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Franco-British Society

Concert Biographies

The Piatti Quartet members are former or current award-winning students of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music where they have studied with members of the Chilingirian Quartet, Amadeus Quartet, Alberni Quartet and Vellinger Quartet. In 2007 The Royal College of Music commissioned them to give the premiere performance of William Hurlstone's Phantasy String Quartet (also recorded), marking the composer's centenary. Between them the members of the Piatti Quartet hold a range of prizes including MBF Awards, Martin Musical Scholarship Awards, the Croydon Concerto First Prize and Making Music Awards. The Piatti String Quartet is extremely grateful for the generosity and support of Ian Ellis. Over the past three years the Piatti String Quartet has worked extensively throughout the UK and Europe. They have performed at venues around London including the National Gallery, St James's Piccadilly and Senate House. They are also busy working for various festivals and have most recently performed at the Northern Aldborough Festival and the Brantwood Concert Series.

Award winning harpist Paula Popa has performed for HRH The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, the Archbishop of Canterbury, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, Princess Marina Sturdza of Romania, Baroness Scotland, Lord Eddie George (former governor of the Bank of England) and many other prestigious figures. Having won five First Prizes in the UK, Paula has gone on to perform solo recitals in some of the most prestigious venues in London including Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, Saint James's Piccadilly, Saint John's Smith Square, Handel House Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection and the National Gallery. Paula has recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Advanced Performance from the Royal College of Music, London.

Jonathan Parkin was born near Durham in 1984, graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2007 with a first class BMus degree, and was awarded both a Wilkins-Mackerras and a H R Taylor Trust scholarship to continue his postgraduate studies there.He is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Craxton Memorial Trust, and holds an MBF Education Award. He studies with Robert Hill and Richard Hosford. He has performed at London venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, St Martin-in-the-Fields and St James's Piccadilly. This summer he won Second Prize in the Tunbridge Wells International Young Artists Competition. At the RCM, Jonathan has played principal clarinet in orchestras under Ashkenazy, Haitink and Norrington. Last year he worked alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra, having won a place on their 'Future Firsts' apprentice scheme for 2007-8. This April, he appeared in a sold-out concert at the Purcell Room with the Future Firsts Ensemble. He has since appeared with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He is currently on trial as Principal Clarinet (second seat) with the Northern Sinfonia. He remains an active chamber musician, and performed in Summer 2008 with the Fibonacci Sequence.

Sebastian Stanley was born in Spain in 1984 but moved to England aged four. He started playing the piano at the age of 13, and completed his BMus degree at the Royal College of Music under Niel Immelman, and his postgraduate degree (also at the RCM) with Ruth Nye. He was a finalist in the 2008 Royal Overseas League Competition, and has won the London Emanuel Trophy, the prize for Best Performance of a work by a British Composer at the International Haverhill Competition, and the Chappell Gold Medal (2006) at the Royal College of Music. He won the Gold Medal at the International Louise Henriette Competition in Oranienburg, Germany in 2004. He has also won many awards at UK festivals. Sebastian performs widely in the UK and in Germany, in venues including Steinway Hall and St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. He has given 20 recitals in the UK this year. His concerto repertory includes several of the Mozart Piano Concertos, and Liszt's Piano Concerto in E flat major (which he performed at the age of 17). Sebastian has recently performed at the Texas International Piano Festival, performing at venues throughout Fort Worth.

Philip Achille is a second year undergraduate student at the Royal College of Music in London, where he studies alto saxophone and chromatic harmonica on the BMus degree programme. He has been playing the chromatic harmonica for ten years and has taken part in more than 25 festivals, competitions and concerts in seven countries: the UK, USA, Holland, France, Germany, Vienna and Estonia. In November 2005, aged 16, Philip became the World Youth Harmonica Champion (Solo Chromatic) and the Open Harmonica Champion at the World Harmonica Festival in Germany, which is held every four years. He received the Tabor Foundation Award at the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2006 competition, and won the Starbucks Young Musician 2006 contest at the Birmingham International Jazz Festival. In 2007, Philip was a featured soloist during the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and also performed at the Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen, where he led the show's finale with a harmonica solo. He was a finalist in the Eurovision Young Musicians 2008 competition, and performed with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in front of an audience of 50,000. In September, he was a guest artist at Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Birthday In The Park' in Hyde Park. His film & TV credits include performing on the soundtracks to Mr Bean's Holiday (2007), French Film (2008), and Little Britain USA (2008). In addition to the saxophone and harmonica, Philip plays piano, double bass and bass guitar.

Nathan Tinker was born to a Japanese mother and English father in 1989. He started learning piano in Japan at the age of five. During his early years he studied under a number of well known Japanese pianists of various styles. He is now studying full time at the Royal College of Music under Gordon Fergus-Thompson. Nathan's second study is composition under Jonathan Cole and he is an avid composer. Since moving to London to attend college full time, Nathan has also started to explore Jazz. Prior to coming to the RCM, Nathan graduated from St Mary's International School in Japan in 2007, where he was awarded the certificate of honour in recognition of his musical accomplishments. With the school he took part in performances in France, Vienna, Czech Republic and the United States. He has also given a number of private concerts in Japan where he usually plays his own compositions alongside more well-known classical and romantic repertoire. In his last year of high school Nathan formed his own orchestra, The Kanto Plains Youth Orchestra, with whom he organized and conducted rehearsals for a summer concert and attracted the attention of Japanese conductor Keitaro Harada who also conducted the performance of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto with Nathan as the soloist. Nathan has formed a small jazz group, The Frontiers, with some of his peers at the RCM and works regularly there as an accompanist. He has performed on Japanese television TV-Tokyo and recorded at the BBC where he accompanied the British representative in the Eurovision Young Musician of the Year.

Born in China, Meng Yang Pan started to play the piano at the age of three. She was accepted to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1996. In 1998 she won First Prize in the 'MIDO' piano competition in China followed by Second Prize in the Ettlingen International Piano Competition for Young People in Germany 1999. In the same year, Meng Yang was awarded a full scholarship by the Wall Trust to study at the Purcell School, where she worked with Tessa Nicholson. During her three years at the Purcell School, she appeared both as a soloist and chamber musician at the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, St. John's Smith Square, Purcell Room and UNESCO in Paris. In 2003, Meng Yang was awarded a full scholarship, supported by the Evelyn Tarrant Award, Elsa and Leonard Cross Scholarship and Hilda Anderson Deane Prize to study at the Royal College of Music under Gordon Fergus-Thompson. She participated in masterclasses with John Lill, Barry Douglas, Dmitri Alexeev, Ferenc Rados, Ronan O'Hora and Jonathan Plowright. In 2006, she won the first prize in the Robert William and Florence Amy Brant International Pianoforte Competition and the Hopkins Gold Medal and Esther Fisher Prize for Best Undergraduate in the Chappell Piano Competition at the RCM. She was also the winner of the Sarah Mundlak memorial Prize for Piano in July 2007 at the RCM together with one of the RCM's most prestigious prizes, the Tagore Gold Medal for making an outstanding contribution to College life. Meng Yang is currently studying as a postgraduate student with the RCM's Head of Keyboard Vanessa Latarche. She is a Clore Scholar supported by Richard Carne and Cosmina and Douglas Liversidge Awards. Meng Yang performs frequently in concert. In October 2007, she performed the John Ireland Piano Concerto with conductor John Wilson in the 125th Anniversary Concert in college and soon after, played for Prince Edward at the Duke of Edinburgh Award concert. In December 2007, Meng Yang performed in one of the most prestigious events at the RCM, the Soirée d'Or, where she raised £4,900 for the RCM Scholarship Fund. In April this year, she performed in the presence of HRH Prince Charles in the award ceremony where she received her Tagore Gold Medal. This was followed by a performance with international concert pianist and conductor Vladmir Ashkenazy at the RCM 125th Birthday in May.

Victoria Lyon is the fifth child of six children, all of whom are musicians. She first started playing violin when she was six years old, and later won a DFEE scholarship to Wells Cathedral School in Somerset, during which time she was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. She started her studies at the Royal College of Music in 2001 gaining a Foundation Scholarship. She has studied with Mateja Marinkovic, Yossi Zivoni and most recently with Maciej Rakowski . On graduating from the RCM, Victoria auditioned for, and gained a place with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, becoming its youngest member and worked with them for a year until her string quartet Escala took part in Britain's Got Talent and were subsequently signed to Sony BMG. They currently perform in venues all over the world and are making an album to be released this June.

Sarah-Jane Brandon was born in Cape Town and completed a Performer's Diploma in Opera at the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town in 2007. While studying there Sarah-Jane sang the roles of Pamina and Countess Almaviva in collaboration with Cape Town Opera and performed frequently with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. Since September 2007 she has been a student at the Royal College of Music, where she is currently studying at the Benjamin Britten International Opera School under Janis Kelly. She is supported by the Josephine Baker and Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trusts, and has been awarded a Stephen Catto Memorial Scholarship and a Lucy Ann Jones award at the RCM for this year's studies. Her studies for 2008-9 are also supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. Her awards since coming to the UK include the Maggie Teyte Prize and the Miriam Licette Scholarship, second place in the Richard Tauber Competition, the Lorna Viol and Audrey Strange Prizes of the Royal Overseas League Competition and the Cuthbert Smith Prize at the Lies Askonas competition, RCM (all 2008). In December 2007, Sarah-Jane toured China with the Amadeus Orchestra as a soprano soloist. In London, she has performed at the Wigmore Hall and the Crush Room of the Royal Opera House. Recently, she sang Maddalena in Handel's La Resurrezione for the RCM at St George's Hanover Square and at the Bridgewater Hall with Stephen Cleobury and the Academy of Ancient Music. She has just sung Sandrina in La finta giardiniera for the Benjamin Britten International Opera School. Her plans include Lisaura in Alessandro for the London Handel Festival.

Vojtech Šafarík was born in the Czech Republic and graduated from the Prague Conservatoire before completing his studies at the Benjamin Britten International Opera School at the Royal College of Music, where he was taught by Timothy Evans-Jones. His roles include Leporello in Don Giovanni for the International Opera Studio of the Komische Oper, Berlin, Doctor in Pelléas et Mélisande for Independent Opera, Badger and Parson in The Cunning Little Vixen for Music at Woodhouse, Father in The Jewel Box for Bampton Classical Opera, Marte in La Contessa dei Numi for the international music festival Ceský Krumlov, and Masetto in Don Giovanni and Vítezslav Novák's Vrchní in Lucerne. His roles for the Benjamin Britten International Opera School include Mozart's Count Almaviva, Forester in The Cunning Little Vixen, Ottone in L'incoronazione di Poppea and Mercurio in Atalanta. His concert performances include The Fairy Queen in Aix-en-Provence under William Christie and in Salzburg under Roger Norrington, Barber's Dover Beach at Cadogan Hall for the RCM's Rising Stars series, several performances with the London Mozart Players including Bach's St John Passion, and Brahms's Requiem under Leif Segerstam. He is a Samling Foundation Scholar, and is also supported by the Josephine Baker Trust. He was Second Prize winner of the Clonter Opera Prize 2008, and holds the Independent Opera Postgraduate Voice Fellowship for 2008-9.

Alisdair Hogarth studied privately with Philip Fowke, and then at the Royal College of Music with John Blakely and Roger Vignoles, where he won all the major prizes for piano accompaniment. In the same year he was selected as a Park Lane Group Young Artist. At the RCM, his studies were supported by the Fishmongers' Company Music Scholarship, the Michael Whittaker and Robert McFadzean Whyte Awards. Alisdair is an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme and is currently studying with Peter Katin. Alisdair made his concerto debut in 1996 as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (broadcast on Classic FM) and has since performed many concertos with a variety of orchestras, including tours of Hungary and the Czech Republic (performing at the Rudolfinum, Prague). He has broadcast on BBC television, BBC Radio 3 and World Service, Classic FM and New Zealand Concert FM. Recent performances have included appearances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Philharmonic Hall, as well as many recitals for British music societies and festivals. Committed to song-accompaniment, Alisdair formed a group of young professional singers, The Prince Consort, which aims to promote piano-accompanied song. Following their highly-acclaimed recital debut at the Purcell Room as part of the 'Fresh' Young Artists Series two years ago, the group perform frequently at music societies and festivals throughout Europe and are planning a tour of New Zealand for the 2009 season. They are now recording their first commercial CD and DVD, to be released in 2009, preceded by a residency at the Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh. The Prince Consort will also be appearing with Graham Johnson, performing the Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer. Future engagements for the group include concerts at Aldeburgh and several appearances at the Wigmore Hall. Alisdair has also worked with singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Rosemary Joshua, Lillian Watson and Donald Maxwell. He is the regular accompanist to many of his generation's finest young singers, including Anna Leese, Jennifer Johnston, Andrew Staples, Jacques Imbrailo, Tim Mead and Sarah-Jane Brandon.In commercial spheres Alisdair is regularly invited to work with Katherine Jenkins, Blake, Lesley Garrett, The Opera Babes, Amici Forever, Nicky Spence and The Choirboys. He is also appearing as a pianist in the latest Scorcese-produced movie, The Young Victoria, with Rupert Friend, Emily Blunt, Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent. He also appeared in The Duchess, with Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, which was recently released to great success.

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