Julia was born and bred in Yorkshire and attended Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester. At the age of 18 she was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music to study violin with Eli Goren. She went on to postgraduate study at Nice Conservatoire, France to learn with one of Oistrakh’s pupils, Danielle Artur, (who she describes as terrifying!). After being awarded Premier Prix for Violin, she joined the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, the youngest member, at the age of 22.
She spent 15 happy years at her beloved BBC Phil recording CDs, performing in concerts and getting through an encyclopaedia of repertoire every week, noting that in this period she finally learnt to sight read! She also taught violin at Manchester University and became BBC Philharmonic’s Orchestral Mentor, training postgraduate students at the RNCM in orchestral technique – her top tip is always offer to buy the tea at the first rehearsal. She went back to University to take a Master’s degree in Performance and also became a member of the Degani String Quartet which were featured in Young Composer’s Competition on TV’s BBC 2, many moons ago.
In 2001 Julia met her husband, Malcolm, who is an orchestral manager in London, and she made the move “down south”. The London freelance scene kept her busy, playing with English Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, English National Opera and Philharmonia orchestras. During her career, she has also been invited to the Ulster Orchestra as guest leader and guest principal second violin for the Hallé and BBC Concert Orchestras. Teaching posts have taken her to the London College of Music and Hampton School and currently she teaches at Danes Hill School in Oxshott and Tiffin Girl’s School in Kingston.
Malcolm and Julia have two sons, Alasdair and Cameron, who are carrying on the family musical tradition. They both attend the Junior Guildhall School of Music on a Saturday; Alasdair studies composition, piano and cello and Cameron is a horn player and pianist. They live in leafy Surrey with their beloved spaniel, Louie and a cat called Guiseppe Verdi, who terrifies the dog
Principal Violin II
Julian joined the orchestra for the 1993/4 season shortly after moving to Hampshire from the West Midlands. This was in keeping with his resolve to enjoy music-making as a hobby whenever possible and orchestral playing has been very much part of the various chapters in his life, from the county youth ensembles in Hereford and Worcestershire through to York’s University and Guildhall Orchestras plus various pit, light and reheasal orchestras along the way.
Having been invited to lead the second violin section whilst the orchestra was still performing at the RAE Assembly Halls, he has had the privilege of working with many like-minded violinists over the seasons to build and maintain a strong sectional identity with those who appreciate delivering the depth and musical colour that composers inject into their writing for “the seconds”.
Music provides a welcome contrast and balance to Julian’s engineering-based career in the mobile communications business world and there is plenty of music to come home to with a family whose singing and (brass) instrumental pursuits avoid any risk of a quiet life.
Hannah grew up in West Sussex and began playing the violin aged four and then started the viola at the age of seven, achieving Grade 8 distinction at the age of fourteen. She was principal violist of both the West Sussex and Surrey County Youth Orchestras and was a member of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain. In February 2014 Hannah performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in a side-by-side scheme after the WSCYO received 2nd Prize at the Music for Youth Competition at Birmingham Symphony Hall. She graduated with 1st class honours from the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied with James Sleigh and Juan-Miguel Hernandez, after studying for four years with Miranda Davis.Whilst at the Royal Academy Hannah performed as a member of the Academy Symphony Orchestra and Academy Baroque Soloists in projects conducted by Marin Alsop, Jac Van Steen and John Wilson.
In addition to orchestral playing, Hannah enjoys performing as a soloist and in December 2018 performed Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with the Lewes Baroque Ensemble led by Julia Bishop and was subsequently invited to play the Stamitz Viola Concerto in December 2019. Hannah is also a keen chamber musician and has performed regularly in a violin and viola duo, string quartet and piano trio. Furthermore, she has attended various music courses, including Arpeggione Viola Music Course, Pro Corda, Grittleton Chamber Music Course and National Children’s Orchestra. On these courses and also in masterclasses Hannah has received coaching from Garfield Jackson, George Salter, Tamaki Higashi, Matthijs Broersma, Martyn Jackson, Warren Mailey-Smith and Angela Malsbury. In contrast to her classical viola playing, Hannah is also very interested in Baroque viola and historically minded performance. At the Academy she studied Baroque viola with Annette Isserlis. She has also played alongside members of the OAE, in a string scheme directed by Margaret Faultless.
In 2019, Hannah joined the Piccadilly Sinfonietta with whom she performed at St-Martin-in-the-fields, St. James’ Piccadilly, Ely Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral.
Hannah is also interested in the crossovers between biology, psychology, and music, with particular focus on body-mapping, Alexander Technique, and the Feldenkrais method. She is fascinated by these techniques and how they can be used to make playing both comfortable and efficient. Hannah plays on a 2018 viola by Lyon-based French luthier Lea Trombert.
Robin began learning the cello at the age of 7. He won a Music Scholarship to Hampton School when he was 11 and in his final year at school he performed the Elgar Cello Concerto in the end-of-year concert. Torn between science and music, he decided upon an engineering degree at the University of Birmingham, but continued having cello lessons at the Birmingham Conservatoire.
He spent 6 years at Birmingham, studying for a BEng degree and then a PhD in Materials Science. During this time he played in a number of university orchestras and ensembles, and became involved in the University’s Contemporary Music Festival.
Robin joined the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra in 1998, becoming principal cello a few years later. Between 2000 and 2002 he took cello lessons again with Christopher Bunting, the internationally renowned teacher and performer who was himself a pupil of the great Pablo Casals. Robin enjoys playing chamber music whenever the opportunity arises.
Principal Double Bass
David has been playing double bass for many years having progressed from clarinet while at secondary school. In 1979 David toured Australia with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, playing in Melbourne, in Canberra for the Governor General, and as part of the first British orchestra to play in Sydney Opera House. He has played with the FSO on and off since 1977.
David plays around the country with an orchestra based at All Souls Church in Central London, with the Hampshire Sinfonia and a number of local ensembles.
The clarinet is a much easier instrument to carry.
Vivian attended the Royal College of Music, studying the flute under the direction of Alexa Turpin, before taking a degree in Music and French at Keele University. During this time, she was a soloist at the Royal Festival Hall and then spent a year in Paris where she studied at the Conservatoire , before joining the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra on her return.
Until taking a career break to raise three children, she was a full-time teacher and invested considerable energy in directing a range of school productions such as Godspell, Oklahoma and Jesus Christ Superstar. During this period, she was also a peripatetic flute teacher and tutored the Surrey Youth Orchestra.
She has had a varied musical career, playing in several ensembles, singing and playing keyboards in bands, performing in amateur dramatics as well as directing musical shows. She now makes the occasional professional appearance playing the flute and spends time chaperoning in the West End, where her eldest son, Daniel, has performed roles such as Tiny Tim in Scrooge, Michael Banks in Mary Poppins, Gavroche in Les Miserables and he appeared with Rowan Atkinson in Oliver.
Barry joined the band of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment as a junior musician at the age of 15. In 1964 he became a member of the staff band of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps based in Deepcut. During his army career he toured in Europe and the Far East and played in many BBC radio broadcasts. Whilst in the army he studied the oboe with Derek Wickens, Principal Oboist with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
After leaving the army in 1976 he continued his musical career as a freelance musician, playing the oboe and cor anglais for various shows and grand opera productions in the south east of England. Barry is also a founder member of the local Pelly Concert Orchestra and has been with the FSO since the 1970s.
Gabriel Thomas studied clarinet with Victoria Samek through the Pimlico School
Special Music programme, a unique project which taught gifted young musicians
from every corner of the capital, within a comprehensive setting. Gabriel furthered
his studies through his teenage years at the centre for young musicians with their
school holidays Symphony Orchestra.
Having founded a successful construction business after leaving higher education,
Gabriel returned focus to his clarinet studies in 2018, and continues his learning with
Victoria Samek. When time off clarinet practice allows he likes to escape to the
country lanes on his bicycle. He lives with his partner Fiona, young son Percy and two rabbits.
Zoe started playing the bassoon at the age of 12 (having begun on the clarinet) as “no one else in the school played bassoon”! She then went on to study music with Stephen Maw at Trinity College of Music, graduating in 2000. She spent the next 10 years playing in a variety of ensembles and orchestras in and around the London area, before moving to Aldershot in 2007 to work at the University of Surrey.
Zoe has been principal bassoonist in the University of Surrey Orchestra since joining the University in 2007 and is also a member of Farnborough Winds. She joined the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra as a deputy during the 2019-20 season, being promoted to principal bassoon after a successful audition period.
In her ‘spare’ time Zoe is a keen equestrian, with a passion for rare breed Suffolk Punches, and is training to be an Equine Podiatrist.
Having graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Alison pursued a career as a freelance horn player for thirteen years. During this time she played with a variety of orchestras and ensembles including the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, the London Mozart Players, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Orchestra of English National Ballet and the contemporary music group Lontano. Alison was also a regular member of London’s West End theatre orchestras, playing in shows such as Miss Saigon, Singin’ in the Rain, Kiss Me Kate, Phantom of the Opera and Starlight Express.
In 1998, Alison decided that she wanted a new challenge and moved into primary school teaching. She is currently the Headteacher at Harmans Water Primary School in Bracknell, having previously led All Saints Church of England Junior School in Fleet.
Alison is married with two grown up children and when she is not working or playing the horn, she likes to follow football and is a season ticket holder at Aldershot Town!
Born in Manchester, Roy became a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain in 1973. In the same year, he enlisted into the Army as a Junior Musician in the Grenadier Guards. In 1986, Roy attended the Bandmaster’s Course at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall. Graduating in 1989, he was appointed Bandmaster of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. With this regiment, in the 1st Gulf War, he served in a medical role in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.
Retiring from the regular Army in 1997, Roy was commissioned into the Army Reserve and appointed Director of Music of the London-based Band of The Royal Yeomanry, a position he held for 22 years. In the same year, Roy commenced his civilian employment as Director of Instrumental Music at Danes Hill School in Oxshott. In addition, Roy has worked as a Residential Housemaster for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, and as a Course Manager for the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain.
In his spare time, Roy enjoys shooting, snooker and, in keeping with the FSO’s aviation history, he holds a Private Pilot’s Licence and part-owns a Piper Warrior light aircraft.
In the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Roy’s 46 years’ Army service was recognized when he was invested as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Chris received his early musical instruction on the euphonium at the Salvation Army in Salisbury. At 14 he was invited to join the local championship brass band and was fortunate to compete at both the prestigious British Open Brass Band Championships at Belle Vue in Manchester and the famous National Championships at the Royal Albert Hall. After military service with the Band of the Welsh Guards where he took part in all of the London ceremonial occasions, Chris returned to a career in engineering.
Taking up the Tuba soon after leaving the army, Chris has played in various brass and concert bands, joining the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra in 2004. As well as the FSO, Chris is principal tuba of the Band of the Royal Yeomanry and enjoys freelance tuba playing especially with brass quintets and 10 piece ensembles. Chris is also a recent student of the Double Bass, and is looking forward to the day when it begins to sound a little more like a musical instrument!