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Marie Bitlloch

Marie Bitlloch

French/Catalan cellist Marie Bitlloch studied in Perpignan Concervatoire, Paris Conservatoire, and the RNCM in Manchester respectively with Michel Lefort, Philippe Muller and Ralph Kirshbaum. At the RNCM, she met her fellow Elias string quartet members and decided to stay in England and dedicate herself to chamber music.

In 1996, Marie was joint second at the Adam competition in New Zealand and won the jury’s prize at the Bach competition in Leipzig one year later. She has won the Muriel Taylor Scholarship and was awarded an incentive grand at the Pierre Fournier award, consequently appearing at the Manchester Cello festival. For three years she was a laureate of the Natexis foundation, Banque populaire who helped her with her musical projects.

Marie has given recitals throughout France, Spain and England and has appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as the Goncal Comellas orchestra, the Orchestra de cambra d’Andorra, the Orchestre Languedoc-Roussillon, the RNCM Symphony Orchestra She has performed alongside artists such as Menahem Pressler, Claude Frank, Valdimir Mendelssohn, Paul Biss, Joseph Silverstein.


Participation in music festivals include the Pau Casals festival (Prades), the Musique dans les Vignes festival (France), the Musica Vitae festival (Sweden), Ravinia’s Steans Institute for young artists (Chicago), the Three Choirs Festival (Gloucestershire), Santa Fe’s summer festival (New Mexico) and Musique de chambre en Normandie (France)

She has been a member of the Elias Quartet since 1998. Marie plays on an eighteen-century anonymous Italian cello on loan to her by the Fond Instrumental Français.

Andrew Brownell

Andrew Brownell

Since winning 2nd Prize at the 2006 Leeds Competition, the American pianist Andrew Brownell has pursued an active and varied international performing career, earning critical praise for his creative programming and interpretive insight.


Musical Opinion described him as “potentially one of the most significant pianists of his generation”, and The Oregonian wrote that Brownell “impresses as much with his mind as with his hands… the anti-Lang Lang.”

Andrew won 2nd Prize ex aequo at the 2002 International J. S. Bach Competition in Leipzig, making him the first American pianist to win a prize in the competition. He also won 1st Prize at the 2005 J.N. Hummel Competition in Bratislava and has achieved widespread recognition as “one of the foremost Hummel interpreters of our time” (Hudobný Život). His edition of the Piano Concerto in a minor, Op. 85 was published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 2016.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Andrew Brownell began studying the piano at the age of four.  His teachers have included Nancy Weems and Horacio Gutiérrez at the University of Houston; John Perry at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles); and Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music in London.


An enthusiastic collaborative artist, Andrew Brownell has appeared in concert with principals of orchestras such as the Philharmonia, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and Vienna Philharmonic. He has been soloist with orchestras such as the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Slovak Philharmonic, and the Hermitage State Orchestra (Russia);  Since 2017, he has been teaching at The University of Texas at Austin.

Samuel  Coles

Sam Coles

Samuel Coles is Principal Flute with the Philharmonia Orchestra. He was studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Paris Conservatoire where he won the Premier Prix. His many other awards include first prize in both the Scheveningen International Flute Competition in Holland and the National Flute Association Young Artists Competition in San Diego and 2nd Prize in the Jean Pierre Rampal Competition 1987.

He has played guest principal with the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Opéra de Paris, Orchestra de Radio France, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Sam has performed as a soloist with the Orchestre de Paris, the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, the Residentie Orchestra of the Hague and the English Chamber Orchestra, with whom he recorded all the Mozart concertos under the direction of Sir Yehudi Menuhin. He teacher at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Simone van der Giessen

Simone van der Giessen

Simone van der Giessen was born in Amsterdam and moved to the UK in 2002 to continue her violin studies with Jan Repko at the Royal Northern College of Music. It was in Manchester, that as a founding member of the Navarra String Quartet, chamber music became the centre of her musical life.


In 2004 she began studying viola with Predrag Katanic and after graduating in June 2006 with First Class Honours she won the RNCM’s CecilAronowitz Prize for viola and performed Walton’s concerto for viola with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra.

With the Navarra quartet, Simone has performed internationally for 16 years. There have been many highlights in her years with the Navarra quartet, a few of them performing in the Sydney Operahouse, playing at the Esterhazy castle, and studying with Ferenc Rados.

They have been awarded the MIDEM Classique Young Artist Award, a Borletti- Buitoni Trust Fellowship, a Musica Viva tour and prizes at the Melbourne, Florence and at the Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Simone is now a member of the Elias quartet. This quartet is steadily building a recording catalogue that has been met with widespread critical acclaim. They have recorded the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Jonathan Biss, a Britten Quartets disc for Sonimage, a Mendelssohn disc for ASV Gold and most recently Schumann string quartets for Outhere. Their two mixed programme recordings for Wigmore Live were praised unanimously, the first winning a BBC Music Magazine Newcomers award. The final volume of their complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle had just been released. In 2020 they will return to the US with a Beethoven cycle apart from fulfilling a busy concert schedule across Europe.

Outside of the quartet, Simone is in much demand as a chamber musician and is frequently invited to perform with various musicians and ensembles such as the Nash ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, Ensemble 360, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Ben Hancox

Ben Hancox

Ben Hancox is the leader and founder member of the Sacconi Quartet and since 2022, joined the London Bridge Trio.


Having started playing violin 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. 


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 is married, and has two young children. He has juggled flaming torches (not near his family).

Magnus Johnston

Magnus Johnston

A past member of both the Navarra String Quartet and the Aronowitz Ensemble, he has been a recipient of two Borletti-Buitoni Trust Awards and a place on BBC Radio 3ʼs New Generation Artists Scheme.


Aside from his dedication to chamber music, he has been in demand as Guest Leader and Principal of orchestras such as the Philharmonia, English National Opera, Britten Sinfonia, Hallé, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Scottish and Australian Chamber Orchestras. As a chorister of the choir of Kingʼs College Cambridge, he toured extensively at a young age, going on to study at Chethamʼs School of Music, Manchester, and later the RNCM. 

His passion for chamber music led to the birth of the Aronowitz Ensemble, a unique chamber group of string sextet and piano. The ensemble made their debut performance to a sold-out St Johnʼs Smith Square, and enjoyed a busy touring schedule along with frequent live broadcasts and studio recordings.


With the Navarra Quartet, he made appearances at major venues and festivals throughout the world, including the Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Lincoln Center New York, Berlin Konzerthaus, Sydney Opera House and the BBC Proms. In September 2023 Magnus was appointed Concertmaster of the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden.

Tim Lowe

Tim Lowe

Following a recent Wigmore Hall recital Tim’s playing was described as “... compelling in every respect: probing, virtuosic and yielding by turns – a true example of outstanding musicianship.” (Musical Opinion)

​He spends much of his time playing solo and Chamber recitals throughout  the UK and Europe and has played recitals many times in major London venues including Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, QEH, Cadogan Hall and Purcell Room. He has played most of the major cello concertos in recent seasons.

Tim is the cellist of the Rossetti Ensemble and he enjoys many other collaborations. He has recorded chamber music CDs for various labels, including recently for Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, and Champs Hill.

As an orchestral player Tim is Guest Principal 'Cello with many major UK leading orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Sinfonia of London. Tim has also played on many TV and film scores including James Bond, Mission Impossible Downton Abbey and many more.

​Tim is Cello Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he has a large class and also coaches chamber music. He teaches and coaches regularly on courses and festivals throughout the UK and Europe. He is the Artistic Director of York Chamber Music Festival. He plays a 'cello made by Carolus Tononi in Bologna in 1716

Photo credit Kaupo Kikkas

Gary Pomeroy

Gary Pomeroy

Born and raised in Durban, South Africa, Gary took inspiration from his parents who busked country music at flea markets at the weekend, and subsequently started violin lessons aged five. He took to the viola as a teenager and was lucky enough to become an ABRSM International Scholar at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK. There he enjoyed five years of guidance in solo playing and chamber music.

He is the violist of the Heath Quartet who have been awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist award, made live recordings of the complete Tippett and Bartok Quartets to critical acclaim and continue to build on their 20-year relationship. Gary enjoys a range of education work including regular teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

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A Photograph of Steven Isserlis playing the cello

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