School of Strings

Life within the RNCM School of Strings is about unlocking potential. From intensive one-to-one training and a vast array of performance opportunities, to mental focus sessions with sports psychologists and motivational talks with the military elite, we strive to provide the right stimulus to ensure you flourish.

Our dedicated team of tutors are musicians of the highest calibre, and we welcome further world-class artists throughout the year to present masterclasses, lectures and seminars tailored to meet the demands of the profession. Regular specialist performance classes will enrich your learning as a solo and ensemble player, and our open class policy means you’re encouraged to attend lessons within other Schools of Study, developing your creative, technical and personal skills with an array of RNCM staff.

The partnerships we’ve developed with leading orchestras across the UK, including the BBC Philharmonic, Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Manchester Camerata, provide invaluable opportunities to gain professional experience, and we host compulsory screened ‘blind’ auditions for our own orchestras and ensembles twice a year. Additionally, regular concerts and recitals within RNCM venues offer the chance for all players (including double bass, harp, guitar and period instruments) to perform to public audiences, and our Symphony Orchestra often brings the year to a close with a rousing concert at Manchester’s Bridgwater Hall.

For more information on the audition process and requirements for the School of Strings, click here.

Further Information


Head of School

Deputy Head of School
Catherine Yates GMusRNCM (Hons), PPRNCM

Assistant Head of Strings
Dr Louise Lansdown

International Chairs in Violin
Yair Kless BA (Mus), MA (Mus)
Ning Feng
Henning Kraggerud

International Chair in Viola
Nobuko Imai

Howarth International Professor in Cello
Miklós Perényi

International Professor in Double Bass
Božo Paradžik

Visiting Professor in Violin
Levon Chilingirian ARCM, FRCM, Hon PhD, OBE

Professors in Violin
Leland Chen
James Clark
Pavel Fischer
Julia Hanson
Benedict Holland PPRNCM 
Yair Kless
Gina McCormack
Sebastian Mueller
Callum Smart
Yuri Torchinsky PGDip, MDip
Cecily Ward 
Steven Wilkie GMusRNCM, PGDipRNCM
Catherine Yates GMusRNCM (Hons), PPRNCM

Professor in Baroque Violin
Dr Pauline Nobes ARNCM, GRNCM, MusM(Perf), MusB, PGDipRNCM, PhD

Visiting Professors in Viola
Garth Knox
Thomas Riebl

Professors in Viola
Susie Mészáros
Lucy Nolan
Martin Schäfer
Dr Louise Lansdown
Ruth Gibson
Wenhong Luo

Professor in Baroque Viola
Annette Isserlis

Visiting Professor in Cello
Leonard Elschenbroich

Professors in Cello
Nicholas Jones ARCM
Jennifer Langridge, GmusRNCM PPRNCM
Edvard Pogossian
Petr Prause
Hannah Roberts ARCM, PPRNCM, FRNCM
Jacob Shaw
Victoria Simonsen
Gillian Thoday LRAM, Konzert Dip (North West German Music Academy)

Professor in Baroque Cello
Jonathan Manson

Professor in Double Bass
Ronan Dunne
Jiří Hudec

Visiting Professor in Guitar
Gordon Crosskey BSc, ARCM, FRNCM

Professor in Guitar
Craig Ogden BA (Mus), PGDipRNCM, PPRNCM, FRNCM
Rory Russell BMus (Hons)
Tom McKinney BMus (Hons), MusM
Sam Rodwell

Professor in Lute, Theorbo and Early Guitar
Paula Chateauneuf

Professor in Harp
Anne-Marie O’Farrell

Professor in Dalcroze Eurythmics
Karin Greenhead

Principal Study Options

Violin, Viola and Cello 

Our violin, viola and cello players have a wealth of learning, audition and performance opportunities available to them. As well as orchestral repertoire, students are encouraged to take part in chamber music, and those with an interest in Historical Performance have the chance to play with period instruments and bows and to receive tuition in Baroque violin, viola and cello.

Double Bass

Our double bassists receive tuition, regular workshops, masterclasses and learning opportunities from a roster of acclaimed visiting tutors alongside unique performance opportunities. As well as orchestral repertoire, students are encouraged to take part in chamber music and to get involved in cross-School collaborations.

Guitar (Classical)

Under the tutelage of leading guitarist Craig Ogden, our guitar students have the opportunity to learn and explore classical and contemporary guitar repertoire, chamber music and cross-school collaborations, alongside performance and stagecraft.


Under the direction of the internationally-renowned performer and teacher Dr Anne-Marie O’Farrell, our harp students become highly trained in a range of areas, including solo repertoire, orchestral playing, chamber music, improvisation and jazz harp, baroque harp, accompaniment, and audition preparation.

During your studies, Anne-Marie’s experience as a composer will help you gain a deeper understanding of the repertoire, whether that’s solo, orchestral or in collaboration with others, resulting in faster memorisation and greater communication. And with a specialism in transcription and arrangement, she’ll also help you expand your repertoire according to your own interests and within the many collaborations open to you at the RNCM.

Complementing this, Anne-Marie’s training in Alexander Technique and the Interactive Teaching Method will enable you to develop a healthy lifelong technique to help prevent self-induced injury, experience more energy during practice, and be more relaxed and focused onstage.


Violin and Viola

David Adams: Leader of Welsh National Opera
Ian Belton: Brodsky Quartet
Adi Brett: Leader of Manchester Camerata
Mia Cooper: Leader of RTÉ Orchestra
Oliver Heath: Leader of the Heath Quartet
Benedict Holland: Director and Artistic Advisor, Sinfonia Viva; Violin, Psappha
Peter Manning: Concertmaster of The Royal Opera House
Amin Merchant: Leader of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Sarah Oates: 
No 2 1st Violin Philharmonia Orchestra
Kate Richardson: Principal 2nd Violin, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Thomas: 
Founder of the Brodsky Quartet
Catherine Yates: Deputy Head of RNCM Strings; Formerly Principal 2nd Violin, the Hallé


Joris van den Berg: Soloist and chamber musician
Rebecca Gilliver: Principal Cello, London Symphony Orchestra
Clive Greensmith: Cellist, Tokyo Quartet
Philip Higham: Winner of the 2008 Bach Leipzig and 2009 Lutoslawski Competitions
Chris Hoyle: Head of RNCM School of Strings; chamber musician
Li-Wei Qin: Head of Cello Studies at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore.
Hannah Roberts: Internationally-renowned soloist and chamber musician
Ursula Smith: Leading soloist, chamber music and teacher
Young Song: Professor at Kyung Hee University, South Korea
Simon Turner: Co-Principal Cello, the Hallé
Nicholas Trygstad: Section Leader, the Hallé

Double Bass

Leon Bosch:  Principal Bass, Academy of St-Martin’s-in-the-Fields
Roberto Carillo-Garcia:  Section Leader of the Hallé
Siân Hicks:  Principal Bass, Royal Northern Sinfonia
Rachel Meerloo:  Member of the Hallé
Yi Xin Salvage:  Member of the Hallé; teacher at Chetham’s School of Music


Aquarelle Guitar Quartet:  Leading British chamber group
Peter Batchelar:  Senior Lecturer in Classical Guitar, Leeds College of Music
Paul Galbraith:  International soloist
Jon Gjylaci:  Soloist, chamber musician and teacher
Stephen Gordon:  Tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Forbes Henderson:  International soloist
Tom McKinney:  New music specialist who has performed with Psappha, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Ensemble 10/10
Craig Ogden:  Internationally-renowned recording artist and RNCM Tutor in Guitar
Elena Papandreou:  Recording artist and teacher; Assistant Professor at the University of Macedonia, Greece


Catriona McKay:  International clàrsach player performing with Kronos Quartet
Mary Ann Kennedy:  Broadcaster for BBC Radio 3 and winner of the Concours International de l’Harpe
Lucy Haslar:  Freelance harpist with BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Rambert Dance Company
Clouds Harp Quartet:  Winner of the Buxton Fringe Award

Discover more alumni from our School of Strings here.

Contact Us

School of Strings Administrator
E [email protected] 
T 0161 907 5254

Admissions and Course Enquiries
E [email protected]
T 0161 907 5465

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