Who We Are

The Fitzwilliam at Hay Chamber Music Festival, formerly known as the Hay Chamber Music Festival, is now in its fifth year and is centred around the Fitzwilliam String Quartet and friends. For three days, Hay-on-Wye, the town of books, hosts this festival which brings international musicians together to perform in local venues and also to provide outreach events to local schools and groups which endeavour to make classical music more accessible, to increase community involvement, to use music as a conduit for working with the vulnerable and disadvantaged

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet

Lucy Russell
Lucy Russell
Marcus Barcham Stevens
Marcus Barcham Stevens
Alan George
Alan George
Sally Pendlebury
Sally Pendlebury
The Fitzwilliam String Quartet –  Lucy Russell, Marcus Barcham Stevens, Alan George and Sally Pendlebury, is now one of the longest established string quartets in the world: founded in 1968 by four Cambridge undergraduates, the group quickly achieved international recognition as a result of its members’ personal friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich and their subsequent championing of his string quartets following his death.

He entrusted them with the Western premières of the last three, and before long they had become the first ever group to perform and record all fifteen. These discs, which gained many international awards, secured for them a worldwide concert schedule and a long term recording contract with Decca. Whilst the FSQ’s pre-eminence in the interpretation of these works has persisted, the authority gained has also been put at the service of diverse other composers, from the late 17th century to the present day. It remains one of the few prominent quartets to play on historical instrument set-ups, but has simultaneously brought about the addition of over 50 new works to the repertoire.

Its involvement in 2013 with celebrating Britten’s anniversary, and before that the chamber works of Delius and Grainger, are but two recent manifestations of the players’ enthusiasm for using anniversaries to promote less familiar music – following Vaughan Williams in 2008: thus it would appear that England is gradually taking its place alongside Russia and Vienna as a principal area of speciality, while in 2015 they looked further north, to honour the joint 150th birthdays of Glazunov, Sibelius and Carl Nielsen. There will also be new CD recordings issued: of quartets by Schubert on gut strings (Death & the Maiden and the A minor (release date: Feb 2020) – with the C minor and G major to follow in the new year), and a re-visiting (after 43 years!) of the three quartets (Nos.13, 14, 15) which Dmitri Shostakovich himself sent to them towards the end of his life (release date: Oct 2019).

Other performers biographies

Anna Tilbrook – Pianist  is one of Britain’s most exciting pianists, with a considerable reputation in song recitals and chamber music. She made her debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1999 and has since become a regular performer at Europe’s major concert halls and festivals.

Anna has collaborated with many leading singers and instrumentalists including James Gilchrist, Lucy Crowe, Sarah Tynan, Emma Bell, Barbara Hannigan, Willard White, Ashley Riches, Stephan Loges, Chris Maltman, Ian Bostridge, Barbara Bonney, Victoria Simmonds, Christine Rice, Iestyn Davies, Natalie Clein, Nick Daniel, Philip Dukes, Guy Johnston, Louisa Tuck and Jack Liebeck. For Welsh National Opera she has accompanied Angela Gheorghiu, Jose Carreras and Bryn Terfel in televised concerts.

With the distinguished British tenor James Gilchrist she has made acclaimed recordings of 20th-century English song for Linn records, including Vaughan Williams’s On Wenlock Edge (a finalist in the Gramophone Awards 2008), the cycles for tenor and piano by Gerald Finzi, songs by Britten and Leighton and the song cycles of Robert Schumann. For Chandos, James and Anna recorded a disc of Songs by Lennox Berkeley and most recently the Songs and Chamber Music of Vaughan Williams with Philip Dukes.

In 2009 they embarked on a series of recordings for Orchid records of the Schubert Song Cycles and their disc of Die Schone Mullerin received great critical acclaim and was Editor’s Choice in Gramophone, November 2009. Schubert’s Schwanengesang along with Beethoven’s An die Ferne Geliebte was released early in 2011 and their recording of Winterreise was Record of the week in The Independent and was made recording of the month in the 2011 Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine – “It is a profoundly considered reading, considered enough for some of the songs to be as penetrating as in almost any performance I have heard. ” (Michael Tanner).

With String Quartets such as the Carducci, Fitzwilliam, Elias, Coull, Barbirolli and Sacconi, she has performed a wide range of chamber music from Mozart’s Piano Concertos K414 and K415 to the Piano Quartets and Quintets of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Shostakovich, Brahms, Elgar, Bridge and Fauré.

Recent engagements have included her Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam debut with Lucy Crowe, recitals in Carnegie Hall, New York, Wigmore Hall, deSingel Antwerp, the Anima Mundi festival in Pisa, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Musee des Tissus Lyon, Wroclaw Cantans and appearances at the Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Oxford Lieder and West Cork Chamber Music Festivals. Anna regularly broadcasts for Radio 3 and has also curated a number of series of concerts for them including in 2017 marking Hull as City of Culture with James Gilchrist and the Sacconi Quartet and in April 2018 a Big Chamber Day at Saffron Hall entitled ‘Tchaikovsky and his world’ featuring singers Anush Hovhannisyan, Caitlin Hulcup, Alessandro Fisher and Ashley Riches.

Born in Hertfordshire, Anna studied music at York University and at the Royal Academy of Music with Julius Drake, where she was awarded a Fellowship and in 2009 became an Associate. She also won many major international accompaniment prizes including the AESS Bluthner prize and the award for an outstanding woman musician from the ROSL.

Marcia Crayford – Violinist  For 25 years Marcia Crayford was leader of the Nash Ensemble which has a remarkable worldwide reputation for its performances of a wide range of music. Marcia was Co-Artistic Director and leader of the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra. She has since formed The Dragonfly Ensemble,a flexible chamber music ensemble, whose members are all distinguished musicians who have held key posts in many of the country’s top orchestras and chamber groups. 

Sophie Renshaw – Viola  Sophie Renshaw is active as a chamber musician and teacher in both England and Scotland. On graduating from the University of Southern California in 1987 she joined the Canadian Orford String Quartet. During her four years with the quartet they recorded the cycle of quartets by R Murray Schafer and frequently performed some of his semi theatrical mixed ensemble works. This close collaboration with Schafer ignited her lasting interest in performing contemporary music and she co-founded an instrumental-theatre ensemble called Blue Rider and has performed frequently with Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, Champs D’Action and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance company.
In 2000 she took up the Principal viola position in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra until 2008. In Autumn 2017 she actually appeared as a guest member of the Fitzwilliam, during Alan George’s (temporary) indisposition. Currently Sophie enjoys playing across a great variety of musical genres, from Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique to contemporary music with Red Note and chamber music, and she recently embarked on a project to write and arrange for a collaboration between her string trio and northern folk singers Brothers Gillespie. She teaches at RCS Glasgow and plays on a viola made for her in 2013 by Stephan Von Baehr.

Moray Welsh – Cello Moray has had a very distinguished career as soloist and chamber music player, following the unique experience of studying for two years at the Moscow Conservatoire with the great Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. A native of Edinburgh, while still a student at York University the quality of his playing was recognised by Benjamin Britten, with whom he played the composer’s Sonata for cello and piano. Britten followed this by arranging an introduction to Rostropovich, which led to an invitation to study in Moscow. Prior to that he had been a pupil of Eleanor Gregorson, and then of Joan Dickson.

In Britain he has played several times at the Proms, in all the major concert halls and with all the key symphony orchestras. He has toured abroad as a soloist with several British orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, the RPO, and BBC Scottish Symphony, and appeared as a soloist in Scandinavia, Europe, the USSR, the USA, and the Far East.

His musical interests are extremely wide, and his records range from a disc of Baroque Concertos, to several records of contemporary music, including the Hugh Wood Concerto, which was selected as a Record of the Year by the Sunday Times. A disc of Herbert Howells pieces with the LSO was selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine, and his CD of cello music by Rachmaninov with Martin Roscoe was an Amazon record of the month.

Also very active in the chamber music field, Moray Welsh has been a guest with numerous groups, including the Amadeus Quartet and all the major British String Quartets. He has recorded Bach Trio Sonatas with James Galway and Kyung Wha Chung, and has several times performed the complete works of Beethoven for cello and piano. Recent chamber music partners have included Andre Previn, Martin Roscoe, Peter Cropper, Yuri Bashmet, Midori, Leif Ove Andsnes, Jonathan Papp and Marcia Crayford.

Highlights in past seasons have included appearances as a soloist in the Schumann Concerto with the ECO under Sir Yehudi Menuhin, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall in the Britten Cello Symphony, and in November 1991 with The Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra, where his playing of Frank Bridge’s “Oration” was praised for its  ” sense of passionate conviction and wonderful tone. “

He has been associated with a number of contemporary composers who have written works for cello, notably the Concerto by Hugh Wood, and he has premiered concertos by David Blake, Lennox Berkeley, Ronald Stevenson, Daniel Jones, George Nicholson, William Wordsworth and Alun Hoddinott, as well as championing works for cello and orchestra by Hans Gal, Sir Donald Tovey, Alexander Goehr, Joachim Raff, Havergal Brian, Herbert Howells and David Dorward.

For eighteen years Moray Welsh held a teaching post at the Royal Northern College of Music, and followed that in 1992 with an appointment as Principal cellist of the London Symphony Orchestra. With the LSO he has often been heard as soloist in Don Quixote, the Tippett Triple Concerto, Beethoven Triple Concerto, the Elgar Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto, both in this country and abroad, under such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis and Andre Previn. In June 2007 he relinquished this position to diversify and concentrate on chamber music activities.

In addition to teaching privately in London, Moray Welsh also gives Master Classes internationally. Many of his ex-students now hold key positions in London Orchestras.

Richard Wigmore  – writer, lecturer and broadcaster  Richard studied languages at Cambridge and music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A former professional singer, he now works as a freelance writer, broadcaster and lecturer. While his tastes are eclectic, he specialises in the Viennese Classics, Lieder and opera. Richard writes for Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine and other journals, and has given classes in the history and interpretation of Lieder at Birkbeck College, the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall. He appears frequently on Radio 3’s CD Review, is in demand for pre-concert talks at the South Bank, Wigmore Hall, King’s Place etc. and is a regular lecturer on Martin Randall cultural tours.

Maryleen Schiltkamp – Music Painter Maryleen Schiltkamp studied art at the Rietveld Akademie and the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and has exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Curacao, Amsterdam, St.Petersburg and Prague. She also has performed at venues and festivals in London, Guildford, Bergen op Zoom, Amsterdam, Prague and Cesis (Latvia). Maryleen’s artworks on Shostakovich Symphonies have been the subject of a British documentary, The Art of the Symphony, which premiered in 2017 in Paris and Prague.

In recent years, Maryleen has been fascinated by the visual parallels of musical movement and colour relating to sound, through which various collaborations with musicians have developed. These include combining exhibitions with recitals (Musical Paintings); mixed-media projects for video-film (Musical Paintings in Process) and most recently live-painting during recitals; a new performance-art in which Maryleen collaborates with pianist Reinis Zariņš in musicpaintingLIVE  Maryleen currently lives in Amsterdam.

Peter Florence – Hay Festival Director is a British festival director, most notable for founding the Hay Festival with his father and mother, Norman and Rhoda Florence, funding the first festival with winnings from a poker game. Peter Florence was educated at Ipswich School, Jesus College Cambridge and the University of Paris and has an MA in Modern and Medieval Literatures. He holds honorary doctorates from The Open University, Queen Mary University of London, Worcester University and The University of Glamorgan.  Peter is a Fellow of Hereford College of Arts, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the British-American Project and an Honorary Fellow of Bangor University abd of Cardiff University. He was made a “Colombiano de Corazon” by President Alvaro Uribe for his work in Colombia.  As well as the Hay Festival, Florence founded similar festivals in Mantua, Segovia, the Alhambra Palace, Cartegena, Nairobi, Zacatecas, Thiruvananthapuram, Dhaka, Xalapa, Belfast and Paraty. He is the co-editor of the Oxtales and Oxtravels anthologies with Mark Ellingham of Profile Books, in partnership with Oxfam. He is a Friend of Oxfam.  Peter has written for a number of publications including Index on Censorship, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Spectator. A number of his interviews with writers appear in the Hay Festival’s 30th-anniversary book Hay Festival Conversations. He is a trustee of the Bailiie Gifford Prize, a member of the Board of The Deborah Rogers Foundation, he was a governor of Fairfield High School in Peterchurch, Herefordshire and a trustee of Hay Castle Trust, a member of the European Festivals Association and an honorary fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.  He is chairing the jury of the 2019 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.