The Gaudier Ensemble

Described by the Sunday Times as “one of the world’s élite ensembles” the Gaudier Ensemble was formed in 1988 by a group of international musicians, founder members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, who wanted to perform and record the chamber music repertoire for wind, strings and piano.

Ever since its first Wigmore Hall appearance, which received extensive critical acclaim, the Ensemble has forged an international reputation as one of the finest mixed chamber ensembles. Its first recording of the Schubert Octet was recommended as first choice for the BBC’s feature “Building a Library”, and its many recordings for the Hyperion label have been regularly recommended in the press.

Its members have distinguished themselves as soloists, chamber musicians, and orchestral principals now working with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, English Chamber Orchestra, The Philharmonia, National Orchestra of Wales and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

A two year residency at Kettle’s Yard in the University of Cambridge enabled them to develop their repertoire and establish their distinctive musical identity, before going on to forge an international concert and recording career.

A full list of the Gaudier Ensemble’s many recordings with Hyperion may be viewed via the website: A selection of these recordings will be on sale during the Festival.

More information and a discography can be found on the website’s Gaudier Ensemble page.

 Image © Jane Tearle


Marieke Blankestijn


Born in the Netherlands, Marieke studied with Herman Krebbers and Sandor Végh. She is a founder member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and has been their leader since 1985. With them she has also appeared as a soloist working with conductors including Claudio Abbado, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Bernard Haitink. With the Chamber Orchestra of Europe she has recorded and directed all the Brandenburg Concertos and made her own recording of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’. She has recorded the Haydn ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ with Stephen Isserlis and the Bach ‘Oboe and Violin Concerto’ with Douglas Boyd. In 2012 Marieke was appointed Leader of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, so she now commutes between Rotterdam and Dorset.

Lesley Hatfield


Lesley Hatfield leads a varied musical life, combining her role as Leader of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with chamber music, solo playing and teaching.
After graduating from Clare College, Cambridge, she studied at the Royal Academy of Music.

During her early career, as a chamber musician and member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, she worked with Sandor Vegh and Nicholas Harnoncourt, both of whom had a lasting influence on her musical approach. She was co-Leader of the Northern Sinfonia and Leader of the Ulster Orchestra before taking up her current position.

Lesley is actively involved as Patron of ‘Making Music, Changing Lives’, a Cardiff-based charity which seeks to transform the lives of children and the communities from which they come, through music and providing the opportunity to learn musical instruments. Recently she was appointed Trustee of the Albert and Eugenie Frost Trust.

Lesley is a Fellow of both the Royal Academy of Music and of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She lives near Cardiff, where she is to be found, when time permits between musical commitments, tending to her garden.

(Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)

Ulrika Jansson


Originally from Västervik, a small harbour town on the east coast of Sweden, Ulrika has lived in Stockholm since she started her musical education at the Royal College of Music aged 16.

Her violin has taken her all around the world in many musical constellations: everything from jazz with drummer Max Roach’s quartet and a Czardas duet with Rumanian violin king Roby Lakatos, to a Schubert quartet providing interval music in Swedish television’s Eurovision Song Contest final.

Membership of The Chamber Orchestra of Europe has had a profound effect on her life. The joy of making music with fantastic colleagues has never faded and lifelong friendships have ensued. It was also in the COE where she met her husband, a British trombonist, whom she snapped up and took to Sweden!

Ulrika has been co-leader of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra for many years. She loves the contrast this provides to her active life as a chamber musician, and she particularly enjoys her yearly visits to the unique and beautiful environment of Cerne Abbas.

Ulrika spends as much time as she can at the family farm in Småland, tending to the forestry plantations.


Iris Juda


Iris Juda was born in Holland and studied violin with her father Jo Juda (leader Concertgebouw Orchester Amsterdam), Hermann Krebbers in Amsterdam and with Sandor Végh in Salzburg.

She was a founder member and has been Marieke’s deskpartner in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for many years. She played from 1985-1990 as a member of the Hanson String Quartet. After that she played with the Nash Ensemble and also joined the Endymion Ensemble as violist. Iris moved to Salzburg in 1995 where she still lives with her husband and two children. There she plays in an Austrian folk group and is Principal viola with the Camerata Salzburg.


Ursula Smith


Ursula is an established chamber musician who has played at many international festivals, and has collaborated with musicians including Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Steven Isserlis and Heinz Holliger. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Yale University, and is currently a Professor of Cello at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she is also Senior Tutor in Chamber Music.

Ursula was a member of the Zehetmair Quartet from 2006 to 2012 and the Quartet’s recording of Bartók’s Fifth Quartet won the chamber music Diapason d’Or in 2007. Other chamber music discs include the complete Beethoven folk songs for piano trio and voice with pianist Malcolm Martineau. She was a jury member of the International Mozart Competition for String Quartets in Salzburg in 2014 and was on the jury of the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2019.

As a soloist, she has performed with conductors including Andrew Litton, Jorma Panula and Mark Wigglesworth, and she gave the UK premiere of Nigel Osborne’s Cello Concerto. She was Principal Cello of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for a decade from 1993, and has guest-led the cello sections of famous orchestras in Birmingham, Liverpool and the Netherlands. Her CD of Britten’s complete Cello Suites and two new commissions from Sally Beamish and Jacob Anderskov was released in June 2022.

Sally Pendlebury


Sally is a member of The Angel Piano Trio and Möbius Ensemble. She regularly plays guest principal cello with London Sinfonietta, Philharmonia, RPO, Royal Northern Sinfonia, ECO, BBC Philharmonic and RSNO. She is a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and was cello section leader of Opera North for 5 years. She also works regularly with Andras Schiff’s group ‘Andrea Barca’, with whom she has toured Europe and the Far East. Until recently she was a member of the Fitzwilliam Quartet with whom she recorded the last three Shostakovich quartets and the three late Schubert quartets. Both recordings have recently been released to critical acclaim. In recent years, Sally performed all the Beethoven Cello Sonatas with pianist Ian Buckle in the Leeds International Concert Series and gave the British premiere of Caroline Shaw’s ‘In Manus Tuas’ for solo cello in the London Spitalfields Festival. Sally has taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Northern College of Music, and is now professor of cello at Trinity Laban. This year Sally will be playing in summer festivals throughout the UK, and will be performing chamber music in Gstaad at the invitation of Andras Schiff.

Stephen Williams

Double Bass

Steve was born and grew up in South Wales, attending a vast comprehensive school where everyone had the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. Starting bass lessons when he was 14, he played in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and the first ever European Youth Orchestra under Claudio Abbado. Following four years at the Guildhall School, studying with Kevin Rundell and Tom Martin, he joined the RPO for several years, touring widely with Antal Dorati, Paavo Berglund, Kurt Masur and André Previn. In 1987 he was appointed principal bass with the English Chamber Orchestra, performing and recording with Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Pinchas Zukerman and Jeffrey Tate. Steve holds the same position with the Britten Sinfonia. Recent activities include working as guest principal with the LPO and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and recording as a guest with the Tippett Quartet. As a studio player he has worked with Adele, Billie Eilish and Josh Groban. Steve plays an Italian bass made in the 16th century.

Michael Cox


Michael is Principal Flute of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players and the London Sinfonietta. Solo projects have included performances of the Mozart, Nielsen, Dalbavie, Wennaskoski, Holt and Blake concerti in London, and Boulez’s “Explosante Fixe” in Scotland. He has also made recordings of songs with tenor James Gilchrist and mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly. Other recent recordings have included new unaccompanied and chamber works by George Benjamin, amongst others, and three new solo albums. Recognised also for his contribution to new music, he has given many World and UK premieres and he has been the dedicatee of many new works. Michael Cox is a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher, and many of his students are now in orchestras around the world. He has launched two pedagogal websites in recent years, to support players in all parts of the globe, and has given his unique curricular flute course in the UK, Portugal, Greece, Canada and Australia. Michael lives with his family in a hill-top village near Oxford.

Richard Hosford


Richard was born and brought up on a farm near Melcombe Bingham in Dorset. After studying with Patrick Shelley, of Dorset Opera fame, he went to the Royal College of Music in London. He was a founder member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and met many of the Gaudier Ensemble there in the early 1980s. He has since been Principal Clarinet of the London Philharmonic and now the BBC Symphony Orchestra. In chamber music, he divides his time between the Gaudiers and the Nash Ensemble. He has a large class of clarinet students at the Royal College of Music, which was a particular challenge during lockdown. Richard has been made a Fellow of the RCM. He has performed concertos with many orchestras, recently broadcasting the Copland Concerto with the BBCSO. His recordings of the Copland Concerto, the Brahms Quintet and the Brahms Trio have been “First Choices” on the BBC’s “Record Review” programme in recent years.

Robin O’Neill


Robin O’Neill is principal bassoonist with the Philharmonia Orchestra and has held the same position with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the English Chamber Orchestra. He is a member of London Winds and the Gaudier Ensemble.

He is a Grammy-nominated recording artist and has recorded virtually the whole of the core chamber music repertoire, with more than 40 CDs to his name on labels such as Hyperion, Chandos, Decca and Philips. He has collaborated with musicians such as Mikhail Pletnev, Mitsuko Uchida, Stephen Kovacevich and Pinchas Zukerman. He has also performed by invitation for His Royal Highness Charles Prince of Wales. In his parallel career as conductor he has conducted, amongst others, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, London Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

He is professor of conducting at the Royal College of Music.

Stephen Stirling


Stephen Stirling is a horn soloist and chamber musician of worldwide renown. His discography includes over 90 chamber works and concertos, many of them world premiere recordings, of both contemporary and neglected works by British composers alongside the great masterpieces for horn. His second recording of the Brahms Horn Trio, with the Florestan Trio (Hyperion), was nominated for a Gramophone award and his set of Mozart Horn Concertos (BMG/Classic FM) with the City of London Sinfonia has been broadcast hundreds of times by Classic FM. The Concertino for Horn by Weber (Chandos), conducted by Michael Collins is also much broadcast. He has played at chamber music festivals all over the world to glowing reviews, ‘phenomenal’ (Berlin) and ‘incomparable’ (Graz). The CD ‘Horn’, with the Fibonacci Sequence on Deux Elles features both favourite and obscure masterpieces from the horn repertoire. During the pandemic, in conjunction with Anthony Halstead, he researched and recorded a CD ‘From Dennis Brain’s Library’, unearthing unknown manuscripts and forgotten works for horn and piano, for the MPR label. The recording has proven so popular that a Volume 2 is now being planned.

 He is the principal horn of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the City of London Sinfonia and the Orchestra of St John’s, and appears regularly as guest principal with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has played as soloist with the ASMF and CLS, the Orchestra of St Johns, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, The Chamber Orchestra of Europe and many others.

 Throughout his career Stephen has been associated with innovative ensembles. The New London Chamber Ensemble was one of the first groups, now much imitated, to pioneer choreographed performances in wind chamber music. In collaboration with Endymion, Capricorn, the NLCE, the Fibonacci Sequence, Arpege, the Composers Ensemble and the Hebrides Ensemble, he has been involved with commissioning, premiering and recording countless new works, chamber and solo, working with some of the finest composers of our time, James Macmillan, Martin Butler, Harrison Birtwistle, Thomas Adés, Sally Beamish, Bret Dean, Jörg Widmann, and Gary Carpenter to name a few. He was an early member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe which revolutionised performance practice of the classical repertoire on modern instruments through their work with Niklaus Harnoncourt and recently Stephen has enjoyed working for Aurora Orchestra in memorised live orchestral performances of Beethoven, Mozart, and Brahms symphonies.

 Stephen is Professor of Horn at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, coach to the horns of the National Youth Chamber Orchestra (UK) and a faculty member of the Yellow Barn International Summer Music School and Festival in Vermont, USA.

Susan Tomes


Susan Tomes has won numerous international awards as a pianist, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio, including several Gramophone Awards and the 2013 Cobbett Medal for distinguished service to chamber music. She grew up in Edinburgh and was the first woman to take a degree in music at King’s College, Cambridge. Her career encompasses solo, duo and chamber playing; she has made over fifty CDs and has been at the heart of the internationally admired ensembles Domus, the Gaudier Ensemble and the Florestan Trio with whom she won a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. She has served on international music competition juries in London, Vienna, Munich, Trondheim, Graz, Lyon and Weimar.

Since the 1980s, when as a founder member of Domus she helped to put up the portable geodesic dome which enabled the group to perform in unusual settings, she has explored ways of reaching out to listeners. As the author of six acclaimed books and a long-running blog, she has carved out a special niche as an interpreter both of music and of the classical performer’s life. Her most recent book, The Piano – a History in 100 Pieces, was published in 2021 by Yale University Press and launched with a concert at Wigmore Hall in London. It was a ‘Book of the Year’ in The Spectator, the Financial Times and The Scotsman, and won a Presto Music Award.

Sarah Frances Jenkins


Since winning BBC Young Composer in 2017, Sarah’s music has been commissioned and premiered by ensembles including the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Aurora Orchestra, Gaudier Ensemble and the Solem Quartet. Her music has been performed in venues including the Queen Elizabeth Hall, St David’s Hall, the BBC Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House, BBC Hoddinott Hall and has been broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Recent commissions have included new works for the Vale of Glamorgan Festival (where she was Featured Composer in 2021, alongside composers Judith Weir and Peteris Vasks), the Presteigne Festival, and the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival. Her work inhabits striking and atmospheric sound worlds and is often inspired by the natural world.

As a clarinettist, Sarah was awarded The Musicians’ Company Silver Medal in 2020 and is now a member of the Musicians’ Company Young Artists’ programme. Sarah is a passionate educator and has been a BBC Proms Inspire Ambassador since 2017, where she helps to facilitate creative music workshops for young people.

In July 2020, Sarah graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with the Principal’s Award for Music. Sarah completed a postgraduate degree in clarinet and composition at the Royal College of Music in July 2022, where she was a Wilkins-Mackerras Award Holder.


Robert Philip

Festival Talks and Programme Notes

Robert Philip studied organ, piano and bassoon at the Royal College of Music and went on to Peterhouse, Cambridge as the organ scholar. For many years he worked as a BBC producer of arts programmes for the Open University.

He later became a music lecturer at the Open University and wrote teaching material for several of its Arts courses. He is the author of two books which pioneered the study of the history of performance on recordings, and helped to create an entirely new academic discipline.

As a speaker, he is a well-known voice on Radio 3’s CD Review and at pre-concert talks. His third book, The Music-Lover’s Companion to Orchestral Music, will be published in October by Yale University Press.


Cerne Abbas Music Festival 2022