Meet the team

Philip Aird

Philip Aird

Violin

Philip Aird has been a member of Birmingham Royal Ballet since 1991 and has also enjoyed a varied freelance career playing with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, English National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and many others. He was co-director of English Mozart Ensemble (2004-2012) and in 2008 became director of Young Gritletton Chamber Music Summer School. Philip is an experienced teacher, having taught throughout his career from beginners to conservatoire level and is Chief Executive of European String Teachers Association. He is also Joint Managing Director of partplay.co.uk

Fiona Robertson

Fiona Robertson

Violin

Fiona Robertson studied Violin at the Royal Northern College of Music with Richard Deakin going on to a freelance career in the North of England, playing with The Halle, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and the Manchester Camerata.
She moved down to Bedfordshire in 1999 and has been a full time member with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia since 2001. Fiona is also a member of the Laurel String Quartet who regularly gives recitals in the area.
Apart from private teaching, Fiona is a violin tutor at Haberdashers‘ Aske’s School for Girls in Watford.

Mandy Britton

Mandy Britton

Mandy Britton studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music before joining the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and then the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. After two years Mandy moved to Manchester to join the orchestra for Phantom of the Opera.
During her time in Manchester she joined the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and freelanced with Manchester Camerata, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Halle, Opera North, Northern Ballet and Welsh National Opera.
Mandy now lives in Hertfordshire where she enjoys teaching and coaching and plays regularly with the City of London Sinfonia, Royal Ballet Sinfonia and is a member of the Laurel String Quartet.

Christopher Allan

Christopher Allan

Cello

Christopher studied cello with Stefan Popov, Louise Hopkins and Karine Georgian and chamber music with the Takacs and Borodin String Quartets.
After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama he joined the acclaimed contemporary music group "the gogmagogs", performing at the City of London Festival, in Toronto, at the Sidney Festival, in New York, Sao Paolo and across Europe.
He is a member of the Le Page Ensemble, with whom he has made a number of recordings, and has performed as principal cellist with Chroma, the Orchestra of the Swan, Music Theatre Wales (recording Philip Glass’s Chamber Opera "In A Penal Colony" last year) and the Clod Ensemble.
Christopher was solo cellist with the Mike Westbrooke company for a number of years and has collaborated with a diverse array of artists, from choreographer/composer Hofesh Shechter, to mime artist Oscar Valsecchi and composers Django Bates, Stephen Warbeck and Paul Clarke.
Recent projects include performing as solo cellist for the "Music in Beckett" project with the St Lazare players in Paris, playing solo cello for Goldfrapp and Mumford and Son‘s, and with the Clog’s for the Steve Reich Festival at the Barbican Centre.

Christopher was a founder member of the electro acoustic band the Subway Piranhas, with whom he appeared at the Rhythm Sticks Festival at the South Bank, and he recently co-founded the London Cellophonic.

He has given workshops at the Julliard School of Music, and has lead music/improvisation/theatre modules on Hugh Maguire’s Con Corda chamber music course in Ireland.

Steve Bingham

Steve Bingham

Violin

Steve Bingham studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1985 formed the Bingham String Quartet, an ensemble which has become one of the foremost in the UK, with an enviable reputation for both classical and contemporary repertoire. The Quartet has recorded numerous CDs and has worked for radio and television both in the UK and as far afield as Australia. The group has performed with distinguished musicians such as Jack Brymer, Raphael Wallfisch, Michael Collins and David Campbell and their educational activities have included residencies at London’s South Bank Centre, for several UK festivals and at Radley College. Steve has appeared as guest leader with many orchestras including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, English National Ballet and English Sinfonia. He has given solo recitals both in the UK and America and his concerto performances include works by Bach, Vivaldi, Bruch, Prokofiev, Mendelssohn and Sibelius, given in venues as prestigious as St. Johns’ Smith Square and the Royal Albert Hall. In recent years Steve has developed his interest in improvisation and electronics, giving unique solo recitals using electric violin and live-looping. He is much in demand as a recording artist, providing violin tracks for many bands and performers. Steve has also released four solo albums, including a range of music from Bach to Daft Punk! He has also released "Touchable Dreams", a CD of poetry and music, with Jeremy Harmer. Steve’s interests include ornithology, photography and Celtic knotwork.

Josephine Handy

Josephine Handy

Cello

Jo Handy started the cello at the comparatively late age of 15.After gaining the ABRSM Silver medal for Grade Eight she entered the Royal Academy of Music to study with Lilly Philips and Douglas Cummings. Jo studied Chamber music under Sidney Griller, Ruth Harte and Wilfred Parry. Jo went on to represent the Royal Academy in several chamber Ensembles across Europe.

After winning the Bach prize, Jo joined the Chamber group ‘Collage’, specializing in contemporary works, many written for them, and the Baroque repertoire. A well as having a thriving private practice, Jo teaches on the New Forest Cello Academy every summer, as well as at Junior Grittleton. Jo plays frequently in the Ruskin Ensemble and the group ‘Trio del Bosco’.