The Gaudier Ensemble

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

Performing last year were:

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.

Henrik Brenstrup


Born in Denmark, the cellist Henrik Brendstrup studied at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen with Erling Bløndal Bengtsson, and later in London with William Pleeth and Ralph Kirshbaum.

In 1987 he made his first tour, and shortly afterwards he became a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Henrik has worked closely with the orchestra ever since, now as an associate member.

He has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, and is a regular guest at international chamber music festivals such as Risør, Stavanger, Oslo and Lockenhaus.

His numerous recordings include the complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven, solo works for cello by Sofia Gubaidulina, and cello works by Chopin and Liszt which won the French “Diapason d’Or” award. In 1996, Henrik received the Danish Music Critics’ Artist’s Prize

A very active chamber musician, Henrik has been the cellist of several leading ensembles in Denmark, such as The Danish String Quartet, the string sextet “Copenhagen Classic” and the Gefion Trio.

He is Professor of cello and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music, Århus, Denmark, and gives masterclasses all over the world.

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 Gaudier and the Nash Ensemble. 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 all been “First Choices” on the BBC’s “Record Review” programme in recent years. He has a large class of clarinet students at the Royal College of Music, who now visit Dorset annually for a clarinet course and concert at Ashton Farm.

Richard was recently made a Fellow of the RCM.

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. In June this year she will play works for solo cello and electronics at Kings Place.

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. A

s 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.

Jonathan Williams


Jonathan was born in England and studied with Sydney Coulston at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He was for many years a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. 

He is a founder member of the Wind Soloists of the COE, and of the Gaudier Ensemble. In recent years, he has been freelancing in London with English National Opera, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Mozart Players.


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.

Susan Tomes


Susan has won numerous awards, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio. 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 been at the heart of the internationally renowned groups Domus and the Florestan Trio, and has played with the Gaudier Ensemble for thirty years. In 2013 she was awarded the Cobbett Medal for her services to chamber music. She has made over fifty CDs, many of which have become benchmark recordings. She has served on many international competition juries and will be chairing the Piano Trio jury at the ARD International Competition in Munich this September.

Susan is a writer as well as a pianist. She has written six acclaimed books about performing: Beyond the Notes (2004), A Musician’s Alphabet (2006), Out of Silence (2010), Sleeping in Temples (2014), Speaking the Piano (2018), and The Piano – a History in 100 Pieces (2021). Her books are studied on performance practice courses around the English-speaking world and have inspired several PhDs. Her appeal to a diverse readership was demonstrated by her appearances at the 2016 and 2019 Edinburgh International Book Festivals, which attracted large audiences.  Her latest book, due to be published next spring by Yale, is a history of women playing the piano. Inspired by her research, she has started giving recitals of rarely-heard piano music by female composers.

Lydia Lowndes-Northcott


New Zealand born, Lydia began playing at the age of seven. Her family emigrated to England, where she was home-educated with her siblings at a farm in Somerset, before winning a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School, and later an unconditional scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. During her time at the RAM she won many prizes, including a special award for the highest mark in her year for her outstanding final recital.

Lydia enjoys a busy and varied career, dividing her time between orchestras, chamber music and studio work. She is regularly invited as guest principal for the London Mozart Players, the Aurora Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of John Wilson’s Sinfonia of London as well as co-principal in the English Chamber Orchestra. Her studio work has given exciting opportunities to work closely with Hollywood’s film composers and directors. Lydia appears on the scores of many of the latest blockbuster movies as well as TV, pop and radio.

Lydia has worked in major concert venues across the world with artists such as Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman, Maxim Vengerov and Martha Argerich. Most recently, Lydia has enjoyed chamber music with Guy Johnston, who has links to Dorset, where Lydia lives with her children and horses.

She has been a member of the critically acclaimed Tippett Quartet since the summer of 2012.

Lydia plays on a 1682 Grancino viola.

Iris Juda


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

A founder member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, with whom she still plays regularly, she has also played with the Nash Ensemble, the Hanson String Quartet, the Endymion Ensemble and the Hagen String Quartet. In 1995, Iris moved to Salzburg where she plays in an Austrian folk group and is Principal Viola with the Camerata Salzburg. 

Iris says that Cerne Abbas is a highlight of her year, “celebrating the beauty of music created by the Ensemble’s mutual love and friendship”.

Robert Philip

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 with the Open University, first as a BBC Arts Producer and then as a Lecturer in Music.

His first two books 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 Record Review and at pre-concert talks. His third book, The Classical Music Lover’s Companion to Orchestral Music, was published by Yale University Press in 2018. Bob’s latest book, A Little History of Music, was described in Musical Opinion as ‘a major achievement … just what is needed at the present time … compelling and enveloping in its scope and clarity’.


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