The Auricle Ensemble burst into in life in 2007 with intriguing programmes, virtuoso playing and an inclusive performance style. Formed by co-founders Kenny Letham and Chris Swaffer, the ensemble has since gained an enviable reputation and invitations to perform widely. It gained much acclaim for its Mini-Mahler project performing the reduced versions of Mahler's works as well as for playing live to film in the European premiere of Copland's 'The City' at the Glasgow Film Festival. The ensemble thrives on performing a variety of genres, from Miles Davis to Maxwell Davies, and as such, has some of Scotland's most versatile players as its members. Some of whom you can meet below...
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Chris, our Artistic Director, has guest conducted many ensembles, including the St. Petersburg Academic and Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestras, Ensemble 11, the Orchestra of Opera North, Slaithwaite Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Ensemble of London. He has actively participated in many masterclasses across the world and therefore been shouted at on most continents.
Chris' passion for new music has seen him conduct countless premieres, including Steve Forman’s ‘Sprawl’ at City Halls and seven world premieres at the Royal Northern College of Music with contemporary music group Ensemble 11. He recently premiered the opera 'Navigate the Blood' by Gareth Williams and the band 'Admiral Fallow' on a tour of Scottish distilleries for NOISE Opera. He conducted the first public performance of Howard Blake's Diversions for marimba in the presence of the composer with soloist Heather Corbett. Chris also lead a Scottish Opera Connect workshop on a new opera at Aberdeen University. With the Auricle Ensemble Chris directed several critically acclaimed projects, including Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, a two year Mini-Mahler project and two European premieres of works by Aaron Copland. One of these works by Copland, 'The City', was performed live to film at the Glasgow Film Festival. He also conducted Auricle alongside the band Admiral Fallow, arranging two of their songs in a special gig for the Celtic Connections festival.
Chris was educated at Chetham's School of Music and holds a Masters degree in composition from the University of Manchester. He has worked with over 50 youth, amateur and university orchestras holding many Principal Conductor posts and is the founder of the Universities of Scotland Symphony Orchestra. Chris is also well known as a presenter and trainer for schools and education conferences, and has provided training in conducting and all things music technology through his role as Product Manager for Notion software (a well-known iPad and desktop notation app). www.chrisswaffer.co.uk
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Emma began her studies in the Cork School of Music, where she was the recipient of many scholarships and prizes. She moved to Glasgow in 1995 to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with David Nicholson. During her time at the RSAMD, Emma attained several prizes including the John McGregor Flute Prize, the Governors’ Recital Prize, the Mary D. Adams Chamber Music Prize and the Sibelius Essay Prize. In 1999 she performed as a soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra as a finalist in the BBC2 Young Musician Competition. She was also a woodwind-class finalist in the RTE Millennium Musician of the Future Competition in Dublin. Emma is a founder member of both the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra and the Gliondar Ensemble with whom she performs regularly throughout Scotland and Ireland and has had recitals broadcast on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3 and RTE Lyric FM and has performed in Iceland, France, Spain, Holland and Germany as well as all around Ireland and Britain. Emma teaches flute at St Mary’s Music School and St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh. She plays with the Irish Chamber Orchestra and also appears regularly with orchestras in the UK.
Rona Pollard was born in Edinburgh and studied oboe at the RSAMD with Philip Hill and at Guildhall School of Music with David Theodore. She has freelanced with the major orchestras in Scotland, with the Scottish Ensemble and the Ulster Orchestra and has recorded with the Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. Rona teaches oboe at Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow, St George’s Girls School in Edinburgh and at Edinburgh Napier University and is a regular coach for the National Children’s Orchestra of Scotland.
Nicola Long studied clarinet with John Cushing, and bass clarinet with Michael Huntriss and Heather Nicoll at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. Whilst there she represented the Academy on commercial recordings, was a winner of the Governors’ Competition Prize for Chamber Music and the Mary D. Adams Prize for Excellence in Chamber Music, and successfully auditioned for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra apprenticeship scheme. Nicola is a founder member of the Scottish Clarinet Quartet as well as the Auricle Ensemble. As well as relishing her role in these forward thinking and visionary groups, she has performed with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and London Sinfonietta. She has also performed in the on-stage band for many high profile artists including The Chieftains, Mica Paris, the touring Strictly Come Dancing show and for West-End/Broadway stars such as John Owen-Jones and Lorna Luft. When not performing, Nicola is an Examiner for Trinity College London and is Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion at the Edinburgh Academy.
After completing a degree in Musical Performance at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where she was the recipient of a Sir John Barbirolli Memorial Foundation award, Katherine moved to London to continue her studies at the Royal College of Music focusing on period performance as well as modern day. Whilst in London Katherine performed as part of the Contemporary Consort, took part in the Aldeburgh Festival, was a member of the Minehead and Exmoor Festival Orchestra as well as performing in various orchestral and chamber music concerts throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. After returning to Glasgow she continues to perform as a freelance musician playing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Festival Orchestra, Scottish Concert Orchestra and Edinburgh Grand Opera Orchestra. She has recently performed as a soloist in Mozarts Sinfonia Concertante as part of the Festival Lyrique international de Belle-Ile en Mer, as well as playing as part of the festival orchestra. She is a founder member of the Doune Bassoon Quartet and is also a keen educator and teaches throughout Scotland including double reed tutor for West Of Scotland Schools Concert Band.
Richard Ingham is a saxophonist, composer and educator. He has given recitals in Europe, USA, Canada, China, India, and Thailand. He was the Director of the XVI World Saxophone Congress, held in Scotland in 2012, and is a member of the Comité International du Saxophone. He is President of the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain, and editor of the Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone (Cambridge University Press, 1999). He is a Yamaha artist and clinician. Richard has given masterclasses in conservatoires throughout the UK and worldwide. He is Honorary Professor of Jazz Education at the University of St Andrews, where his jazz courses have been running for twenty years, and has directed many residential saxophone courses. As a composer he has written widely for orchestra, chamber ensembles, jazz ensembles and soloists, most recently Music for the Book of Deer for chamber ensemble, which was featured in the 2014 Made in Scotland Showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Richard was given an award by Creative Scotland to commission and record eight new works for saxophone celebrating the bicentenary of Adolphe Sax – the album featuring this new music (classical, jazz, traditional) was released in 2014. He gave the first UK performance of the saxophone version of Boulez’ Dialogue de l’Ombre Double in 2016.
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Al gained a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where he received his MMus (performance). He has free-lanced with all of Scotland’s orchestras, The Dublin Baroque Players and various ensembles in Northern Ireland. He spent a season with the Cyprus Chamber Orchestra and has toured Spain and Portugal with The Wallace Collection. Equally at home within the Commercial Music idiom, Al is in constant demand and has developed his playing to encompass a wide range of styles, including blues, jazz, funk and soul. Performing in an eclectic mix of engagements and projects, he is often found in the pit orchestras of leading theatre productions, performing brass ensemble recitals or letting rip in Scotland’s foremost funk band, Funk Nation.
Kenny began playing the trombone in his local brass band in Lochgelly, Fife in 1992 at the age of 12. By the time he was 16 he was a principal in the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland and a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. At the age of 17 Kenny was accepted at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where he went on to study for five years with Kevin Thompson, Lance Green and John Kenny. During his time at the Academy Kenny also became proficient on the bass and alto trombones, euphonium, bass trumpet, sackbut and piano. After graduating Kenny moved to Texas to take up a position as trombonist and musical director on board the cruise ship 'Rhapsody of the Seas'. After a year in America Kenny was invited to work for P&O cruises based in London and it was during these two years he developed his jazz and commercial playing skills. In 2005 Kenny moved back to Glasgow to become an active freelancer with all the major Scottish orchestras and many local bands and ensembles. He is also a sought after studio musician featuring on recordings by artists such as Emma Pollock, Lord CutGlass and Mogwai, often arranging much of the instrumental accompaniments featured in these recordings. In 2006 Kenny co-founded the Auricle Ensemble with Chris Swaffer.
Christine smith was born in fife and began playing the horn at the age of thirteen. After studying at the RSAMD junior academy she continued her studies at the RSAMD with David McClenaghan, Huge Potts and David Flack, gaining a BMus, PGDip and a MMus with distinction. Christine has amassed a considerable wealth of orchestral experience and plays regularly with orchestras all over the UK. She has also trialed with the Philharmonia, BBC Concert, BBC Scottish, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Royal Scottish National, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Scottish Opera, Northern Ballet, RTE and Ulster Orchestras. She has also worked with a number of West End touring productions including Mary Poppins, White Christmas, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Carousel. In addition to her orchestral playing she is a keen chamber musician and solo musician giving various solo performances, notably Richard strauss’ First horn concerto with the RSAMD YouthWorks Music Orchestra, Strauss’ Second horn concerto with the RSAMD Symphony Orchestra and Glasgow Chamber Orchestra. Mozarts fourth horn concerto with the RSAMD Athenaeum Orchestra and Malcolm Arnold’s second horn concerto with the Arnold Ensemble. She has also performed with Fine Arts Brass, Hebrides, Paragon and Scottish Ensembles and a variety of other chamber ensembles, notably with John Wallace and other RSAMD staff members. She is a recipient of the Mary D Adams Prize for chamber music, RSAMD Governors’ Recital Prize for Brass, RSAMD concerto competition and the Peter Morrison Prize.
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Originally from Aberdeen, Laura McIntosh (nee Baxter) attended the Royal Academy of Music in London, specialising in accompaniment, duo, and chamber music repertoire. After receiving a scholarship to the internationally renowned institution, she studied with Iain Ledingham for two years, and received repetiteur training from Anthony Legge whilst working in the opera school on Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”. Having returned to Glasgow, where she completed her undergraduate studies with Jean Hutchison at the former Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Laura has worked for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, National Youth Choir of Scotland, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and The Opera Bohemia. She has taught at Douglas Academy, the High School of Glasgow and the Junior Conservatoire at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Laura's main focuses now are her work with Scottish Opera’s young company 'Connect' where she is Head of Singing, and lecturing on the BA Musical Theatre at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she coaches ensemble singing, instrumental playing and actor-musician work.
Edinburgh born Phil Hague has played percussion since high school, having previously failed at attempts to play the violin, piano and guitar. After studying at the RSAMD (RCS) he now regularly freelances with Scotland's leading orchestras, is a member of the band Admiral Fallow and leads a wide range of educational activities.
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Amy studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before continuing with her post graduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. During her time at the RSAMD, Amy was the recipient of the Robert Highgate Scholarship, the Eric Dodds Memorial Scholarship and was a winner of the Keldwyth Award for Cumbrian musicians. She was a regular participant of the Mendelssohn on Mull chamber music festival, working with Levon Chilingirian and Marcia Crayford. Whilst at the RAM, Amy continued to pursue her passion for chamber music, playing with various ensembles including the Royal Academy Soloists, under the direction of Clio Gould. She also participated in the Zermatt Chamber Music Festival for three years, playing alongside members of the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic. Amy was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra for four years, with whom she toured extensively throughout Europe, as well as Russia and Brazil. Amy has been a member of the first violin section of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra since 2008, and is a founding member of the Broderick Horn Trio and the European Chamber Players.
Kirsty grew up in Edinburgh surrounded by a musical family. In 2000 she moved to London to study modern violin with Dona Lee Croft and baroque violin with Adrian Butterfield at The Royal College of Music. During a post graduate year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland she was awarded a John McInulty Prize for orchestral playing, took part in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s apprenticeship scheme, lead quartet performances at The St Magnus Festival and went on to participate in the Mendelssohn on Mull Festivals. Kirsty has toured internationally with The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, performed concertos with the New Edinburgh Orchestra, regularly records for both Grid Iron and Lyceum theatre companies and is now a member of The Orchestra of Scottish Opera. In November 2015 Kirsty formed the Drake Ensemble, curating and performing in a successful monthly chamber music series in the intimate setting of The Drake Bar and Restaurant in Glasgow.
In 2007 Emily began an active freelance career in Scotland playing with Auricle Ensemble, Scottish Opera, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Alba Quartet. Since 2014 she has been working for Sistema Scotland in their Big Noise hub in Govanhill. Emily enjoys both playing and teaching and supports these with her interest in Mindfulness, Clean Language and Metaphor, and also as a qualified Feldenkrais Practitioner. She has given workshops to primary children, high school children, PHD students, acting students, dance students, music students in various schools, universities and Conservatoires.
After years of denial, Neil turned his back on a career in science to pursue his true calling as a double bass player. He studied jazz in Manchester with Stuart Riley and later at the RSAMD with Tony Alcock. Neil is a veteran of the Scottish jazz scene and also in demand on the traditional Scottish circuit. He has made numerous recordings and festival appearances including Glasgow International Jazz Festival, Celtic Connections and the Tokyo Celtic Festival. For the last five years, Neil has been a regular member of the Orchestra of Scottish Ballet.
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Cumbrian soprano Alexa trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before taking part in English National Opera's OperaWorks programme.
Subsequent cover roles at ENO include First Squire/Flowermaiden 'Parsifal', Susanna 'The Marriage of Figaro' and Iris Marinus in the premiere of Van der Aa’s 'Sunken Garden', with principal roles in Glass' 'Akhnaten' (2016) 'Jakob Lenz' (2012) and the world premiere of Joanna Lee’s 'The Way Back Home', directed by Katie Mitchell at The Young Vic in December 2014.
Other opera roles performed include Clorinda 'Cenerentola' and Gretel 'Hansel & Gretel' for HighTime Opera in 2015 and 2016, Ortlinde 'Die Walküre' and Wellgunde 'Das Rheingold/Götterdämmerung' for Fulham Opera, Zerlina 'Don Giovanni', Tina 'Flight', and Eurydice 'Orfeo ed Eurydice', as well as a concert performance of Zdenka in Strauss' 'Arabella' for Fulham Opera in 2016.
Alexa’s concert work with The Auricle Ensemble has seen her tour Scotland with contemporary chamber works such as Schoenberg’s seminal work 'Pierrot Lunaire' and Maxwell Davies’ 'Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot', as well as programmes of diverse Cabaret songs, Mahler works, and a performance of Polly Peachum in Weill’s 'The Threepenny Opera'.
Her soprano/clarinet/piano chamber trio Tenacious T’Weed also perform throughout Scotland.
Alexa was soloist for the first live performance of the Philip Glass/Ravi Shankar album 'Passages' at the 2017 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Forthcoming work includes creating the role of Dawn in Nico Muhly's new opera 'Marnie', opening at ENO in November 2017. www.alexamason.com
Mezzo soprano Úna studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM), before completing her masters training at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD). On the concert platform Úna has performed in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, St John Passion, and Magnificat, Handel’s Messiah, Saint-Saens Oratorio de Noel, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Haydn’s Paukenmesse, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Requiem, Mass in C, and Spatzenmesse, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater. Her operatic roles include, Amore (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Dorothee (Cendrillon), cover of Stewardess (Flight), cover of Nancy (Albert Herring), Olga (Eugene Onegin), and Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), La Maestra delle Novizie (Suor Angelica) and the title role in La Cenerentola. Una has toured with the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company performing the roles of Tessa (The Gondoliers), and Peep-Bo (The Mikado). She also premiered Laura Bowler’s solo work 'Women Conduct' at the Tête à Tête festival, London.
Úna’s work with the Auricle Ensemble has seen her perform the solo in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Kindertotenlieder and take on the role of Jenny Diver in The Threepenny Opera. Úna has worked with the chorus of Scottish Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and covered the role of Margarida for the Glyndebourne on Tour production of Julian Philips’ The Yellow Sofa.
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Joanna Tope studied for a degree in Drama at Manchester University and spent the following ten years in the Repertory movement in Britain which included creating roles in plays by Alan Ayckbourn, Edward Bond and Henry Livings . She enjoyed a stint on Emmerdale Farm amongst her TV and radio credits at that time. She married and came to live in Scotland and has since appeared frequently at the Citizens' , where she created roles for Robert David Macdonald and Clare Venables, the Royal Lyceum and the Traverse . She premiered the one-woman 'Promises Promises' by Douglas Maxwell in which , as 'The Promise', she was nominated for a New York Drama Desk Award. Maxwell's two- hander 'A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity' also played at E59 Theater in New York as well as the Traverse . Other companies she has worked for include Random Accomplice , Stellar Quines, Lung Ha and The Auricle Ensemble. Recent experiences have been appearing in 'Still Game Live Show 2' at the Glasgow Hydro and Gary McNair's 'Locker Room Talk' at Latitude Festival and the Edinburgh Festival and a Scottish tour of 'Horizontal Collaboration' with Fire Exit. Radio work is prolific and she has recorded plays, Books at Bedtime , Books of the Week, Short Stories and several Audio Books .
Crawford recently completed a very successful Edinburgh Fringe in Cumbernauld Theatre's 'The Gardener', even picking up a 5* review with picture in The Times, and has been fortunate over many years to have appeared in theatres all over the UK and abroad, including the West End. In 2013 he appeared 319 times in ‘The Woman In Black’ at the Fortune Theatre in London’s Covent Garden, seeing in both the 25th year of this famous play and it’s 10,000th performance. Crawford has been a familiar voice on BBC Radio over many years, in particular as the suave author/detective Paul Temple in the Paul Temple Mysteries on Radio 4. He is a veteran of dozens of audiobook recordings and hundreds of voiceovers for radio and television. Crawford recently performed 'The Lighthouse Keepers' with Red Note Ensemble and earlier this year 'Beethoven's Letters' with the Carducci Quartet. He has a long association with the Tallis Chamber Choir in London and with the compositions of Sally Beamish, and among others has appeared with the Rose Consort of Viols, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Fidelio Trio, Trio Isimsiz and the Rosenethe Singers. He is also a very occasional member of a band called The Martians!