Louise Lansdown - Founder
Louise Lansdown was appointed Head of Strings at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012, after holding the position of Senior Lecturer in the School of Strings at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester from 2001-2012. Louise is the founder of the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival, launched at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in October 2014 as well as the founder and President of the British Viola Society. She is on the council of the European String Teachers Association, Quartet of Peace Trust, Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, the Albion Quartet and directs the Conservatoire based viola course at Pro Corda, Suffolk.
Louise, along with her viola students is the founder of a major distance learning education project that the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire runs in collaboration with the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto, South Africa called “ARCO”. The project was launched in July 2015 and was nominated for a guardian internationalization award in 2018. She plays on a French Viola c.1750 and 1890 Sartory bow, both previously belonging to the South African violist Cecil Aronowitz. Louise plays mostly chamber music and solo concerts, collaborating with violists and other musicians across the world. She commissions new music for the viola and concocts hair brain schemes to perform music by Paul Hindemith and much unknown viola music, bringing the viola to many unsuspecting and innocent people. She is a member of the South African “Ubuntu Ensemble”.
Louise hails from Cape Town where she studied with the late Prof Jack De Wet and Eric Rycroft at the University of Stellenbosch. She was awarded an ABRSM Overseas Scholarship for postgraduate study at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1998, where she then worked until 2012. Louise was awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester in 2008.
Alistair Rutherford - Research Assistant
Born in Liverpool, Alistair is a graduate of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He is the Manager and Research Assistant to the ARCO Project a role which includes the management of the project from both the U.K. and abroad, co-ordinating research and looking for new avenues for development. Alistair has spent time at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music, developing the project from within and providing support on an individual basis for students and teachers. Alistair has presented on behalf of the project to the Association Européenne des Conservatoires and the Global Music Education League, whilst collaborating for joint publication in the British Journal of Music Education between RBC and BCU Faculty of Education. Alistair enjoys performing and teaching and has been involved with Arco since it was founded in 2015. He currently teaches Akhona and Mpilwentle violin on the project via ZOOM.
In his spare time Alistair enjoys running, especially in his Running Viola costume and has raised awareness and thousands of pounds for ARCO through his prolific fundraising attempts in which he has set two Guinness World Records.
Peggy Nolan - Cello and Chamber Music teacher
As the cellist of the Eblana String Trio, Peggy has performed at venues including the Wigmore Hall, St Johns Smith Square and Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. In 2015 the trio were selected as Park Lane Young Artists and are currently City Music Foundation Artists. They have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and are record their debut CD of British string trios in 2019.
Peggy has performed as a guest with many chamber groups including the Pleyel Ensemble, Robinson Panoramic Quartet, and contemporary music groups Psappha, Vonnegut Collective and the Crash Ensemble. Peggy is a Cello tutor at the RBC, Yorkshire Young Musicians and ProCorda North, and Course Director of Concorda Chamber Music in Ireland.
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.
Sara Hallatt – Director, MICM
Sara started her career in marketing after completing her Bachelor in Dramatic Arts at WITS. She went on to produce large scale events including the Opening & Closing Ceremonies of the Confederations Cup in 2009 and then World Cup 2010. In 2011 Sara became Director of one of SA’s foremost visual arts NGOs, namely the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios. In 2015 she completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and was awarded the Mandela Washington Fellowship to Northwestern University. She sits on a number of non-profit boards and competition judging panels. She is currently the Director of the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music in Soweto.
Chris Bishop - Director of Music, MICM
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 Monnathebe is a Soweto born violinist who was raised in a musical family with his uncles forming part of the Soweto String Quartet. He started playing at the age of 10 through the Buskaid String Project under the mentorship of Rosemary Nalden. It was through Buskaid that Kabelo had the opportunity to study at Royal Academy of Music where he obtained his Bmus(hons) degree in 2013.
Kabelo is now working as a freelance violinist and a violin tutor in and around Johannesburg, often playing for The Johannesburg Philharmonic orchestra and also the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. Kabelo is also part of some chamber groups with some of South Africa’s most talented String players, namely, Resonance String Quartet and Kamva Quartet and Urban Strings.
Tiisetso Mashisi - Viola Teacher
Tiisetso started his musical journey as a young boy by following his Mother and Uncle to classical concerts. In 1999 he joined Buskaid Soweto 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 Principal 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
She started playing the violin at age 12 as part of the African Youth Ensemble in Diepkloof Soweto under the guidance of Kulwane Mantu. At 20 she began playing professionally and picked up the viola two years later.
In 2014 she obtained a violin performance Diploma LTCL through Trinity London College and in 2015 obtained a viola performance diploma ATCL. She is currently preparing for the violin performance diploma FTCL.
Olga has played with a number of South African orchestras, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO), the Johannesburg Music Initiative (JMI) Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic orchestra (KZNPO) and Johannesburg Festival Orchestra (JFO).
South African-born Jeffrey Armstrong studies with Elisabeth Kufferath at HMTMH. He has appeared as a soloist with all major South African orchestras, and has received masterclasses from Leonidas Kavakos, Baiba Skride and Olivier Charlier among others. He has also received coaching from musicians including Jian Wang, Eberhard Feltz, Anthony Spiri and Jonathan Kelly. Jeffrey has a great passion for chamber music, and performed in Wigmore Hall with his quartet in 2017. He has played as an ad hoc for the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen as well as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and was an artist at the Wye Valley Music Festival 2019.
Chinese born violist Yue Yu currently studies with Thomas Riebl at Mozarteum University Salzburg. As a soloist, she has performed widely internationally and was a major-prize winner at the 2017 Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition. Her stage appearances have included in London Wigmore Hall, Birmingham Town Hall, Bradshaw Hall at RBC, Rotterdam, and Cremona. Most recently, she has been selected as one of the 40 violists from the world to compete in the live rounds at the 2019 Lionel Tertis Viola Competition.
Irish Double Bassist Aisling Reilly is a recent graduate of the Orchestral Postgraduate course at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She has performed professionally with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the Oxford Philharmonic.
Aisling has also been fortunate enough to have played as a soloist performing Eduard Tubin’s Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra in the Final Year Concerto Showcase Concert at RBC, and in a fundraising concert for the ARCO String Teaching Project with the Co-Orch orchestra in Dublin.
Cellist Harry Broom is currently studying at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag, Netherlands with Larissa Groeneveld. Previously Harry studied his Bachelors at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, UK with Ulrich Heinen. Born in Birmingham, Harry started playing the cello at the age of 7 and learnt with Emma Capp and Mark Broadhead before receiving a scholarship to study his Bachelors at RBC.
Harry enjoys orchestral playing and is involved with numerous Orchestras. Orchestras include the CBSO Youth Orchestra, Bournville String Orchestra, Ripieno Players, BPO, Ealing Symphony Orchestra, Welsh Musical Theatre Orchestra and Ex Cathedra. Furthermore, Harry has currently participated in the CBSO Scheme for 2018/2019 and is also a regular chamber musician. Harry teaches the wonderful Tshepiso!
Nick Fidler, born in Pretoria, South Africa, is a viola player. He went to school in Pretoria and studied Law and Music at Rhodes University, finishing an Honours in performance music Cum Laude in 2013. As a performer, Nick has played around South Africa with the Anika trio and the Muñoz quartet. He has played as a soloist with the Nelson Mandela University Orchestra, the Eastern Cape Philharmonic, and the South African National Youth Orchestra.
Nick is passionate about chamber music and viola performance but this is often overshadowed by his passion for, and commitment to instrumental music education, particularly as a means to make a positive impact. Nick has taught at several prestigious schools in the Eastern Cape, most recently and notably, at Alexander Road High School, where he was the head of strings. He has also taught through Upliftment programmers such as the Keiskamma Music Academy, and the Eastern Cape Upliftment organization. He is a fervent advocate for the positive impact music tuition can make in young people’s lives, and as such is committed to the Arco Project. Nick has just graduated from study at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, completing his masters study with Dr Louise Lansdown.
Maria was born in Porto, Portugal in 1994. She accomplished her Bachelor Degree in 2015 at Escola de Música e Artes do Espetáculo in Portugal. Currently, Maria is doing her Postgraduate Masters in Music at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, studying with the head of strings, Dr. Louise Lansdown.
Alongside her studies, Maria has worked in several academies and projects as a violin and viola teacher, and also as a freelance musician performing at several venues including The Royal Concertgebouw, The Konzerthaus Berlin, The Elbphilarmonie, Yehudi Menuhin Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall. Maria is a founding member of the Impetus Trio.
Originally from Maesteg, South Wales, Benjamin graduated from Royal Holloway University of London in 2018 after receiving a BA (Hons) in Mathematics & Music, studying with violinists Jeremy Isaac and Anna Cashell. He is currently studying for his MMus in Instrumental Performance in the Violin at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under the tutelage of Zoë Beyers. A keen orchestral and chamber player, Benjamin has performed with numerous ensembles including the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, performing in prestigious concert venues across England and Wales. Benjamin currently teaches Mabatho violin on the project and plays on a 2013 Feng Jiang violin. In his spare time, he enjoys socialising with friends and is a keen and avid sports fan.
Born in Yorkshire, Emily is in her fourth year of study at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Robin Ireland. She started teaching on the ARCO project in 2016. 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 is currently studying towards a Master of Arts degree at the Royal Academy of Music under the tutelage of Prof. Tomotadah Soh. She began her involvement in the ARCO project during her Undergraduate degree at RBC, teaching Thoriso and Mbali. Four years later, is still highly involved in many of the festivals and exchanges, as well as individual Zoom teaching.
Toby studied viola with Dr. Louise Lansdown at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (MMus) and with Lucy Nolan at the University of Manchester (MusB), graduating from both institutions with highest honours.
Whilst at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, he performed as principal violist of the Symphony and Repertoire Orchestras, and with contemporary ensemble BCMG NEXT. At Manchester, he was awarded the final-year Procter-Gregg Recital Prize and the Hargreaves Dissertation Award.
As part of ARCO, Toby was selected in summer 2019 to teach at the ARCO Festival in Soweto. He is delighted to currently be teaching Nontobeko and Thoriso on Saturdays.
Griff, born in Leicester has been teaching on the ARCO Project since 2017. Griff is a passionate teacher and has vast experience at teaching at a range of levels and ages. He is studying for his MMus at RBC and has been teaching on the Arco project since the beginning of 2017. He teaches Sifiso and Buhle.
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. She has completed her Diploma in Orchestral Performance receiving lessons with Hetty Snell and Eduardo Vasallo. In 2016 she completed her Master’s degree in Performance at RBC under the tutelage of Alexander Baillie and Ulrich Heinen,
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.
Tshepiso Thusi - Cello
Tshepiso, 12, learns cello with Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Harry Broom on ZOOM. She loves ARCO because it has inspired her throughout her year of study and music enables her to keep calm, whilst being uplifted by the beauty of the sound. She was inspired by her mum who encouraged her to enjoy music and attend MICM. Listen to Tshepiso talking about ARCO here!
Fezeka Manqina - Cello
Fezeka, 12, learns cello with Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Ursula Flores on ZOOM. She loves signing and fell in love with the cello with it’s unique sound. She has been playing for a year and she likes ARCO as it occupies her time in a productive way, something which will hopefully make a difference to her life. She feels she has achieved highly being selected for the ARCO programme and she aspires to be a cellist and family lawyer when she finishes school studies. Listen to Fezeka talking about ARCO here!
Kamogelo Maraba - Cello
Kamogelo, 18, learns cello with Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Peggy Nolan on ZOOM. He started playing cello at the age of 8 in 2009 and has recently passed his Trinity Grade 8 cello exam. As an orchestral musician he is the assistant principal cellist of The Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, guest principal of the Ancored Sound Orchestra and has played with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. As a soloist he has played at many prestigious and high class events and he had his debut at the Wakkerstroom Music Festival in March. Kamogelo has played concerti with the Rand Symphony Orchestra and East Rand Youth Orchestra concerto festival. Listen to Kamogelo talking about ARCO here!
Buhle Nebulane - Cello
Buhle, 15, is taught by Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Griffith Wadkin on ZOOM. She attends the Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation and loves music simply because it's a unique way to tell your story - it's not only a way for story telling but a way of communication as well. Buhle aspires to be a professional cellist - to study music as well as going to a military school. Her inspiration is her MICM Cello teacher Daliwonga. Listen to Buhle talking about ARCO here!
Sifiso Mbatha - Cello
Sifiso, 16, learns cello with Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Griffith Wadkin on ZOOM. He feels he has a fantastic support network of teachers and ARCO has him there are many different styles of music from all across the world. He believes if you remain dedicated and passionate then you can achieve great success. Listen to Sifiso talking about ARCO here!
Tshegofatso Mfazi - Cello
Tshegofatso, 14, learns cello with Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Ursula Flores on ZOOM. She attends the National School of the Arts and started playing the cello in 2016. She enjoys the pressure of ARCO, and that it encourages all of the students to improve in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Every time she plays a piece she feels a real connection and that it is part of her, and there is a real connection between body and instrument. She would like to be a professional musician and achieve a PhD in mathematics. Listen to Tshegofatso talking about ARCO here!
Tshiamo Ngozo - Viola
Tshiamo, 14, learns viola with Tiisetso Mashishi at MICM and Maria Antunes on ZOOM . She has been playing the viola for one and a half years. The things she enjoys most about her music education is the combination of pieces, scales and arpeggios. She aspires to study music at university. Her hobbies are cooking and baking, and shopping with her friends.
Kwanda Buthelezi - Viola
Kwanda, 15, learns viola with Tiisetso Mashishi at MICM and Maria Antunes on ZOOM. She attends school at the National School of the Arts has been playing the viola for almost four years – since the founding of the project. Throughout her time spent studying on the ARCO Project she has learned to view and appreciate music differently. The ARCO Project has opened many doors for Kwanda and provided opportunities such as exchange to the RBC in 2017. She is excited to learn all there is to learn about music and the viola through ARCO. Listen to Kwanda talking about ARCO here!
Lindokuhle Buthelezi - Viola
Lindokuhle, 18, learns viola with Tiisetso Mashishi at MICM and Nicholas Fidler on ZOOM. He attends school at the National School of the Arts has been playing the viola for almost four years – since the founding of the project. Over the past four years Lindokuhle has grown fond of classical music, especially orchestral music. This is his motivation to building a career through music. The viola has brought him joy and a lot of great memories to tell his family in the future, especially how he fell in love with the music. Lindokuhle represented the ARCO Project at the National Youth String Orchestra of Great Britain Easter 2019 course. Listen to Lindokuhle talking about ARCO here
Inam Manqina - Viola
Inam, 14, learns viola with Tiisetso Mashishi at MICM and Nicholas Fidler on ZOOM. She loves the viola because it gives her a sense of happiness and she loves music in general including many different genres. ARCO has enabled her to increase her instrumental ability and technique. Listen to Inam talking about ARCO here!
Lesedi Radebe - Violin
Lesedi, 17, learns violin with Kabelo Monnathebe at MICM and Louise Lansdown on ZOOM. She attends West Ridge High School. She loves music because it has nothing but positive influences in her life and it helps her communicate in one language. She believes msuicians have the ability to disagree to agree. She looks up to her peers in the ARCO Project as they inspire her to do more. She aspires to study music after matriculation and learn more. Listen to Lesedi talking about ARCO here!
Khanyisa Tshangela - Violin
Khanyisa, 13, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Louise Lansdown on ZOOM. She loves the violin as it’s small and it’s sounds beautiful. She loves ARCO as it inspires her to practice and encourages her to be a better musician. Listen to Khanyisa talking about ARCO here!
Amahle Lesele - Violin
Amahle, 12, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Jeffrey Armstrong on ZOOM. Amahle also began playing in 2016 and loves ARCO because it has enabled her to see new places in South Africa and meet new people. She aspires to be a pilot. Listen to Amahle talking about ARCO here!
Akhona Lesele - Violin
Akhona, 12, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Alistair Rutherford on ZOOM. Akhona began playing in 2016 and loves ARCO because it enables her to learn even more about violin and music. She aspires in the future to travel overseas and motivate and inspire young people to good in the world. Listen to Akhona talking about ARCO here!
Mpilwentle Lesele - Violin
Mpilwentle, 11, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Alistair Rutherford on ZOOM. She loves the freedom of music, especially when there are jazzy items on the repertoire for ARCO. At ARCO she learns new things about the violin and meets new people. She aspires to becoming a violin teacher when she grows up, teaching students how to play the violin. Listen to Mpilwentle talking about ARCO here!
Mbali Phato - Violin
Mbali, 14, learns violin with Kabelo Monnathebe at MICM and Claudia Dehnke on ZOOM. She enjoys music as she considers herself a shy and quiet person but music gives her the ability to express herself in many different characters. ARCO has opened many doors for Mbali including attending the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival in 2017, in the very first ARCO exchange. Listen to Mbali talking about ARCO here!
Thoriso Motlhasedi - Violin
Thoriso, 14, learns violin with Kabelo Monnathebe at MICM and Toby Holden on ZOOM. When playing music she loves the ability to express her emotions and the characters of the different pieces she is playing. She currently attends the National School of the Arts and really enjoys her time spent learning on the ARCO Project. Listen to Tshegofatso talking about ARCO here!
Nontobeko Hlongwane - Violin
Nontobeko, 16, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Toby Holden on ZOOM. She has been playing the violin for six years and music has had a positive impact on her life and feels that musicians are able to communicate in one language, no matter where they are from. Being a part of the ARCO Project has enabled Nontobeko to learn different techniques about music. Listen to Nontobeko talking about ARCO here!
Njabulo Nxumalo - Double Bass
Njabulo, 19, learns Double Bass with Daliwonga Tshangela at MICM and Aisling Reilly on ZOOM. He lives in Soweto and has been playing music for 8 years. He started his musical career as a violinist and in 2018 switched to the Double Bass when the consignment of instruments arrived in Soweto from the U.K. Some highlights for Njabulo from the ARCO Project include visiting RBC during the inaugural ARCO exchange, upon which he had lessons with Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Oliver Wille and Jonathan Martindale. His idols are Anthony Alcock (Principal Double Bass – CBSO) and Thomas Martin (International Chair in Double Bass – RBC). Njabulo aspires to be a professional musician. Listen to Njabulo talking about ARCO here!
Mabatho Xulu - Violin
Mabatho, 18, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Benjamin Isaac on ZOOM. She loves going to MICM as nobody is ever left out and that music truly lets her be free. Mabatho enjoys her zoom lessons and feels the ARCO Project has boosted her ability to learn. Listen to Mabatho talking about ARCO here!
Mpho Mabaso - Violin
Mpho, 18, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Lieva Starker on ZOOM. She attends Basa Protea Glen Combined School. Mpho loves playing music and loves the sound of the violin. Mpho has been involved with the ARCO Project since it was founded in 2015 and wants to continue to play music throughout her life. Listen to Mpho talking about ARCO here!
Andiswa Boii - Violin
Andiswa, 14, learns violin with Olga Maraba at MICM and Lucy Nolan on ZOOM. She attends school at the National School for the Arts and has been playing the violin for four years. She loves music as it is the source of all healing and makes her feel at ease. What she enjoys about ARCO is that it enables her to learn different styles of playing, both genres and periods as well as orchestrally and in chamber ensembles. Listen to Andiswa talking about ARCO here!