Dr Jonathan James
Jonathan is a music educator, presenter and conductor, having been Head of Performing Arts and Director of Music at the South West Academy of Dramatic Arts (SWADA) in Bristol. His PhD (Bristol) is in Music Education and creativity, focussing on how to get classical and jazz musicians to improvise together on equal terms. He had private tuition at the Royal College of Music in Conducting, and further conductor training in Germany and at various international masterclasses. In 1996 he founded the New Bristol Sinfonia, a 90-piece semi-professional orchestra which he ran for six years. He then freelanced in the UK, Europe and the States and was a Fellow with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2008-2012, he was principal conductor for the Bristol Ensemble, a professional chamber orchestra based in the city, and led their talented youth orchestra, the Bristol Ensemble Training Orchestra (BETO).
At SWADA, he headed up an intensive one-year music performance course in all styles, from classical through to pop, rock and jazz. A qualified teacher, he worked for Keynote Education as a trainer on GCSE and A level Music, and currently writes monthly for Music Teacher magazine. He is an education consultant for concert halls, music hubs and schools.
Jonathan is in demand as a speaker on classical and jazz music, giving popular pre-concert lectures and talks series at venues throughout the country. He runs creative workshops and provides a range of training for those working in the classical music business. Recent clients include IMG Artists, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (as Participation Associate), BBC National Orchestra of Wales (as Discovery Guide), London Philharmonic Orchestra, and major UK concert halls. He is also a creative lead on residential courses run by the National Children's Orchestra and Pro Corda, and presents and conducts family concerts.
Sue is an experienced artistic planner, event manager, administrator and musician, with current freelance roles including Artistic Planning Manager for the Hallé Orchestra. Sue has worked with the Hallé for 30 years, initially as a member of the viola section and, more recently, in a management capacity. Specific roles with the Hallé have included Head of Ensembles - incorporating education projects such as the Youth Orchestra and Youth Choir - and Co-ordinator of the String Leadership Scheme, a collaboration between the Hallé and the Royal Northern College of Music. Sue is also a member of the management team for Broadway Arts Festival in the Cotswolds and has worked as Concerts Administrator for Manchester Chamber Concerts Society. Sue trained at the University of Birmingham and the Royal Northern College of Music.
John is a professional tenor and voice teacher, and is recognised as a singer of exceptional musicianship, warmth, style and character. Having performed throughout Europe and North America, he has also been praised for his dramatic intensity, vocal beauty, clarity and agility.
John’s singing career has taken him as far as New Zealand, Japan, Mexico and Canada on both the operatic stage and concert platform. He has sung leading roles in works ranging from Monteverdi to Jonathan Dove and major oratorio and recital works from Bach to Britten. Throughout his career he has also been fortunate to work with such distinguished artists as Graham Johnson, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sian Edwards and Ronald Corp.
Through the generous support of the Koerner Foundation Artist Award, and the COB Foundation of Canada, he completed a Master Degree on the postgraduate Opera course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under the tutelage of Rudolf Piernay. While at the Guildhall, Mr. Bacon was a prize winner in the English Song Competition, represented the college in an LSO Discovery Lunchtime Concert, and worked with the likes of Philip Langridge, Martin Katz, and Malcolm Martineau.
Prior to this, John sang with the Juno award-nominated vocal ensemble musica intima, was a winner of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio Two Début Series for Young Performers, and completed a Bachelor of Music at the University British Columbia.
Having grown up in Vancouver, Canada then spent seven years based in London, John moved to Bristol to take singing teaching positions at both Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School and Taunton School. John is currently a resident artist of Yehudi Menuhin’s Live Music Now performing regularly with pianist Helen Mills.
Saxophone / Composition
Richard is a composer, conductor and saxophonist.
He has been commissioned by many singers, ensembles, opera companies and festivals including Welsh National Opera, St Endellion Festival, Opera North, CBSO, Bath Festival, National Dance Company Wales, Operasonic and Live Music Now. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and performed nationally and internationally by musicians including Mark Padmore, Morgan Szymanski, Juice Vocal Ensemble, BBC Singers, WNO Orchestra, Sarah Newbold, Amanda Cook, Delta Saxophone Quartet, Piotr Lempa and Siân Cameron. Collaborations with writers and artists include poet Ian McMillan, librettist Alan Harris and visual artists Kathy Hinde and Heidi Hinder.
He co-founded and ran the acclaimed Elektrostatic project at the Colston Hall and Arnolfini. He designs and delivers innovative education projects with many of the UK's leading ensembles, venues and opera companies.
Paul enjoys a freelance career as a violinist and teaches violin and viola at QEH and Redmaids Schools. Paul plays regularly with many orchestras including Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Trafalgar Sinfonia, Bristol Ensemble, Orchestra Nova, Belmont Ensemble, NSO, extra list with the RPO, and has performed in the West End; most recently in Sweeney Todd.
Paul performed the premiere of Stuart Hancock’s Violin Concerto with Southbank Sinfonia and with St Paul's Sinfonia, other solo/chamber music experience includes performances of Stravinky’s Soldier’s Tale as principal violin with the London Contemporary Music Group, and Bach’s Double Concerto with London Concertante.
Recent recordings include 'Atlantis' for the BBC, Four Seasons recording with Kerenza Peacock and Trafalgar Sinfonia, Songs of Praise with the Welsh Session Orchestra, Katie Melua, Scott Matthews (Ivor Novello award winner), and has also recorded with Orchestra Nova for composers such as Paul Patterson, Cecillia McDowell and David Matthews. Paul also plays as part of the Estilo String Quartet.
Nicholas is a tenor saxophonist, originally from Perthshire in Scotland. At 17 he moved to London where he studied jazz at The Royal Academy of Music. Under the tuition of Martin Speake, Julian Arguelles and Mark Lockheart, he developed a love of the way melody and harmony tie together in jazz and more broadly, the way these elements can be found and used in harmonic music outside jazz.
He attained his LRAM teaching certificate at the Royal Academy and soon found great rewards in passing on the improvisational concepts he had learned, particularly to those who could play already but who hadn’t previously explored this approach to music. He teaches for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland as a saxophone tutor, combo leader and big band leader. Living in London he wrote and performed with his own group and played original material in various bands run by his contemporaries. Guitar has always been his primary harmony instrument and compositional tool. He toured in France, Scandinavia, the USA and Japan, played at Glastonbury and recorded in NYC playing guitar and saxophone with the band Grand National for two years from 2004. He continues to broaden his involvement in the Bristol music scene.
Nick is an original, exciting and heart-felt improviser. His rich, warm sound and sense of improvisational daring inform each and every musical situation and he plays with a total commitment to the music in the moment, whatever the stylistic context. His own quartet plays original compositions combining the rhythmic and harmonic complexities of contemporary jazz with the intensity and interaction of free improvisation. They have made a big impression at The Vortex, Manchester Jazz Festival and Ealing Jazz Festival during the summer of 2011 and toured nationally in 2012 to coincide with the release of their first album. He also plays in an open trio setting featuring world-class rhythm section of Olie Brice and Mark Sanders.
Nick has also played at the 606 Club, Cheltenham, Glastonbury and Oxford festivals, London Jazz Cafe and Ronnie Scotts with musicians such as Gail Brand, Chris Batchelor, Alexander Hawkins and Nostalgia 77. Nick is also highly committed to music, particularly jazz, education. He believes that learning to improvise should be a rigorous, joyful and heartfelt process. He has a 1st Class BMus from King’s College London and a Masters in Jazz Performance from Trinity College, London. He has studied with Chris Batchelor, Dave Wickins and Ralph Alessi and teaches jazz trumpet at Wells Cathedral School.
Clarissa trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying the flute with Sarah Newbold and Ian Clarke. After college, she moved to remote east Iceland to teach at a music school and became fascinated by the country. From one extreme to the other - she then accepted a post in Abu Dhabi. Clarissa returned to the UK and is now an active participant in the Bristol music scene, performing and recording with classical, rock, folk, jazz and circus artists, most recently recording with This Is The Kit and touring with Whispering Woods. Clarissa also performs around the country with renowned classical guitarist Adam Khan. She teaches primary and secondary pupils for Bristol Plays Music and runs a private teaching practice with students aged 6 to 85. In addition to her teaching and performing work, Clarissa is the flute correspondent for Music Teacher magazine
Lisa Portus studied the bassoon at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Graham Sheen, Meyrick Alexander, John Orford, Robin O’Neill and Ian Cuthill. She has recently returned to the south west after 12 years in Scotland where she taught bassoon at the High School of Glasgow. Previously she taught at the King’s School (Canterbury), Clifton College and Clifton High School. A busy freelance player, Lisa has performed with many local and regional professional ensembles and orchestras including Emerald Ensemble (now the Brunel Ensemble), Regency Sinfonia, Bath Philharmonia, West of England Philharmonic, Opera Project and Opera della Luna. She has also performed a number of concertos with the English National Baroque Ensemble at St George’s, Brandon Hill in Bristol and the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. In addition, Lisa is a well-known arranger of music for wind quintets and bassoon quartets and set up her own publishing venture, Portus Press, in 2008. With an extensive and varied catalogue her work is regularly recorded and broadcast.
Tom studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, where he trained with Tim Thorpe and Ian Fisher. In 2013 he graduated with First Class Honours, also winning the Simon Clarkson Memorial Award for best overall musician, and the McGregory Chamber Music Prize and June Emerson Prize with his wind quintet, New British Winds. Tom was subsequently given a full scholarship to continue his performance and research studies at the RWCMD and graduated with a Masters in 2015, also winning the June Emerson Prize with his brass quintet, Arcomis Brass. His research into ‘the importance of health and fitness within the Conservatoire’ was supported by Help Musicians UK and the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine.
As a performer, Tom plays with orchestras such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, and Royal Ballet Sinfonia. With the BBC NOW, he has made regular appearances at the Proms and has recorded music for TV programmes such as Doctor Who and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tom has also worked on touring shows including Billy Elliot the Musical and Sunset Boulevard. As a chamber musician, he has featured on Classic FM and BBC Songs of Praise.
Tom is the Horn tutor at many different institutions, including the RWCMD Junior Conservatoire and Bristol Cathedral Choir School. He has also been the Performance Health lecturer at the RWCMD Junior Conservatoire since 2013. Tom is also manager of the Bristol Plays Music Masterclass Series, where each year some of the UK’s finest musicians visit Bristol to deliver masterclasses to inspire the next generation of artists.
Imogen studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Neil Black and Gordon Hunt, where she won many of the major prizes, including the Paddy Purcell Prize for all wind instruments. She was awarded a Countess of Munster Scholarship and then a Winston Churchill Fellowship to continue her studies with the Berlin Philharmonic’s solo oboist, Lothar Koch over 2 years.
Imogen Triner is one of Britain’s foremost oboe soloists and performances have included major concertos with the Tivoli Festival Symphony Orchestra in Denmark, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic and Kuopio Symphony Orchestras – both in Finland, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in Norway, Kansas Chamber Orchestra, National Italian Symphony Orchestra, Belgian National Radio and Television Orchestra, Norkoping Chamber Orchestra in Sweden and many orchestras in the UK, with whom she has played numerous concertos and recorded 3 CDs. Many of these performances have been recorded for the radio. Imogen has given master-classes in Scandinavia and America.
As a chamber musician Imogen has performed highly acclaimed recitals in major London venues and in festivals throughout the UK. She has toured all over Scandinavia, America and Japan both as a recitalist and with her Oboe Quartet - oboeworks - with whom she has recorded 2 CDs which include works written especially for her. Imogen now lives in Bristol and continues her playing, coaching, teaching (Bristol University) and recording sessions.
Sam grew up in Cornwall in the south west of England and began to play the flute at the age of 11.
He started learning the at 15 and a year later he was principal oboe of the Cornwall Youth Orchestra. After taking a year of lessons at the Royal Northern College of Music with Melinda Maxwell (soloist and composer), Sam gained a scholarship to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he studied oboe and cor anglais with Catriona MacKinnon (principal oboe, Welsh National Opera), Sarah-Jayne Porsmoguer (principal cor anglais, BBC National Orchestra of Wales), and John Anderson (principal oboe, Royal Philharmonic)
Sam has taken part in master classes with Francois Leleux, John Anderson, Hansjoerg Schellenberger and Nigel Treherne and was also a prize winner of Sinfonia Cymru’s Professional Pathways Awards scheme. Other prizes and awards include The John MacIntyre Memorial Prize 2011 and 2013, EMI Award, McGrenery Chamber Music Prize, Emerson Launchpad Prize, Sound Inventors Competition in Composition.
Since graduating in 2013 with a First Class Bmus honours and Masters degree, Sam has won jobs as principal oboe of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and also guest principal of the Oltenia Philharmonic Orchestra. Sam has also been tutor of reed making at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Now as a Freelance player, Sam performs, records and broadcasts throughout Wales and England with many orchestras including Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Novello Orchestra, and British Sinfonietta, as well as numerous chamber ensembles.
Katy studied the violin and voice at the Royal Academy of Music. She has played with many of the leading orchestras in the UK, including the BBC Philharmonic, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. For two years she was a full-time member of the orchestra of Welsh National Opera. On returning to a freelance career, she plays with many of the leading ensembles in the South West and is a regular leader for the Brandon Hill Chamber Orchestra.
As a member of the Minerva Quartet, Katy has performed in music festivals across the country. The quartet has recorded for BBC Radio and Channel 4 TV, and has worked with international pop artists, and appears on the album 'Lightbulb Sun', by the 'The Porcupine Tree'. Katy has also worked at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre, providing music for various plays, often on stage and in costume.
She is also a member of the Ystavaa Piano Trio, together with Helen Mills and Christine Johnstone. The trio performs regularly in and around the South West, and has given concerts in Bristol Cathedral, The Holburn Museum in Bath, Clevedon Music Club and Henleaze United Reformed Church. All members of the trio teach, and are keen to take their expertise into schools; to date they have presented workshops at Red Maids Junior School and Badminton School, as well as playing for the 'Lilliput' and 'Music for Miniatures' concerts for very young children in Bristol, Cheltenham and Bath.
Katy's teaching career spans over twenty years, and she has taught at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music and Wells Cathedral School, as well as Queen Elizabeths' Hospital, Colstons' Girls School, the University of the West of England and Taunton School. Now teaching at both Red Maids High School and Badminton School, Katy enjoys the variety of teaching pupils from beginner to Diploma level. She is delighted to have recently joined the team at the Bristol Conservatoire. Katy is currently studying for a Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and plans to focus on supporting young people through counselling, once she is qualifed.
The critically acclaimed Steve Banks Quintet features celebrated UK Jazz artists and Steve’s original compositions. Steve has recorded and performed at major venues and festivals across the UK and Europe with artists including Sara Colman, Greg Cordez, The Colman Brothers and We Are Leif. In 2018, Steve played electric, acoustic, baritone and nylon string guitars on Sara Colman's album ‘What We’re Made Of’ which was awarded a maximum 4 stars and ‘top 10 albums of 2018’ by Jazzwise. Steve is an enthusiastic and experienced educator, having taught improvisation, applied theory and effective practise to individuals and groups at undergraduate level since 2007.