ARCO Key Staff

Louise Lansdown - Founder

Louise Lansdown was appointed Head of Strings at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012. Louise is the founder of the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival, launched at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in October 2014, as well as being the founder and President of the British Viola Society. She is on the Council of Management of Lake District Summer Music, a Trustee of the European String Teachers Association, on the board of the Quartet of Peace Trust and directs the Conservatoire based viola course at Pro Corda, Suffolk. Louise, along with her viola students, is the founder of the ARCO Project. She plays on a French Viola c.1750 and 1890 Sartory bow, both previously belonged to the South African violist Cecil Aronowitz.


Lucy Nolan - Viola and Chamber Music Teacher

Dublin-born Lucy enjoys a busy career as a chamber musician and teacher. She moved to England in 2004 and graduated with highest honours from the Royal Northern College of Music. Lucy is a founding member of the Eblana String Trio and frequently guests with a number of Britain's leading orchestras. Lucy is passionate about her teaching career. As well as her role with Arco, she currently holds positions at the RNCM, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and the University of Manchester.


Chris Bishop - Principal CMCM Soweto

Chris is an experienced musician, teacher and ensemble and performance coach. Born in England, he studied at Trinity College of Music, London, and has been Co-Principal Horn with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra since he moved to South Africa in 2007. In 2013 Chris was appointed Principal of the Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music in Soweto.


Daliwonga Tshangela - Cello Teacher

Daliwonga started cello lessons at the age of 12 when he joined the African Youth Ensemble. During that time Daliwonga attended the South Africa National Youth Orchestra with whom he performed at the Aberdeen International Festival in 1994. Daliwonga holds a Masters in Performance from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts. Whilst studying in the U.S, Daliwonga performed at the Colorado Springs Chamber Music Festival, as well as in Canada, Russia, and Tokyo. Daliwonga teaches at CMCM in Johannesburg and has played with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.


Kabelo Monnathebe - Violin Teacher

Kabelo was raised in a musical family with his uncles forming part of the Soweto String Quartet. He started playing the violin in 1999 at ACOSA before his uncles took him to Buskaid where he flourished under the mentorship and guidance of Rosemary Nalden. Rosemary helped him audition at all 4 Colleges in London and he won a scholarship at The Royal Academy of Music. Kabelo now holds a BMus Hons degree and is back in South Africa as a freelance musician, teacher, and a member of the Resonance String Quartet.


Tiisetso Mashisi - Viola Teacher

Tiisetso is a 27 year old violist from Diepkloof, Soweto. He started his musical journey as a young boy by following his Mother and Uncle to classical concerts. In 1999 he joined Buskaid Sowe String Project starting out as an Oboe. In 2000, he was given a viola lesson and “was hooked”. In 2008 he was accepted with a full scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He teaches at Buskaid, MIAGI and the National School of Arts and is the Principle Viola of the Buskaid String Ensemble. He also works as a freelance violist with Johannesburg Orchestras including JPO, JFO, JMI and Mzansi Chamber orchestra.


Olga Maraba - Violin Teacher

Olga has been playing violin for over 20 years, and is still learning to this day. She has an ATCL viola and LTCL.




ARCO UK Teachers

Alistair Rutherford

Born in Liverpool, Alistair is a graduate of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He studies with Louise Lansdown and is currently studying on a Personal Study Programme at RBC. Alistair enjoys performing and teaching and has been involved with Arco since it was founded in 2015. He currently teaches Njabulo and Kgaugelo violin on the project. In his spare time Alistair enjoys running, especially in his running viola costume.


Emily Dore

Born in Yorkshire, Emily is in her 3rd year of study at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Louise Lansdown. She started teaching on the ARCO project in 2016 and currently teaches Malaika and Nontobeko. In her spare time she enjoys playing Folk music and in recent fundraising attempts she has bungee jumped dressed as a cow and organised a charity event at The Loft, Birmingham.


Claudia Dehnke

Claudia Dehnke is in her final year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and is studying with Jan Repko and Oliver Wille. While living in South Africa, she played in the National Youth Orchestra and MIAGI Youth Orchestra. She has received masterclasses from notable performers such as Tamsin Waley Cohen, Jana Kuss and Philippe Graffin. She has been teaching with the ARCO programme for two years.


Toby Holden

Toby studied music (MusB) and viola with Lucy Nolan at the University of Manchester, before joining the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire last year to study with Louise Lansdown. He joined the ARCO project at the start of October - and is delighted to be teaching Sinethemba and Gugu (at 7am every Saturday!). He is actively involved with the British Viola Society, and is Festival Coordinator of the 2017 Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition. When not playing viola, Toby enjoys cooking for friends, hiking, and the occasional beer.


Griff Wadkin

Griff originates from Leicester. He is in his fourth year at the Birmingham Conservatoire and has been teaching on the Arco project since the beginning of 2017. His students are Sifiso and Buhle.




Maria Parfitt

Maria graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with Louise Lansdown in 2017. She has played in many orchestral projects and performed in master classes with Blazej Maliszewski, Robin Ireland, Marco Van Page and Tatjana Masurenko. She started on the violin 14 years ago but switched to viola about 7 years ago when she realized it suited her better and had a much nicer, rich, deep sound. Maria has been on orchestral and solo courses across the world. These courses have pushed Maria and got the best out of her and have contributed to the player she is now.


Elsabe Raath

South African born violist, Elsabé Raath, started playing the viola at the age of 12, where she took lessons at the local music school, Musicon, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She graduated with BMus (2010) and Honours Cum Laude (2012) in viola performance at the Odeion School of Music. She continued her studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire, United Kingdom, under Louise Lansdown, where she graduated with a MMus in Viola Performance (2015) as well as an Advanced Post-Graduate Diploma - Professional Performance - (2017).


Jack Gillett

Jack has completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma under the tutelage of Lucy Nolan and Louise Lansdown and is currently studying with Gary Pomeroy of the Heath Quartet at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Having performed at both the 2014 and 2016 International Viola Congress in Portugal and Italy, Jack has received masterclasses from many distinguished musicians including Simon Rowland-Jones, Thomas Riebl, Robin Ireland and Nobuko Imai. Jack is passionate about travel and has been involved in musical outreach projects including Conservatorio Nacional De Guatemala, Musica En Las Aldeas in Mexico and for the Arco Charity in Soweto, South Africa.


Ursula Miethe Flores

Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Ursula Miethe began her cello studies at the Carabobo Conservatory, in Valencia. She was a member of the Carabobo Youth Orchestra, Carabobo Symphony Orchestra and Central Region of Venezuela’s Youth Orchestra under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance from Louisiana State University. Ursula won first prize in the Mississippi Music Teachers Association competition in the spring of 2008 and the Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music competition in 2016. Last year, she completed her Master’s degree in Performance at Birmingham Conservatoire under the tutelage of Alexander Baillie and Ulrich Heinen, and is currently pursuing a Diploma in Orchestral Performance receiving lessons with Hetty Snell and Eduardo Vasallo.


Matthew Johnstone

Matthew Johnstone has just finished his undergraduate degree at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. From 2018 he has a place as part of Southbank Sinfonia. Matt is heavily involved in the ARCO project at Birmingham Conservatoire both as a teacher and fundraiser and has been to Soweto in South Africa twice to give lessons and classes. He currently teaches two students Kwanda and Inam.


Eileen Smith

Eileen Smith completed her BMus (Hons) course in July 2015 and achieved 2:1, studying Viola with Louise Lansdown. Eileen gained a scholarship to continue her studies at Birmingham Conservatoire studying MMus in music performance, however has decided to take a new direction in life studying to be a person centred counsellor and therapist. She continues to play in string quartets for weddings and functions and is the Coordinator for Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival. Eileen still teaches for ARCO and especially loves teaching Lindokuhle because he is highly intelligent, funny, sweet and very kind natured.


Lieva Starker

South African violinist Lieva Starker is studying towards a Masters in Music Performance at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under Jiafeng Chen, Pavel Fischer and Oliver Wille. She is a keen recital, chamber and orchestral musician and is passionate about teaching. In 2017, she released her debut EP, Weerspieëlings, featuring works for solo violin by contemporary South African composers. Lieva plays on a c.1720 Turin School violin kindly on loan from the Harrison Frank Foundation.


Arco Students

Kamogelo Maraba - Cello

Kamogelo has been playing cello since the age of 7 his two teachers are Wessel Beukes and Daliwonga, and his skype teacher is Peggy Nolan. He’s currently learning grade 8 Trinity cello syllabus and looks up to Daliwonga as he is his role model.



Buhle Nebulane - Cello

Buhle is thirteen years old and has been playing the cello for almost 4 years. The Arco project has helped her in learning more about playing as a quartet. Since the Arco project has begun Buhle has learnt how to play as a quartet. Besides playing the cello she sings at church and at school. Buhle is taught by Dali and Griff.



Kgothatso Molokoane - Cello

Kgotatso Molokoane is 14 years old and has been playing cello for 3 years. She is the youngest of 5 siblings and the only one who plays music. Her other passion is playing football at her school. Kgotatso wants to be a professional football player when she grows up and dreams of playing matches in famous stadia of the world. Kgothatso is taught by Dali and Ursula.


Sifiso Mbatha - Cello

Sfiso Mbatha is 14 years old and has been playing cello for 2 years. He wants to become a charted accountant when he grows up and start his own businesses. He is an avid amateur chess player and spends most of his free time studying chess moves by great masters. Sifiso is taught by Dali and Griff.



Tshegofatso Mfazi - Cello

Tshegofatso Mfazi is 12 years and has been playing cello for 2 years. She is a born performer and loves performing her cello for other kids. She wants to be a soloist when she grows up. She would love to travel and to visit many countries including England in the near future. Tshegofatso is taught by Dali and Ursula.



Keeanu Thlothlalemaje - Viola

Keeanu is 16yrs old. He wants to be a musician when he is older. His favourite subject at school is English. He looks up to his mom as she is always encouraging him to do his best and achieve his goals. He enjoys playing tennis and drawing in his spare time. Keeanu is taught by Tiisetso and Elsabe.



Malaika Hlatshwayo - Viola

Malaika is 11 years old and studies music at CMCM. Viola has inspired Malaika to keep playing music and practice as much as she can. She enjoys exploring music and working hard to get better. Malaika is taught by Tiisetso and Emily.



Kwanda Buthelezi - Viola

Kwanda is 13 years old. Her role model is her viola teacher Tiisesto Mashishi as she too aspires to become a professional violist and inspire others. She wants to become a forensic anthropologist and a professional violist. Her favourite subject is mathematics. Kwanda enjoys reading and drawing. Kwanda is taught by Tiisetso and Matt.



Lindokuhle Buthelezi - Viola

Lindokuhle is 16 years old. His favourite subject is Arts & Culture. He looks up to his uncle as he has inspired him to become an Architect. He enjoys playing computer games in his spare time. Lindo is taught by Tiisetso and Eileen.



Anele Mngomezulu - Viola

Anele is 9 years old. Her favourite subjects in school are English and Social Science. She likes the viola because of the strings, with her favourite string being the A. She feels joyful whenever she plays music. Anele is taught by Tiisetso and Emily.



Inam Manqina - Viola

Inam is 12 years old and has been involved in Arco for nearly two years. She has just taken her grade 1 UNISA exam. She enjoys playing chamber music with her string quartet in CMCM Soweto. She is taught by Tiisetso and Matt.



Lesedi Radebe - Violin

Lesedi is 16 years old. Music is not just a hobby or an interest for Lesedi, but a passion which she loves doing whole-heartedly. Her interests besides music are; reading, sport, baking and doing her school work and homework. Lesedi is taught by Kabelo and Louise.



Mbali Phato - Violin

Mbali is 12 years old lives with her parents and siblings in Soweto. She began learning the violin 4 years ago at CMCM. She was thrilled when she got introduced to Arco, as she gets Skype lessons from a fun teacher and to experience exciting Arco festivals from multiple amazing chamber musicians. Her favourite composer is Bach and her favourite piece is his concerto for two violins in D minor. Mbali is taught by Kabelo and Claudia.


Thoriso Motlhasedi - Violin

Thoriso Motlhasedi is 11 years old and enjoys dancing and playing tennis in her free time. She loves playing in orchestra and singing. She enjoys playing pieces by J.S. Bach and Dvorak. She joined the ARCO program last year and has been learning violin with Kabelo Monnathebe and Claudia Dehnke.



Nontobeko Hlongwane - Violin

Nontebeko is 14 years old. She likes to draw cartoons and make clothes for paper dolls. She also enjoys running. She wants to be a Vet when she is older. She looks up to her Mom and Grandmother as they take good care of her. Nontobeko is taught by Olga and Emily.



Njabulo Nxumalo - Violin

Njabulo is 17 years old and has been learning the Violin for 4 years, 2 of which he has been learning as part of the ARCO Project. Njabulo studies with Olga Maraba in Soweto and Alistair Rutherford via Skype. He is currently working towards his UNISA Grade 5 exam. He enjoys performing and plays with the CMCM Youth String Quartet. Njabulo also loves football and is a huge Liverpool FC fan. He aspires to be a musician in the future. Njabulo is taught by Olga and Alistair.



Kgaugelo Kodisang - Violin

Kgaugelo is 17 years old. She studies tourism and hospitality, when she grows up she wants to be a chef, own a five star hotel and a classy restaurant or work in tourism industry any position. She enjoys orchestral, quartet and individual practice. Kgaugelo is taught by Olga and Alistair.



Kelebogile Nlcetsi - Violin

Kelebogile is 14 years old. I was born on the 6th of June. Kelebogile enjoys talking to his mum about everything he does, going out with his friends and practice. The subjects he loves are English, Afrikaans, Life Orientation, Accounting and Mathematics. Kelebogile wants to be a charted accountant and is taught by Olga and Louise.



Gugu Legwale - Violin

Gugu is 16 years old and has been playing the violin for three years. She has done the UNISA Grade 3 exam. When she grows up she wants to be a violinist, teacher, presenter and an actress. Gugu is taught by Olga and Louise.



Mabatho Xulu - Violin

Mabatho is 16 years old and is in grade 8 at Naledi high school. She loves music and the instrument she plays. She also like playing sports like netball. Her hobby is to play violin. Mabatho is taught by Olga and Lieva.



Mpho Mabaso - Violin

Mpho is 16 years old and has been playing the violin for 3 years. She has completed UNISA grade 2. She loves to play netball and her favourite subject is Maths. She loves music a lot and also loves to take pictures. Mpho is taught by Olga and Lieva.



Sinethemba Ngiba - Violin

Sinethemba is 17 years old. She has been attending CMCM since 2013 and since then her love for music has grown. One day she would love to study Accounting Science at Wits University and also further her music in her free time. She loves taking pictures, cooking, baking and watching movies. Sinethemba is taught by Olga and Lieva.



Andiswa Boii - Violin

Andiswa is 12 years old and started learning the violin 2 years ago. In July she took her Grade 1 UNISA violin exam. She enjoys learning to play lots of different pieces of music, one of her favourites is a calypso called Round Trinidad Bay and she also just learnt how to play Beyoncé. Andiswa is taught by Olga and Jack.