Meet the team:
Jessica Hall - Charity Founder and Session Leader
Jessica Hall gained her Bachelor's in Music with Honours from the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester) in 2012. Jessica is an established violinist, passionate outreach musician, and a founding member of violin duet ‘Symmetry Duo’. Jessica is currently musician-in-residence alongside 'Symmetry Duo' partner Anna Brigham, at a Pupil Referral Unit in St Helens and has most recently started training for a residency in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
As a performer Jessica has worked with several of the UK’s top orchestras including; the Halle Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Opera North, Welsh National Opera and Manchester Camerata.
Jessica was inspired to start the 'Music For Kenya' Charity after visiting Kenya in March 2015 with the amazing Gathimba Edwards Foundation. The trip showed 15 volunteers the real local Kenya, an experience that was both heart breaking and tremendously uplifting in equal measure. While there Jessica had the pleasure of playing her violin in several unique situations; at some local primary schools, for the wonderful family at the 'Pavilion Village' orphanage, on the start line of the Rift Valley Marathon, and for the 33rd birthday of celebrated marathon runner Wilson Kipsang. The entire experience really struck a chord with Jessica, who became determined to find a way to use music to enhance the lives of the wonderful people of Kenya. Jessica believes in the power of live music because she has witnessed it first hand, a privilege that makes her determined to spread its use as a communication, educational and fantastically enjoyable learning tool as far and wide as possible.
Anna Brigham - Violin/Viola
Anna Brigham is a violinist from Cornwall, and a founding member of violin duet 'Symmetry Duo' with Jess Hall. They formed this exciting duet after meeting at the Royal Northern College of Music, where Anna gained her Masters in Music with distinction in 2013. Together they tour the north of England's Special Educational Needs schools, Alzheimer's clinics, and Pupil Referral Units (education centres for children who have been excluded from mainstream schools) giving interactive workshops to bring music to people who don't have access to it, yet those who can benefit from it the most. She has been involved in many fantastic projects in the past, such as leading outreach tours for the award winning group 'Impulse', helping to create an app to engage children with the instruments of the orchestra, and a project called Polar Explore, where outtake footage from the BBC's Frozen Planet is married with live music, to raise awareness about climate change.
Anna is part of several chamber groups, and loves giving recitals throughout the country, particularly with the Florian Quartet. She has played with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, the BBC Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Opera North. She loves sharing music with other people and is very excited about the prospect of doing this in Kenya!
Kirstin Hall - Clarinetist
Kirstin Hall comes from a very musical family. She began learning the clarinet at the age of seven and was initially taught by her mother. Three years later she successfully auditioned for a place at the prestigious Aberdeen City Music School which she then attended until she was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal Northern College of Music at seventeen.
Kirstin is a keen orchestral player having performed in several projects including the RNCM Symphony Orchestra in the Bridgewater Hall and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland at the BBC Proms alongside the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Also a passionate chamber musician, Kirstin is a member of Kalliope Clarinets – A Manchester based clarinet quartet.
In 2015 Kirstin volunteered with the Halle Wider Opportunities Scheme - a project situated across Manchester which gives thousands of primary school children the chance to learn an instrument. There she had the chance to shadow and work with top musicians and teachers. In the future Kirstin aspires to play with a professional orchestra and plans to continue to work in inspiring and educating younger generations.
Oskar McCarthy - French Horn and Singing Specialist
Oskar McCarthy trained originally as a horn player, studying at the Junior Guildhall of Music and Drama and playing in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Upon taking up a choral scholarship to study English and Modern Languages (French and Portuguese) at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, his focus shifted towards the theatre. Since graduating, his interests have mainly converged on opera, whilst he has also become actively-involved in actor-musician projects, both as a horn player and singer.
As an actor-musician, Oskar has performed in Secret Cinema's immersive productions of The Shawshank Redemption and Brazil, and alongside aerial theatre artists Ockham's Razor as part of the 2013 London International Mime Festival. Other recent projects include After Party, a new play with music by Katharine Armitage, commissioned for Re:Sound Music Theatre by the Oxford Lieder Festival 2014 as part of The Schubert Project. After Party won the 2015 Buxton Fringe award for New Writing. Oskar has just finished working on Dance Umbrella and The Egg Theatre's 16 Singers, a devised music theatre piece for 0-18 month year olds, incorporating dance, puppetry and song, which toured to venues in London, Manchester and Durham (as part of the TakeOff Festival). He also volunteered in this year's You Me Bum Bum Train.
Since 2013 Oskar has been training with and devising innovative cross-genre work as a core company member of ERRATICA .The company's first show Triptych, performed in spring 2014 at the Print Room Notting Hill and the Spitalfields Music Festival, received warm praise from The Observer, The Times and Time Out, among many others. Other recent projects include a staged version of David Lang’s the little match girl passion, performed at Shapes in Hackney Wick, and La Celestina, a new site-specific video opera, which premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in March 2015. Oskar's ongoing interest in broadening his skillset as a performer has led him to taking masterclasses in clowning at The Comedy School, and attending Jonathan Kay's Nomadic Academy for Fools.
Oskar has participated in outreach projects internationally. In 2012 he toured a production of Macbeth to Japan, and led workshops on Shakespearean theatre with secondary school and university students. He shortly thereafter qualified as an EFL teacher, and has since taught children aged 5-18, from a wide range of nationalities, backgrounds and abilities. Since 2014 he has presented the annual Montagu Square Carol Concert, raising funds in aid of the Portman Early Childhood Centre. He has performed alongside the Hackney Borough Youth Orchestra in a co-venture with the Docklands Sinfonia designed to foster classical music among children in East London, and participated in the Cambridge University Music Department’s outreach projects with local schools, presenting and performing in family concerts.
Caroline Pether – Violin
Caroline began her violin studies at the age of 5, and later went on to study at both Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music with Professor Wen Zhou Li. She holds an International Artist Diploma in Chamber Music as a member of the Zelkova Quartet. Caroline has received a Silver Medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians and was also a recipient of a Postgraduate Performance Award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund. Caroline was an RNCM Concerto Competition winner and as a result performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto in Bridgewater Hall with Yan Pascal Tortelier. She has also recently performed the Brahms Double Concerto with her brother Jonathan, also a member of the Zelkova Quartet, and the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra. Caroline has been privileged to play in masterclasses for many prestigious musicians including James Ehnes, Julian Rachlin, Renaud Capucon and Ivry Gitlis. Competition successes include reaching the string semi-finals of BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2008 and in the same year, winning the Chandos Young Musician of the Year competition. During her time at the RNCM she won the Norman George Violin Scholarship and was a finalist in the RNCM’s Gold Medal Weekend. Other prestigious performances include a solo recital at the Bridgewater Hall and both the Walton and the Sibelius Violin Concertos with the Chandos Symphony Orchestra.
As an avid chamber musician Caroline is passionate about her involvement with the Zelkova Quartet, winners of the Royal Overseas League Elias Fawcett Award for Outstanding Chamber Ensemble. They have recently performed at venues including St. Martin in the Fields and St. John’s Smith Square and have been heard a number of times on BBC Radio 3.
Caroline holds the Co-Leader position at Manchester Camerata and also plays in guest numbered positions with Sinfonia Cymru, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Northern Chamber Orchestra as a freelance musician.
Caroline has a particular fondness for the Australian comedy violin duo TwoSetViolin, and playing the violin at her church on Sundays.
Joy Becker - Violin
Joy begged her mum to learn the violin after watching Tasmin Little in concert at the age of 5. She attended Chetham’s School of Music for three years, after which she joined the Junior Royal Nothern College of Music under the tutelage of Leland Chen, with whom she continued to learn throughout her degree at the RNCM. At the age of 14 Joy received Gold in Future Talent’s ‘Future Champions’ competition - founded by Katharine, Duchess of Kent - as a result of which she has performed in a number of wonderful venues and festivals including Hovingham Hall, the House of Lords and the Buckingham Palace, as well as an appearance with Katharine on the BBC News as a representative of Future Talent. A keen orchestral musician, Joy led the National Children’s Orchestra, the Halle Youth Orchestra and is a former member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. She graduated with first class honours from the RNCM in 2015, and during her time there enjoyed a leading a number of RNCM ensembles, highlights including the UK premiere of Penderecki's Seventh Symphony in the Bridgewater Hall conducted by the composer, and a performance of the Pulcinella Suite under Christian Curnyn. Masterclasses include musicians such as Isabelle Van Heulen, Peter Manning and James Ehnes. She is now pursuing her career as a violinist and is looking forward to a future doing what she loves. Joy also performs as a Manchester-based singer/songwriter at venues and festivals around the UK, and self-released her debut album 'The Unspoken Word' in February 2015. She is passionate about outreach - she currently works for Opera North's 'In Harmony' project delivering music lessons to schools across Leeds – and is delighted to be part of the 'Music for Kenya' team.
Alistair Gibson – Trombone and Conducting Specialist
Alistair is originally from West Sussex, where he started Trombone at the age of Seven. During his teenage years he attended the Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama before gaining a place at the world renowned Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), which he graduated from in 2015. During his time at the RNCM Alistair spent one year studying Trombone at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany under Christopher Houlding.
Alongside Trombone, Alistair has conducted a variety of different groups, most notably the Harrogate Youth wind bands and Jazz Orchestra, Abney Orchestra, Keele University Brass Band and the West Sussex County Youth Orchestra.
As a performer, Alistair has played both Bass and Tenor Trombone with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra on various occasions, the highlight of which included taking part in the Montepulciano Cantiere arts festival. Alistair has also performed with Various other RNCM ensembles, Roberts Bakery band, National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain and National Youth Music Theatre.
Jennifer Dyson – Flute
Jennifer studied at the Royal Northern College of Music where she studied with Richard Davis (Principle flute, BBC Philharmonic) and Joanne Boddington (Hallé), where she received awards such as the Pat Barney Flute Prize, Trevor Wye Prize for Chamber Music, the June Emerson Wind Music Launchpad Prize and finalist in the Cross-School Chamber Prize. She was also a finalist in the prestigious RNCM Gold Medal Soloist Competition in 2013, selected externally by the chairman of EMI records. Prior to her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, Jennifer studied music at the University of Manchester graduating in the 2011 where she majored in Performance, Composition and Shostakovich studies. As a soloist, Jennifer has given recitals across the UK to great critical acclaim. She has performed various concertos with symphony, chamber and wind orchestra in the UK and abroad, including Ibert’s Flute Concerto in 2015, Malcolm Arnold’s 2nd flute concerto in the Malcolm Arnold Festival 2013 and Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with the All Saints Chamber Orchestra (2014).
Jennifer is making a name for herself in the contemporary music circuits, playing regularly with a number of new music series and ensembles in festivals such as the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2014) and the North West Music Festival. As flautist in the ACM Ensemble and performing for the ddmmyy music series, Jennifer is passionate about working alongside composers, commissioning works and taking an active role in the process. In 2015 she premiered Aaron Parker’s Now. No More. as part of the ddmmyy music series. The first movement of the work was originally commission for her performance in the Royal Northern College of Music’s Gold Medal Soloist Competition back in June 2013. As an orchestral player, Jennifer is an extra for the Welsh National Opera and the British Sinfonietta. She has played principal flute with established orchestras such as the Manchester Consort, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra and works as a session musician in the Kaleidoscope Orchestra performing as principal flute, recording for albums for artists such as Flux Pavillion. Outreach and education is central to Jennifer’s work as a musician. Through working for the charity Music in Hospitals, Jennifer has visited many hospitals, hospices, schools for those with learning difficulties and has even toured the North East hospitals for the charity. Jennifer also works for the organisation Live Music Now as part of the Vista Trio, giving workshops and performances to all areas of the community, bringing music to those who rarely are exposed to live music to enable them to participate and feel the joy of music making. Jennifer regularly volunteers to perform for musical fundraising for charity both in the North West and Midlands.
Delia Stevens – Percussion
Delia Stevens was a scholarship percussionist at the RNCM, graduating with a Bachelor of Music with a First Class degree. She previously studied at the Junior RNCM from 2005-2010, winning the Concerto Competition and the John Wray prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Junior School.
As a soloist, highlights include reaching the televised Category Finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition in 2008 and 2010, winning the 2012 RNCM Concerto Competition and performing live on BBC Radio 3 in the 2013 BBC Proms, giving the world premiere of Edward Cowie’s ‘Blue Blues for Marimba’. She was also recently invited to perform at the Krakow Last Night of the Proms in Poland with the professional Beethoven Academy Orchestra, performing Frozen in Time. Delia gave her debut recital as a soloist at the Wigmore Hall in March 2015.
Delia is an experienced orchestral percussionist and is an Extra with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. She was also a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, performing annually in the televised BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. In 2013 she participated in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra Academy, London Sinfonietta Academy and the Hallé Professional Experience Scheme. In 2015 she was accepted into the Britten Pears Orchestra.
Delia is the co-founder of the Aurora Percussion Duo, winning the 2012 Royal Over-Seas League and Park Lane Group Competitions, subsequently being invited to perform in the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall. In 2011/12 the duo undertook 2 concert tours of China, and were invited back to perform a concerto with Xi’an Symphony Orchestra. Performance highlights include the Edinburgh Festival, Festival No. 6, BBC Radio 3 Late Junction and the Bridgewater Hall.
Other musical ventures include Dark Inventions and the ACM-Ensemble - contemporary music groups of which Delia is Principal Percussion. She has also played with the Candela Salsa Band, ‘Vulgar Display’ – a contemporary-classical-metal crossover project - and the ‘Bill Brookman Performing Arts Group’, a combination of circus, dance, theatre and folk music. Recently recording and performing with indie-band Daughter and Cathal Mo Chroi (Chas Smash) from ‘Madness’, she is also a percussionist in the Joe Duddell Ensemble. She appeared in the RNCM 2015 Chamber Music Festival performing alongside the Pavel Haas String Quartet.