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Manchester Camerata has appointed a new leader, Caroline Pether, and associate leader, Katie Stillman.

Born in the west Midlands, Pether joined the orchestra in 2013 graduating from Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and became its co-leader two years later. She teaches violin at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and is also leader of Sinfonia Cymru, based in Cardiff.

In a statement posted on the Manchester Camerata website, Pether said: ‘There is no doubt that this is an extremely difficult time for musical organisations, and our orchestra is no exception. I endeavour to raise awareness of our industry’s plight and garner much-needed support for the orchestra and our wider freelance community.’

Read more here.

We are happy to announce we have appointed a new Leader in Caroline Pether, and Associate Leader in Katie Stillman. With these two fantastic musicians, we look forward to bringing amazing music making to our communities.

Caroline says: “I’m delighted and honoured to take up the Leader position at Manchester Camerata. I’ve already enjoyed eight years of inspiring music-making with Gábor and the wonderful musicians of this orchestra, and I look forward to many more. There is no doubt that this is an extremely difficult time for musical organisations, and our orchestra is no exception. I endeavour to raise awareness of our industry’s plight and garner much-needed support for the orchestra and our wider freelance community."

Read more here.

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In their never-ending quest to be just that little bit different (in a good way!), and always open to new challenges and experiences, one of Britain's most innovative and experimental classical orchestras, Manchester Camerata, have turned to the medium of film for their next project. Titled simply 'Untold', the orchestra share personal and life-changing stories through both film and music. They have all been filmed during lockdown in Manchester's historic and beautiful Gorton Monastery, and the first of this series is now live and available to watch for free online. 

In this half-hour film directed by Paul Sapin, which combines the music of Haydn, Arvo Part, Strauss and Harbison, with the spoken word of Scottish poet and laureate Jackie Kay, the slow-moving and intimate nature of the film allows us to reflect, understand, acknowledge and relate to Caroline's internal struggle and to emote with her. And even though the music and the filming are pulling your heart-strings, you are able to react and respond in your own way, which is highly commendable.

There is something about the openness and simplicity of this film which draws you in. I think this is something which can also be said of Manchester Camerata in general, they are always at the forefront of innovation and yet, it is always seemingly simple, accessible, unfussy, and unceremonious. Read the full review here.

Manchester Camerata will be running a series of online films called “Untold”, commissioned and curated by the orchestra. The first film is “Caroline”. Violinist Caroline Pether talks about the story behind this first episode, and the music choices and prose by poet Jackie Kay that it inspired.

You can listen to this interview here at 31:45.

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Jess Gillam and violinist Caroline Pether share the music they love, including a moving meditation on life in lockdown by Brad Meldhau, Jacqueline du Pre’s stunning take on Dvorak, a musical sunrise from Alice Zawadzki. Caroline also attempts to convert Jess to the joys of Brahms.

You can listen to this episode here.

Based in South Wales, the Sinfonia Cymru is an orchestra [...] and this evening part of their number were at Manchester's Stoller Hall to play a selection of dance music from Vivaldi to Arvo Pärt with celebrated accordeonist James Crabb leading the ensemble.

The evening sped by with the 14-strong string ensemble ameliorated by piano and drums. Crabb shared the spotlight with violinist Caroline Pether for some of the tunes, and she came into her own with Arvo Pärt's 'Fratres' - a haunting melody with modern harmonic structure from this contemporary Estonian composer.

Sinfonia Cymru with soloists Caroline Pether and James Crabb proved to be a highly enjoyable evening; light-hearted with serious undertones, the choice of music excellent and we all left humming a dance beat and with a lightness of step!

Read the full review here.

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The evening was conducted by Jonathon Bloxham, whose casual yet enthusiastic introduction to the evening gave us a back-story to each piece, inviting his audience to become part of their journey.

Sinfonia Cymru are a great watch. Some of the members seems to transform when they start playing, such as the leader of the string section. Every phrase is executed with such flamboyance, enhanced by her passion.


This was a lovely prelude for musical sensation, Sheku Kanneh-Mason [...] as he put bow to string he was spellbound, brought to life by the music [...] interacting with his fellow musicians, taking pleasure in their musical conversation.

The Sinfonia Cymru was a sound to behold and Sheku Kanneh-Mason was utterly breathtaking.

Read the full review here.

What is it about chamber or smaller orchestra that appeals to you over larger orchestras?

There’s something about smaller ensembles that allows for a more improvisatory feel in terms of phrasing, colours and timings; all those things that a composer can’t easily write in the score. Somehow when there are fewer people it’s easier for individuals to shine and change the course of the musical journey within the framework of the whole. That said, there is something awe-inspiring about a vast number of people all working together in, say, a Mahler or a Brahms symphony. That depth of sound can be incredibly moving.

Sinfonia Cymru has been described in the media as first class. What do you think are the key elements of success for a chamber orchestra to rise above the rest?

For me the key is in the name; chamber orchestra. If the musicians approach the music as if they are playing in a string quartet or a wind quintet i.e. with a sense of individual responsibility and spontaneity, then the music will fizz with life. If we fall into auto pilot or crowd mentality, then we’re in trouble!

Read the full interview here.

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