Alison Mills – Leader
Alison began studying the violin at the age of eight with Paul Clarke, and during her high school years played with the Norwich Students’ Orchestra, the Norfolk Youth Orchestra and was leader of the City of Norwich School Orchestra. She then went on to study Music and Maths at Royal Holloway College, during which time she lead the band for a production of West Side Story and played with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra. Upon returning to Norfolk, Alison became leader of St. Gregory’s Orchestra, a position she held for 14 years. She has also played for a number of choral societies and choirs including the Great Yarmouth Choral Society, where she led the orchestra for two years, Claxton Opera, and South Norfolk Operatic Society. In 2012 she started to learn to play the cello, which was a longstanding ambition of hers. Current positions include:
Norwich Philharmonic – Violin
Norwich Pops Orchestra – Violin
Norwich Mozart Orchestra – Violin
The Kingfisher Sinfonietta – Violin
East Norfolk Operatic Society – Leader for the annual Gilbert & Sullivan show
Wymondham Symphony Orchestra – Cello
Ben Payne – 1st Violin
Ben started playing the violin at 7 years of age, learning with Paul Clarke while studying for his A-Levels before gaining a place at The Royal Academy of Music under Carmel Kaine. Whilst there he was ‘Very Highly Commended’ in the Academy’s most prestigious competition and was a finalist in his first year in the ‘Croft Early Music’ prize. On leaving the Academy he toured the UK with Ballet Rambert and London Musici, and made several recordings in a string quartet under the ‘Oxford Classics’ label. After four years of freelance work in London, Ben returned to Norwich where he plays in the following ensembles:
Norwich Philharmonic – Violin
Academy of St. Thomas – Violin
The Mozart Orchestra – Violin
Norwich Pops Orchestra – Violin
The Cavick String Quartet – Violin
Richpickins – Vocals, Piano & Violin
Claire Moore – 2nd Violin
Claire began learning violin at the age of 8 in Great Yarmouth. She led the East Norfolk school orchestras for a number of years and was always involved in as many amateur shows and concerts as she could fit in, including a production of The Sound of Music with the Lowestoft players, pantomimes and shows with the Gorleston Theatre company and the local Gilbert & Sullivan society. Claire also played in the Norfolk Youth Orchestra, led a successful string quartet through high school and college and also learnt piano and recorders. Claire now plays with:
The Sunrise Orchestra – Leader
The Anglia Consort
The Sillars Orchestra
The Shifting Sands Strings Quartet
Claire was also in the orchestra pit for local productions of The Wizard of Oz and Oliver last year; this year it’s Oklahoma and Pinocchio.
Joe Capp – 2nd Violin
Jeremy Ard – Cello
Having his first lesson at the age of five, Jeremy studied with Joan Dickson at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. He began his professional career in 1968 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and continued as a freelance ‘cellist in London and the Home Counties with orchestras such as the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic and London Festival Ballet. Jeremy has a keen interest in Early Music playing Viola da Gamba with the Elizabethan Consort of Viols and directing the Farnaby Consort of Voices. He also enjoys producing and directing Music Theatre productions, ranging from Nabucco and Macbeth, to Camelot, the Merry Widow and Gilbert & Sullivan, to the likes of Godspell and Grease. His ‘cello repertoire includes the concertos by Elgar, Saint-Saëns, Haydn and Brahms, the major sonatas and a vast list of concert pieces. Jeremy has been principal ‘cellist of the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Sinfonia and director of the Chanot Ensemble. He teaches ‘cello and guitar with the Norfolk County music team. Jeremy plays a French ‘cello made by Georges Chanot in 1870 – an instrument he has owned since 1960.
Chris Higgins – Cello
Having begun playing the cello at the age of eight, Chris played with Bromley Youth Music Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. He achieved Grade 8 with Distinction in 2006 and then went on to study Music at the University of Chichester where he played with the University Chamber Orchestra. Since moving to Norfolk Chris has performed with the City of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra and the Whitehall Orchestra, touring Europe extensively. He is also a composer in his spare time, writing works for ensembles of all sizes.
Dave Pullin – Double Bass
Dave’s first love of music began with the Jazz Saxophone, with which he toured the country with the Hank Quinlan Quartet, playing often at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. He has also recorded for radio and television, and toured with Stir Fry, Disconnected Bliss and Ticklish. Dave has since then composed his own Quartet Suite, which was commisioned by the Norwich Arts Centre, for performance at the East Coast Jazz Festival. In more recent years he has focussed on the Double Bass and plays with:
The Red Shadow Quartet
Andrew Durban – Double Bass
After studying with double bass virtuoso Gary Karr at the University of Hartford, Connecticut followed by five years at the Royal College of Music, Andrew began his professional career playing with the London Classical Players conducted by Roger Norrington in the first recording on period instruments of Beethoven 9. Whilst still a student at the RCM he also freelanced with the BBC Symphony Orchestra but mainly with period instrument ensembles such as the Academy of Ancient Music and LCP with whom he toured extensively in Europe and North America. This was an exciting time when much of the classical and romantic repertoire was being recorded on period instruments for the first time. With John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique he took part in recordings of the Beethoven symphony cycle, Verdi’s Requiem, the Brahms symphonies, the Schumann symphonies, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Messe Solonelle and The Trojans, and other opera by Mozart, Weber and Verdi.
As a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment until 2014 Andrew toured all over the world as far as Australia, New Zealand and the Far East and took part in a great many recordings for CD, DVD, television and radio including for the BBC television programme Symphony. Also with OAE he has performed many times in the BBC Proms, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, at the Southbank and Glyndebourne Opera House (where OAE has a residency at both venues) the Edinburgh Festival, New York Lincoln Centre’s Mostly Mozart Festival and many other festivals around the world.
In 2016 Andrew continues to freelance with period instrument ensembles. In his spare time he is learning to make stringed instruments having recently completed a theorbo under the guidance of David van Edwards and is currently making a cello. Andrew is also hugely enjoying learning the bass guitar with Dario Salvi.