It is nearly twelve months since the death of our much loved Friends’ Chairman and second bassoon. As many of you know, Richard Slaney was also much involved with the South Powys Youth Orchestra and The Brecon Baroque Festival. It was Richard who had some time ago suggested that the three organisations might play a concert together, so it is very fitting that we are now able to bring this to fruition on 7 March.
Rachel Podger was born to a British father and a German mother. She was educated at a German Rudolf Steiner school then returned to study first with Perry Hart, then at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno, Pauline Scott, and Micaela Comberti. During her studies, she co-founded Baroque chamber groups The Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium, and worked with period instrument ensembles such as the New London Consort and London Baroque.
Rachel often conducts Baroque orchestras from the violin. She was the leader of the Gabrieli Consort and Players and later of The English Concert from 1997 to 2002, touring extensively, often as soloist in Vivaldi’s Le quattro stagioni and Grosso mogul concertos. In 2004 she took up guest directorship of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, opening with a tour in the United States with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. She also currently works as a guest director with Arte dei Suonatori (Poland), Musica Angelica and Santa Fe Pro Musica (both in the United States) and as soloist with The Academy of Ancient Music.
Rachel is also a professor of Baroque violin at both the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and also teaches regularly at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen. On September 2008, she took up the newly founded Micaela Comberti Chair for Baroque violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then became professor of Baroque violin at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.
When not touring with various orchestras and other classical players, Rachel works in Brecon, Mid-Wales, helping young musicians through the Mozart Music Fund, which she founded in 2006, as well as holding workshops and giving recitals. In 2006 she also co-founded the annual Brecon Baroque Festival which is held over the penultimate weekend of October every year.
More information can be found on Rachel’s website
Lesley was born in Cardiff, but as her family moved to Newport when she was 11 she spent all her young “musical” life there. She was a member of Newport Youth Orchestra under Ronald Cleak for several years, and also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales from 1972 until 1976.
In 1973 Lesley left South Wales to go and study at the Royal Academy of Music in London under Derek Collier. After completing her studies she spent a short time as a member of the Las Palmas Symphony Orchestra in the Canary Islands, before returning to the UK and joining the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1978, as the very last 2nd violin!
Over the coming years she worked her way up through the ranks until, in 1994, she was appointed no. 4 1st violin, a position she held for 23 years until her retirement from RLPO in February 2017.
Since retiring Lesley has moved back to South Wales with her husband, and is thoroughly enjoying being back home again after all these years!
Tim was educated at St Joseph’s Port Talbot, Millfield and Oxford. He studied baroque violin with Ingrid Seifert and trained with the European Union Baroque Orchestra. He subsequently toured and recorded with many of the UK’s leading period-instrument orchestras, including the Academy of Ancient Music, The Gabrieli Consort and Players, The English Concert, and Collegium Musicum 90.
He is Musical Director of South Powys Youth Music, teaches violin, viola and music theory in Brecon, coaches the RWCMD Baroque String Ensemble, organised the annual Brecon Baroque Festival for several years, administrates the Mozart Music Fund (a charity set up in 2006 to support young instrumentalists in South Powys) and plays violin and viola with various ensembles, such as The Welsh Sinfonia and Ystradivarius. Tim believes passionately that all children and young people should have the opportunity to become involved in socially and educationally beneficial music-making.
South Powys Youth Orchestra
South Powys Youth Orchestra (SPYO) was re-founded by Alan Davies in 2000 following the closure, in 1993, of the county music service. It is the senior ensemble of the South Powys Youth Music organisation and has become a vibrant and thriving fifty-piece ensemble. It is composed mainly of pupils from Brecon, Crickhowell, Gwernyfed, Ystalyfera and Builth Wells High Schools and Christ College Brecon. SPYO has been fortunate enough to be coached by principal players from the BBC NOW and Sinfonia Cymru; it also has strong links to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
South Powys Youth Music
South Powys Youth Music (SPYM), a registered charity, sets out to identify, inspire and educate young musicians from all over South Powys. SPYM’s weekly programme is run by a team of highly qualified professional musicians and teachers who coach the players and singers from pre-school years through to aged 18. SPYM currently runs seven groups: ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’, String Machine, Stringtastic, Wind Band, Choir, Percussion Group, South Powys Junior Orchestra and the organisation’s flagship ensemble South Powys Youth Orchestra, which boasts some of the county’s finest young musicians. While SPYM provides musical experiences which are valuable in their own right, a number of our members have been selected to join the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, and have gone on to study at specialist music schools and conservatoires.