Sirocco Winds / wind quintet
Sirocco Winds are a dynamic and professional wind ensemble comprising of current Masters students or graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Although based in Glasgow, its members come from all over the UK. They were formed in 2012 and pride themselves on being a young, enthusiastic and vibrant group. Sirocco Winds are represented by Classical Musicians Scotland, the first agency of its kind in Scotland, representing some of the finest vocal and instrumental talent in the country.
Successes for the group include winning the Governors’ Recital Prize for Chamber Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, being invited to perform at the Emerging Artists series at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and playing live on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio Scotland.Although primarily a wind quintet the group also enjoy exploring chamber music for other instrument combinations and have formed a trio for flute, clarinet and bassoon. In this formation they were accepted on to the Live Music Now Scheme for Scotland using their talents for the benefit of those who are otherwise excluded from the joy of experiencing live music.
Individually, members of the group have worked with orchestras and ensembles such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Hebrides Ensemble and Red Note (Scotland’s Contemporary Music Ensemble).The group is versatile and committed to providing quality chamber music for any occasion including a variety of styles from wind quintet standards and rarely performed works, to our own personal arrangements or new commissions. They also enjoy education projects as part of their work as an ensemble, which involves creating new and innovative ways of introducing music to a diverse audience.
Matthew Howells is a Masters graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland after receiving a scholarship in 2012 to study there with Katherine Bryan (Principal, Royal Scottish National Orchestra), Richard Blake (Principal, Scottish Opera) and Janet Richardson (Piccolo, RSNO). Previously, Matthew studied at the University of Manchester and Chetham’s School of Music where he studied with Linda Verrier and Richard Davis (BBC Philharmonic).
Whilst at Chetham’s, Matthew played principal flute in the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra allowing him to perform 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.
Whilst in Manchester, Matthew performed Schwertsik’s Instant Music as a concerto soloist with the University Chamber Ensemble and since then, he has performed three further concerti, two at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a premiere of a new work with the Edinburgh Contemporary Ensemble.
Since graduating, Matthew has performed with orchestras across the UK including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, including a tour to India in 2014. Matthew has also appeared as a soloist on BBC’s Songs of Praise in 2015. More recently, he has also taken up a regular teaching position at Erskine Stewart’s Melville School in Edinburgh, alongside private tuition in Glasgow.
He also has a passion for musical theatre and works regularly in the Glasgow scene as a performer as well as a musical director for companies including Acquire: A Creative Choral Ensemble, Glasgow Music Theatre and Glasgow Live Productions.
Alice McArthur 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 in Cardiff under Catriona MacKinnon (Welsh National Opera), John Anderson (English Chamber Orchestra) and Sarah – Jayne Porsmoguer (BBC National Orchestra of Wales). Whilst there, 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 studied for her Master’s degree with Stephen West (formally Royal Scottish National Orchestra) and James Horan (BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra).
During her time at the RCS, Alice played principal oboe in the Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions, including a performance of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto with Nicola Benedetti and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. She also gave a performance of Poulenc’s Sextet with Michael Collins, one of the UK’s most prolific clarinettists, which was recorded for BBC Radio 3. She was selected to take part in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Mentoring Scheme which allowed her to gain valuable orchestral experience. Whilst on the Scheme, she took part in the BBC’s ‘Ten Pieces’ concerts, performing in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee for children across Scotland.
Since graduating, Alice plays frequently in freelance orchestras around Scotland and teaches privately in the Glasgow area.
Calum Robertson is a Live Music Now Scotland artist and graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, receiving a BMus Honours first class degree in July 2011 and a Masters in Performance in November 2012 on clarinet, having studied with John Cushing (former Principal RSNO). During those five years he won The Mary D Adams Prize for Chamber Music, the Classical Concerto Competition and The Governors’ Woodwind Recital Prize.
In January 2010 he performed Carl Nielsen’s clarinet concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as part of a joint scheme with the RCS and in February of that year he was interviewed and broadcast Sir James MacMillan’s solo work From Galloway on BBC Radio 3. In January 2014 he was awarded The Harriet Cohen Memorial Award for young musicians establishing careers resulting in a new commission for clarinet and choir by Claire McCue called Kneeling which he has since recorded with Old Saint Paul’s choir, Edinburgh.
He freelances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Orchestra of Scottish Opera and has appeared as Guest Principal with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and the RSNO. In August 2013 he made his Edinburgh International Festival debut in a performance of Pierrot Lunaire with Scottish Ballet. He plays with The David Patrick Ensemble and recorded an album, The Jazz Rites of Spring, in 2015.
As organist, Calum is Assistant Director of Music at Old Saint Paul’s, Episcopal Church, Edinburgh and is part of the trumpet and organ duo, Pistons and Pipes, with Tom Poulson. Calum is also part of the soprano and clarinet duo with Sally Carr.
Calum has commissioned and premiered many new works including “Prey” by Claire McCue, “Reed Talk” by Rory Boyle, Twitch by American composer Tim Miles and “Hot Chocolate” by American composer, Kyle Berry.
Gillian Horn was born in Glasgow and took up the bassoon aged 10. She studied for both her Bachelor and Masters’ degrees at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, taking lessons from Peter Whelan (SCO), Alison Green (SCO) and David Hubbard (RSNO). A highly active ensemble player, she was successful in winning places on the coveted mentoring schemes with RSNO and SCO, the latter of which culminated in three highly acclaimed performances of Mozart’s Gran Partita for Winds and a BBC Radio 3 broadcast. In 2018, Gillian was invited to join the SCO for their annual Highland summer tour.
Gillian has a particular love of opera and has been Principal Bassoon of Raucous Rossini opera company since 2015, touring the UK and Umbria (Italy) each summer. In 2018 she appeared as a soloist with RR performing Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Winds. She has also played as principal bassoon with New Generation Festival (Florence), Clyde Opera Group, Edinburgh Grand Opera, Magnetic Opera and the Scottish Concert Orchestra.
Chamber music has always been Gillian’s passion. Aside from Sirocco Winds, Gillian is also a founding member of the Genovia Quartet – an all-female bassoon quartet formed at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015. Within the Conservatoire they were awarded Highly Commended in the Governor’s Prize for Chamber Music, and subsequently awarded the Mary D Adams Prize – a school-wide award for achievement in chamber music. Represented by Live Music Now Scotland and Classical Musicians Scotland, they have performed all over the country including Westbourne Music, Leeds College of Music, Usher Hall and Glasgow Cathedral Festival. In summer 2018 the quartet were invited to Granada to perform at the prestigious International Double Reed Society Conference to high acclaim.
Gillian is a grateful recipient of scholarships from Dewar Arts Awards, Musicians Benevolent Trust, Wolfson Trust, Craxton Memorial Trust and the EMI Music Sound Foundation.
Gillian has been a proud member of Sirocco Winds since May 2016.
Michael Barr has played french horn in various orchestras since 1999. He has played professionally with the Ulster Orchestra and freelanced in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Spain.
After gaining a place at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) with a Scholarship to study a Masters in Performance, he took part in many ensembles throughout his time at the Conservatoire and played regularly with the symphony orchestra. He was successful in the 2011 apprenticeship scheme with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and attended and took part in a number of rehearsals with the orchestra under the baton of Neeme Järvi. The same year he was also successful in the Scottish Opera apprenticeship scheme and performed Prokofiev’s ‘Betrothal in a Monastery’ with Scottish Opera. Michael has also played with a number of chamber groups including Sirocco Winds, Stevenson Winds and Antares Wind Quintet among others.
Michael led the Ulster Youth Orchestra horn section for 3 years and the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra (CBYO) section for 4. With this orchestra, as a soloist, 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 the year 2009/2010 and also gained a place at the Clandeboye Music Festival in Northern Ireland playing in the students’ recital in the summer of 2011. He has also taken part in many masterclasses with renowned horn players such as Fergus McWilliams, Michael Thompson, Richard Watkins, David Pyatt and also brass teacher, 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. Michael graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 2010 from a Music Technology Degree with First Class Honours. He is also interested in instrument augmentation and has designed live performance systems for live improvisation on acoustic instruments.
1 May 2019 Westbourne Music Society, Glasgow
22 June 2019, Spire concert Series, Glasgow
11 October 2019, Classic Music Live! Falkirk
28 February 2020, Bute
29 February 2020 Ayr
1 March 2020, Dunoon