Sirocco Winds / wind quintet
Formed in 2012 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Sirocco Winds are a dynamic and professional wind quintet. Based in Glasgow, they pride themselves on being a young, enthusiastic and vibrant group. Its members are graduates of the RCS and come from all over the UK. Their individual achievements include performing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and performing concerti across the UK. The group is versatile and committed to providing quality chamber music for any occasion and their repertoire includes a variety of styles from wind quintet standards and rarely performed works, to their own personal arrangements or new commissions.They also enjoy delivering education projects as part of their work as an ensemble, which involves creating new and innovative ways of introducing music to a diverse audience. Recent successes include winning the Governors’ Recital Prize for Chamber Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, being invited to perform at the prestigious Commonwealth Gala Concert in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, playing live on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Scotland and entertaining guests on the National Trust for Scotland’s Colours of the Celts cruise.
Matthew Howells (flute) received a scholarship in 2012 to study at the RCS with Katherine Bryan (Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra), Richard Blake (Principal, Scottish Opera) and Janet Richardson (Piccolo, RSNO) and is now a Masters graduate. Previously, Matthew studied at the University of Manchester and Chetham’s School of Music where he studied with Linda Verrier and Richard Davis. Whilst at Chetham’s, Matthew played principal flute in the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra performing at prestigious music venues such as the Bridgewater Hall and Cadogan Hall. He also played in a live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 for Chetham’s 40th Anniversary Concert. At the end of his final year, he was awarded the Francis Willink Memorial Prize for his flute studies. As an orchestral musician, Matthew successfully auditioned for professional apprenticeship schemes with the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Opera. This has led to exciting experiences including touring India with the BBCSSO in April 2014. He is also principal flute with The Constella Orchestra comprising of students from conservatoires across the UK and performing regular concerts across London. Whilst in Manchester, Matthew performed Schwertsik’s Instant Music as a concerto soloist with the University Chamber Ensemble and this year he will be performing three further concerti, two at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a premiere of a new work with the Edinburgh Contemporary Ensemble. He is also an orchestral member of Noel Music Management which provides orchestral opportunities for young talented musicians across the UK and abroad. As a chamber musician, he belongs to the Scottish-based flute trio Champagne Flutes who are members of the Live Music Now Scheme.
Alice McArthur (oboe) grew up in Nottingham where she took up the oboe at the age of 10. She studied for her Bachelor of Music degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama under Catriona MacKinnon (Welsh National Opera), John Anderson (English Chamber Orchestra) and Sarah-Jayne Porsmogeur (BBC National Orchestra of Wales). During her third year, Alice was the winner of the Howarth Double Reed Prize, adjudicated by world-renowned oboist, Gordon Hunt. She was also fortunate enough to take part in the Welsh National Opera’s Placement Scheme.
In 2014, Alice was offered a scholarship to continue her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where she is in the first year of her Master’s degree. She studies oboe and cor anglais with Stephen West (formally Royal Scottish National Orchestra) and James Horan (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra).
Orchestrally, Alice has played principal oboe in the RWCMD Symphony and Chamber orchestras as well as with the professional Welsh chamber orchestra. Sinfonia Cymru. During her time at the RCS, she has played principal oboe in the Symphony Orchestra, including a performance of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti.
As a chamber musician, Alice was a member of the Willow Trio who regularly gave recitals in the Cardiff areas as well as playing for a St. David’s Day event in Brussels for the Welsh Assembly Government. She has also given a performance of Poulenc’s Sextet on BBC Radio 3 with one of the UK’s most prolific clarinettists, Michael Collins.
In July 2011, Calum Robertson (clarinet) graduated 1st class honours, on the BMus course, from Glasgow’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama studying clarinet with John Cushing (RSNO). He then completed the one year Master’s in performance course at the newly named Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Teachers included Lewis Morrison (former principal SCO) and Maxmiliano Martin (principal SCO). He freelances regularly with the RSNO and orchestra of Scottish Opera. He has played with The Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra based in London and has been principal with The Edinburgh Youth Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. In July 2011 he took part in the prestigious London Symphony Orchestra Woodwind Academy. He won numerous prizes at the RSAMD including The Classical Concerto Competition and The Governors Woodwind Recital prize adjudicated by Janet Hilton. In 2008 he won The Concerto Prize at The Edinburgh Competition Festival. In January 2010 he performed Nielsen’s clarinet concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as part of a joint scheme with the RSAMD.
He has premiered new works for clarinet in the 2011 RSAMD Plug Festival, with fellow clarinettist Fraser Langton, including works by Rory Boyle, Steve Foreman and Timothy Miles. He performs regularly with pianist John Bryden around the UK including concerts in Edinburgh, London, Dorset, Somerset and Loch Lomond. He plays with The Stevenson’s Wind Ensemble based in Glasgow and performed with many leading soloists including violinist Ilya Gringolts, trumpeter Mark O’Keefe and oboist Emmanuel Laville. In March 2010 he was interviewed for BBC Radio 3 and performed James MacMillan’s From Galloway for solo clarinet. Calum is also a keen organist and holds the post of Organ Scholar at Old Saint Pauls Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, and is also part of the organ and trumpet duo ‘Pistons and Pipes’ with Tom Poulson.
Since 1999 Michael Barr (french horn) has played in various orchestras including the Ulster Orchestra, and he has freelanced in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Spain. Michael gained a scholarship place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to study a Masters in Performance. While there, he took part in many ensembles and played regularly with the symphony orchestra. He was accepted into the 2011 apprenticeship scheme with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and took part in a number of rehearsals with the orchestra under the baton of Neeme Järvi. The same year he was also accepted onto the Scottish Opera apprenticeship scheme and performed Prokofiev’s ‘Betrothal in a Monastery.’ Chamber ensembles include Stevenson Winds and Antares Wind Quintet. He led the Ulster Youth Orchestra horn section for three years and the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra (CBYO) section for four years. As a soloist with the orchestra, he performed Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4 and played principal 1st horn for Schumann’s Konzertstück for four horns. He has toured in England, Spain, Slovenia, Italy and France and performed twice in the Royal Albert Hall. Michael won the Charles Gault Trophy for Brass from the CBSM in 2009/2010 and gained a place at the Clandeboye Music Festival in Northern Ireland, playing in the students’ recital in the summer of 2011. He has taken part in many masterclasses with renowned horn players Fergus McWilliams, Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins, David Pyatt and Kristian Steenstrup. During his time at Queen’s, Michael ran a small recording studio from his house recording local bands, chamber groups and larger ensembles. He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2010 with a Music Technology Degree, First Class Honours. He is also interested in instrument augmentation and has designed live performance systems for live improvisation on acoustic instruments.
Gillian Horn (bassoon) grew up in Glasgow and took up the bassoon aged 10. Less than one year later she was accepted into the National Children’s Orchestra of Scotland and this led to playing in many youth and amateur orchestras such as the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, West of Scotland School’s Symphony Orchestra, Amicus Orchestra and the Heisenberg Ensemble.
After four years in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s junior department, Gillian went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree and was offered a scholarship to continue her studies on the MMus programme, where she has now completed her first year. In her time at RCS, Gillian has studied with Janet Bloxwich (Principal Bassoon, Orchestra of Scottish Opera), David Hubbard (Principal Bassoon, Royal Scottish National Orchestra) and Peter Whelan (Principal Bassoon, Scottish Chamber Orchestra).
A keen orchestral player during her time at the RCS, Gillian has played Principal Bassoon in the Conservatoire’s Symphony, Opera and Chamber Orchestras. She has also enjoyed playing with smaller ensembles such as Stevenson Winds and in the exciting contemporary music festival, Plug. In her third year she won a place on the highly coveted RSNO/RCS Mentoring Scheme and has been involved in several side-by-side schemes with the BBC SSO. Gillian has also played with the prestigious Young Musician’s Symphony Orchestra on several occasions.
Gillian is a grateful recipient of scholarships from the Dewar Arts Awards, Musician’s Benevolent Fund, Wolfson Trust, and Craxton Memorial Trust.