2003 Peteris received a place with a full scholarship at the Purcell School of Music where he studied 'cello with Prof. Alexander Boyarsky. In his time at the school Peteris played in the Wigmore Hall as a chamber musician several times and also played the Debussy Cello Sonata there. Through Auditions for the MBF String Award Peteris received the Geoffrey Shaw Scholarship. And he also received the Young Cellist Award from the Pierre Fournier foundation. Peteris Currently studies at the Royal College of Music with a foundation scholarship and also a Henry Wood Trust Award. His teacher is A. Boyarsky. Peteris has participated in masterclass with Bernard Greenhouse, Louise Hopkins and Robert Cohen. In 2010 he performed H. Villa-Lobos's 'Jet Whistle' with his sister Renate Sokolovska at the Royal Festival Hall. In 2011 he won the RCM Cello Competition and was awarded a Martin Musical Scholarship Award through competitive auditions and he was also selected to be part of the RCM Rising Stars concert series at the Cadogan Hall. Peteris is an active chamber musician and performs many contemporary pieces composed by his colleagues. He has been a member of teaching staff at the Oxford Cello School from 2009 and has been teaching privately from the age of 15.
Hannah studied at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, before moving to London to study with Melissa Phelps at the Royal College of Music. After graduating, Hannah continued her studies with Sue Lowe, as well as attending The Eton International Cello Course, where she had masterclasses with internationally acclaimed Cellists, such as Steven Doane, Johannes Goritzki, Alexander Balillie and Louise Hopkins. Since graduating, Hannah has performed regularly as a soloist, including in her own concert series, with regular performances in London and the Midlands. Recent solo recitals include a lunchtime concert at Christ Church Spitalfields. Following a busy and varied orchestral experience at The Royal College of Music, Hannah has worked with a number of professional orchestras, such as The Southbank Sinfonia and The New Professionals, including as Principal Cello in 2006. Venues have included The Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John's Smith Square, St Martin in the Fields and The Royal Opera House. Hannah has performed regularly with The New English Orchestra since 2007, often as Principal Cello. The New English Orchestra has recently performed in Rome and Salzburg and in recent UK venues including Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall and Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. Hannah currently teaches individual Cello lessons at Streatham and Clapham High School Junior Department, which is part of the Girls' Day School Trust. Hannah has previously worked at Fulham Prep School and for Tower Hamlets Music Service, Lewisham Music Service and Barking and Dagenham Music Service, where she taught individuals and small groups in primary and secondary schools on a weekly basis. She taught on Saturday mornings at Deptford Music Centre for four years, where she assisted with orchestral rehearsals, as well as individual and group teaching. Hannah has led and assisted with whole class Cello and Violin teaching in primary and secondary schools with pupils as young as 5 years old.
Paul first studied cello with Myra Chahin and Janet Tinbergen, and participated in master classes with Harro Ruijsenaas. He read Music at the University of East Anglia where, as part of the performers' course, he was able to further his cello studies in London with Christopher Bunting. After graduating, he was awarded a scholarship to Reading University, enabling him to complete a Master of Music degree in Performance Studies. Since then, he has given numerous concerto and recital performances and played in a wide variety of chamber groups. He has broadcast on the BBC, Independent Radio Network and Swiss Radio. He has recently recorded the works for cello and piano by Bortkiewicz. He is now Head of Strings at University of Southampton and is String Editor and Tutor for the Music Teaching in Professional Practice Course developed by Reading University and the Incorporated Society of Musicians. This is part of the International Centre for Research in Music Education. He is involved in conducting and has a particular interest in youth orchestra activities. In 1997 he set up the Eureka! Foundation and is now its Chairman. The Foundation provides an original way of supporting instrumental teaching and also promotes concerts and raises money for community groups. Recently, he was soloist in a performance of the Triple Concerto by Beethoven with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and, as cellist in the Franke Piano Quintet, he played in a major series of concerts at St John's Smith Square, London - a series which included the world premiere of the Quintet by Eduard Lalo. The Franke Quintet is currently in preparation to record three quintets by Boccherini.
Tristan is a versatile professional 'cellist, working in London. He has 25 years' playing experience, having studied both compositional techniques and classical 'cello performance. He has performed all over the world, playing a wide variety of styles, playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and George Michael to name a few. as well as performing, tristan has been arranging and writing music for various projects, including numerous documentaries and adverts. he recently co-wrote a 10 minute track for a show before the champions league final in the kraftwerk building in berlin in 2015, including 3 live sopranos, dancers, arialists and drummers, which received great acclaim from both the live performers and the audience.Tristan's skill in composition allied to his love of all different genres of music has helped him develop into an accomplished string arranger as well as having a large pool of talented and skilled string playing colleagues he draws on for session work. His ethos with any session work is to engulf himself in the artist's music, understand where it is coming from, and enhance the music with the addition of live strings.
Sheelagh was born in Belfast. She studied the 'cello with Amaryllis Fleming and Margaret Moncreiff at the Royal College of Music in London, where she received several prestigious prizes and awards. Having gained her Bachelor of Music degree and a teaching diploma, she spent a further two years studying in Manchester with Hannah Roberts at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she gained her post-graduate diploma. Sheelagh was then appointed Sub-Principal Cello of the RTE Concert Orchestra, a position she held for some years. Since then, she has enjoyed a varied freelance career combining chamber music and teaching with orchestral playing. Particular highlights include having worked with Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Sheelagh has also performed onstage with U2 and The Corrs. She has performed in venues worldwide, from the Royal Albert Hall to the Lincoln Center in New York, with orchestras including the Ulster Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and RTE National Symphony Orchestra. She recently toured China with the RTE Concert Orchestra, performing in the concert halls of Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. As a soloist and chamber musician, Sheelagh has performed in many venues, including St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Barbican Centre in London and, further afield, the Chicago Cultural Center, USA.
Belfast-born Andrew Nesbitt began playing the cello at the age of 7 with Morag Stewart. He then went on to study with Peter Dixon at the Royal Northern College of Music where he gained both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Cello Performance. As well as working regularly with the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Andrew also works with the RTÉ Concert and RTÉ National Symphony Orchestras in Dublin, and the English Symphony Orchestra. He has toured across Europe and the USA and performed in many venues, including the Albert Hall for the BBC Proms, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Carnegie Hall in New York City. Andrew has also performed on Radio 4 and often appears on BBC Songs of Praise. Andrew is also an arranger and studied with Adam Gorb and Gary Carpenter at the RNCM. He has written music for his cello duo "The Cellists" and his Manchester-based cello octet "8 cellos" which have performed in venues across the UK and Ireland. Andrew particularly enjoys playing his arrangements with the other staff in the OCS staff concerts! Andrew teaches in a number of schools in Belfast and at the Ulster College of Music. He is also the cello tutor for the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra. As well as teaching privately since 2004, Andrew has previously taught for Junior RNCM, the RNCM Junior Strings Project, Trafford Music Service, Music for Life, and has taught Musicianship and Cello for Yorkshire Young Musicians. Andrew has taught on Oxford Cello School since 2017.
Annette Cleary studied cello at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with Coral Bognuda, Ivan Andrews and Aisling Drury-Byrne. At the age of sixteen, she won an Arts Council grant to study with Antonio Janigro at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Other teachers included Andre Navarra, Paul Tortelier and Eleonore Schoenfeld. Annette studied at California State University, Fresno on scholarship, and graduated with a BA in music (magna cum laude). She then received a further scholarship to study at the University of Southern California, where she graduated with a Masters degree (magna cum laude).
While in the U.S., Annette was prizewinner of the Bell T. Richie Award, USC Leadership Award and the Los Angeles Young Artist’s Competition. She was also a recipient of numerous awards for academic work, including the President’s Prize, the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award and the National Collegiate Music Award. A German government grant (DAAD) enabled Annette to pursue postgraduate study at the Stuttgart Hochschule fűr Musik, where she graduated with a KA (Artistic Solo Degree).
Annette is a prizewinner of International competitions in Europe and the U.S. and has performed as soloist with many orchestras, including the Sűdwestfunk Orchester, RTE Concert Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra. In 1989 she was the first Irish musician accepted to the prestigious Schleswig-Holstein International Orchestra which toured Europe and Russia with Leonard Bernstein.
Annette has performed solo recitals and television broadcasts internationally, including a Southern African tour and five tours of Japan. In Ireland she has performed at major festivals and venues such as West Cork Chamber Music at Bantry House, Music for Wexford, Airfield House, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Music Network tours and the Cork Celebrity Recital Series. Annette has acted as jury member for the Bucchi International Chamber Music Competitions in Rome and the Antonio Janigro International Cello Competition in Croatia.
As Principal and Co-Principal cellist, Annette has worked with many orchestras and chamber groups including the RTE Concert Orchestra, D’Oyly Carte Opera, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Concorde and the Irish Piano Trio (with Dearbhla Collins and Michael D’Arcy). While based in the U.S. Annette played baroque cello as soloist with Los Angeles Musica Viva.
At present, Annette teaches cello and chamber music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and gives annual master classes at Ceol-na-Mara Summer School for Strings in Connemara and conducts regular masterclasses in Italy, Austria (Vienna), Croatia and Germany. She plays as guest principal cellist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and performs recitals regularly in Ireland. In 2010 she attained a Doctorate in Music (contemporary Irish music for cello). Recently she recorded a CD Rich and Rare with Reamonn Keary (piano) and she is cellist with Degani Piano Trio www.deganitrio.com (Rachel Quinn and Alan Smale) and baroque/traditional ensemble Sonamus. www.sonamus.ie Both of these ensembles have toured widely and recorded numerous CDs.
Born in Madrid, Sergio came to this country at the age of 12 and soon won a place as co-principal cellist in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, later becoming a student with Richard Lester at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As part of the Eka Quartet (formed at the GSMD) he has performed in venues such as the Wigmore Hall and the Austrian Cultural forum and in concert series and festivals such as the Norfolk Concert series, Guildhall Artists Barbican concerts, the City of London Music Festival, Richmond Concert Society and Ryedale Music Festival. The Eka Quartet took part in the coveted IMS Prussia Cove master class series in 2013. He has recently graduated from the RCM having completed his Master's in Performance (Distinction) with Helene Dautry and enjoyed opportunities to perform in the Purcell Room as well as being appointed section leader in projects with Sir Roger Norrington and Ilyich Rivas. Sergio enjoys a varied platform of performing opportunities, recording sessions and musical collaborations across arts and genres, with a particular focus on chamber music. Amongst other collectives, Sergio is a member of the exciting 12 ensemble which has quickly made a name for itself with its residency at The Forge and tours to Italy to perform at the late William Walton's house in la Mortella. They will be launching their debut album later this year and have featured in BBC Radio 3s In Tune programme.
Yue Tang, Sub-Principal cellist of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Born in Beijing, China, Yue studied cello at the renowned Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where he graduated with the highest student award. During his years at school, he performed recitals and chamber concerts in all the major concert halls in Beijing. At the time, his playing was both broadcasted on China Central Radio Station and China Central TV Station and recorded his first CD with “Ensemble Eclipse” for the German label “Wergo”. In 1997, after receiving a full scholarship from University of Southern California, he came to Los Angeles, US to study with Professor Eleanor Schoenfeld. In 1998, he transferred to Oberlin Conservatory of Music and continued his cello study with Professor Andor Toth Jr. During the three year study in Oberlin, he was the principal cellist of Oberlin Symphony Orchestra. He was the prize winner of Rio Hondo Young Musician Concerto Competition, Marina del Rey Concerto Competition, Chinese-American Showcase Competition and Kingsville International Competition. Yue joined Florida Philharmonic Orchestra in September, 2001, he won the national audition for Assistant Principal cello during his second season with the orchestra and held the position until the orchestra deceased. He is also performing regularly with the Palm Beach Opera, Atlantic Classic Orchestra, Miami City Ballet and Symphony of America. From 2004-2008, Yue was the principal cellist of Ars Flores Symphony Orchestra and co-principal cello of Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphonia in Florida. In June 2008, he won the international audition of the sub-principal cello position of RTÉ Concert Orchestra and joined the orchestra. He have shared stage with artists such like Mstislav Rostropovich, Luciano Pavarotti, PlacidoDomigo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Lang Lang, Sir. James Galway, Joseph Silerstein, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Zubin Mehta, Lalo Schifrin, John Williams, Karl Jenkins, Bryn Terfel, Angela Gheorghiu and many more. In 2012, his solo CD “Variations on Cello” was released and has well received by public and played often on RTE Lyric FM. He has also made his TV appearance on RTÉ One reality show “Instrumental” in 2012 as cello tutor.
Lisa grew up in a musical family. Her mother was a piano teacher and she and her siblings all learnt instruments. She started the piano when she was 6 and cello when she was 10. Playing music together helped to foster a real love of chamber music. During these early years she discovered how much fun it can be to play music with family, friends and other musicians. She joined the Merseyside Youth Orchestra at 15. After leaving school she went to the Royal Academy of Music in London to study cello with Derek Simpson and piano with Graeme Humphrey. As a student she took part in masterclasses with the renowned cellist Lynn Harrell - both as a cellist and also as an accompanist. She was awarded LRAM teaching Diplomas on both instruments, an Honours Degree and a Certificate of Advanced Studies for a 4th year on the cello. She was also awarded the John Booth Prize. After leaving the RAM Lisa embarked on an extensive teaching career, initially in West London. She coached chamber groups and orchestras and taught in various schools - Bute House Preparatory School, St Paul’s Girls’ School, Putney High and Lady Eleanor Holles in Hampton. It was always her passion to get children to play music together from an early age. She directed her own Orchestral Courses primarily for juniors. She formed a Saturday Music School and these both became very popular. During this period she was also asked to coach on the Oxford Cello School and in time became Junior Course Director from 1997 - 2002.