RNCM Strings Day


Beethoven, Tippett & Clyne 1.15pm

Michael Tippett Fantasia on a Theme of Corelli *
Anna Clyne Stride ^
Ludwig van Beethoven arr Mahler String Quartet No 11 in F minor Op 95 for string orchestra + 

Pavel Fischer director +
Chris Hoyle *, Agata Zając conductors
Cecily Ward ^, Catherine Yates * leaders
RNCM String Orchestra 

Mozart & Puccini 5.00pm

Programme to include:
Giacomo Puccini Crisantemi
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Divertimento for strings in F major K 138/125c
Music for solo violin by J S Bach and Eugène Ysaÿe  

Chris Hoyle, Catherine Yates directors
Ning Feng solo violin
RNCM String Ensemble 

Mozart & Schoenberg 7.30pm

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Divertimento in E flat major K 563
Arnold Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht Op 4 * 

Ning Feng violin
Lise Berthaud viola
Nick Trygstad cello 

Henk Guittart conductor *
RNCM String Orchestra *

The RNCM is committed to reducing its carbon footprint. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far but know we need to do more as we work to create a more sustainable world. One way we can make a huge difference is to minimise the number of printed programmes and free sheets we produce each season.

This is why we’ve decided to move away from mass produced, single use print for most of our events, offering an online programme of up-to-date information instead. Additionally, many of our concerts now include a personal introduction by members of staff and students, which gives insight into the repertoire performed as well as an opportunity to get to know our community a little more.   

Where printed programmes are still required, such as RNCM Opera performances and end of term showcases, content is thoughtfully produced using limited resources. An online option is also available for those wishing to support our mission.

We always welcome feedback from our audience members and would like to thank everyone who has supported our mission so far.

Trade Exhibition

Please visit our trade exhibition: D’Addario; Rod Ward Violins, Violas and Cellos; The Sound Post Ltd; Tim Toft Violins; William Szott


Pavel Fischer

Pavel Fischer was born in Zlín  (Czech Republic) in 1965. He hails from a musical family background, his father, Eduard Fischer, being a well-known composer and conductor. Pavel studied at both the Prague Conservatoire and Prague Academy of Performing Arts between 1979 and 1989 under the guidance of Professor Nora Grumlíková. In 1988, together with pianist Ivo Jančik, he won the International Chamber Music Competition in Trapani, Italy.

In 1989 he became co-founder and leader of the Škampa Quartet. Many prizes followed, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Award and they were the first Quaret to be appointed Resident Artists at The Wigmore Hall (1994-1998). This led to invitations to perform at major Festivals worldwide including Prague Spring, Gstaad, Aspen, Schwetzingen, Edinburgh, Schleswig-Holstein and Melbourne amongst others.

With the Škampa Quartet, Pavel has been an award-winning recording artist for Supraphon for many years, also broadcasting for the BBC regularly as part of the Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square, St Luke’s and the Chamber Music Proms series. Performances of his quartet have been selected for release on the Wigmore Hall Live label.

Pavel has also worked with musicians including Josef Suk, Janine Jansen, Liza Ferschtman, Itamar Golan, Kathryn Stott, Melvyn Tan, Michael Collins, Jennifer Stumm, Jiři Bárta, D Pecková, Wolfgang Holzmair, Ronald van Spaendonck and Nikolaj Demiděnko.

After leaving the Skampa Quartet Pavel has dedicated himself to his teaching activities. In 2008 he became a violin tutor at the RNCM in Manchester and Chetham’s School of Music. Pavel is in much demand as a masterclass giver and has been engaged at  the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the ‘Nederlandse Strijkkwartet Academie’, Orlando Festival, Weesp Chamber Music Festival, Kamermuziek Atelier Delft and the Strijkkwartet Biennale, Amsterdam amongst others. In 2018 Pavel became the director of the “Winterschool” at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.

Pavel’s interest in music of other genres resulted in a long-term cooperation with Iva Bittová  and the founding of the cross-over trio “Bardolino.” In December 2009 he participated in the concert project of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull. Since 2007 Pavel has been gaining recognition as a composer. His first string quartet ‘Morava’ was commissioned and premiered at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2008, his further two string quartets being premiered at the Lake District Summer Music Festival’

In 2016 the premiere of his first Violin Concerto was held in České Budějovice, and in 2018 his work “Temperaments” for Voice, Violin, Cello, Accordion and Strings were first performed in the Dvorak Hall of the Rudolfinum, Prague. In the same year his “Tales from Moravia” were performed by the Pavel Haas String Quartet at Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

Chris Hoyle

Chris Hoyle is Head of the School of Strings at the RNCM and enjoys a busy life as a chamber musician, orchestral player and teacher.

He studied with Alexander Baillie and, at the age of 16, he entered the RNCM to study with Raphael Sommer.  He appeared in Paul Tortelier’s televised masterclasses for the BBC and subsequently won scholarships enabling him to continue studying with both Paul and Maud Tortelier in France.

He has worked with many of the UK’s finest orchestras, including the BBC Philharmonic, of which he was a member for many years.  He also plays as Guest Principal Cello with several orchestras and he has given solo recitals nationwide including a performance of Schnittke’s Cello Sonata to the composer as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. He has performed widely as a chamber musician in the McFarlane String Quartet, Psappha and several small ensembles within the BBC.  In these roles, he has frequently broadcast for radio and TV. Chris plays a prize-winning cello made by Eero Haahti in Paris.

Cecily Ward

American violinist Cecily Ward was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and began studying violin and piano at the age of four. She was the founding first violinist of the San Francisco based Cypress String Quartet, a position she held for twenty years until the quartet disbanded in 2016. With the Cypress Cecily performed throughout the United States and Europe, and recorded 16 critically acclaimed albums, including a complete Beethoven Quartet Cycle.

Praised for her ‘lithe finesse,’ ‘charm,’ and ‘rhapsodic violin,’ she has collaborated with esteemed musicians including cellist Gary Hoffman, pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher, pianist Walter Ponce, and cellist Zuill Bailey.

A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Cleveland Institute of Music and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Cecily’s mentors have included Donald Weilerstein, Norbert Brainin, Zoltan Szekely, Bonnie Hampton, Sylvia Rosenberg, Robert McDonald and Isaac Stern.

Catherine Yates

Catherine Yates is Deputy Head of the School of Strings at the RNCM. She began her musical studies with Marion Hillier, before going on to study at Chetham’s School of Music and the RNCM. Here, her teachers included Malcolm Layfield and Lydia Mordkovich. Further training included courses at Yale University and the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in Aldeburgh. In 1989 she became a member of the Sorrel Quartet which was formed at the RNCM under the tutelage of Dr Christopher Rowland and worked regularly with members of the Vermeer, Borodin, Alban Berg and Allegri Quartets.

The Quartet went on to become one of Britain’s foremost ensembles, performing extensively both at home and abroad and broadcasting regularly on BBC Radio, and a long association with Chandos Records saw the recording of twelve discs. These include the complete Quartets of Shostakovich, all the major quartet works of Britten and a critically acclaimed disc of the Elgar Quartet and Piano Quintet, with pianist Ian Brown.

Catherine’s career took a sharp change of direction in 2007, with her appointment as Principal Second Violin with the Hallé. She held this position for six years, combining symphony orchestra life with a busy programme of teaching and chamber music, both as violinist and viola player. After leaving the Halle, she took up her current position at the RNCM whilst continuing to perform regularly as Guest Principal with many leading orchestras, including BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Welsh National Opera. She continues to fuel her passion for chamber music and is involved with a number of charitable organisations that support young musicians.

Agata Zajac

Agata Zając is a Polish symphonic and opera conductor. She started her musical path as a violinist, and then completed her conducting studies at the Poznań Academy of Music. Currently, she is a D.A. student at the Academy of Music in Kraków under the guidance of Łukasz Borowicz.


She is a former Resident Conductor of the Toruń Symphony Orchestra (2020/21) and the Sudeten Philharmonic Orchestra (2021/22). She already made her debuts abroad – recently in Musikverein Graz in Austria and Orchestre national de Metz in France. Moreover she had an opportunity to conduct many Polish orchestras incl. Poznań Philharmonic, Opole Philharmonic, Zielona Góra Philharmonic, Schumann Youth Orchestra and Archetti Chamber Orchestra. Since 2018, as an assistant conductor she has been collaborating with Warsaw Chamber Opera in premieres of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serai, Idomeneo and Halka of Stanislaw Moniuszko. In 2019 she was assisting to Greek conductor Michalis Economou in his international projects with Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Greek National Radio Orchestra and Athens Philharmonia Orchestra.


She participated in many international conducting masterclasses – with Jaap van Zweden, Johannes Schlaefli, Peter Eötvös, Mark Heron, Marin Alsop, David Reiland as teachers. She was a student of the Gstaad Conducting Academy in 2021. She was invited to many international competitions and auditions – at most of them she reached the finals (Göteborg Opera, Orchestre national d’Île-de-France, Warsaw Philharmonic, NOSPR). At the Malta International Conducting Masterclass & Competition (2018) and International Conducting Competition Città di Brescia (2021) she received special distinctions. She was the participant of the last Donatella Flick LSO Conducting Competition where she had an opportunity to rehearse with the London Symphony Orchestra.

In 2018 she was awarded with a scholarship of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Poland.

In the 2022/23 season Agata Zając is the Mills Williams Junior Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Ning Feng

Established at the highest level in China, Ning Feng performs regularly in his native country with major international and local orchestras, in recital and with the Dragon Quartet which he founded in 2012. Enjoying a global career, Ning Feng has developed a reputation internationally as an artist of great lyricism and emotional transparency, displaying tremendous bravura and awe-inspiring technical accomplishment.

Recent successes for Ning Feng have included a return to Budapest Festival Orchestra with Iván Fischer in Budapest and on tour to China performing Dutilleux L’arbre des songes, and on tour with Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and van Zweden which included performances in Singapore, Seoul, Osaka, Sydney and Melbourne, following his critically-acclaimed European tour with the orchestra in 2015, as well as successful debuts with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital and chamber music he performs regularly with Igor Levit, amongst others, in many of the major festivals in Germany and elsewhere, including Kissinger Sommer, Heidelberg, Moritzburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schubertiade and La Jolla Music Society (California).

Highlights of Ning’s 2017/18 season include debuts with City of Birmingham Symphony with Gražinytė-Tyla playing Bruch Scottish Fantasy and Brahms Violin Concerto, with Royal Scottish National Orchestra performing Korngold, with BBC Scottish Symphony performing Bernstein’s Serenade with John Wilson and with New Jersey Symphony/Slobodeniouk. Ning also returns to Bilbao Symphony Orchestra with Giancarlo Guerrero, China Philharmonic with David Stern, and Guangzhou Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic, both under the baton of Long Yu. Chamber music highlights include returns to Wigmore Hall and Schubertiade to perform the Schubert Piano Trios with Igor Levit and Daniel Müller-Schott, and two all-Schubert programmes with Nicholas Angelich and Edgar Moreau in Lucerne, as well as his debut at Moritzburg Festival and a performance at Premiere Performances Hong Kong’s 10th anniversary gala concert.

Ning Feng records for Channel Classics in the Netherlands and his latest disc, Apasionado, with Orchestra Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias and Rossen Milanov, features works by Sarasate, Lalo, Ravel and Bizet/Waxman and was released in March 2016. Two further discs are due for release in the 2017/18 season: Bach’s complete solo works for violin – the first recording by a Chinese violinist – and the Elgar and Finzi Violin Concertos with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto.

Born in Chengdu, China, Ning Feng studied at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, the Hanns Eisler School of Music (Berlin) with Antje Weithaas and the Royal Academy of Music (London) with Hu Kun, where he was the first student ever to be awarded 100% for his final recital. The recipient of prizes at the Hanover International, Queen Elisabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions, Ning Feng was First Prize winner of the 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition (New Zealand), and in 2006 won first prize in the International Paganini Competition.

Ning Feng plays a 1721 Stradivari violin, known as the ‘MacMillan’, on private loan, kindly arranged by Premiere Performances of Hong Kong, and plays on strings by Thomastik-Infeld, Vienna.

Lise Berthaud

Lise Berthaud is unanimously praised as an outstanding figure on the international music scene. She has performed in various prestigious concert venues throughout the world (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Het Concertgebouw, Baden Baden Festspielhaus, Elbphilharmonie, Musikverein, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, The Sage Gateshead, Philharmonie de Paris, Moritzburg Festival, Schwartzenberg’s Schubertiade Hohenems, Rencontres Musicales d’Evian) with such artists as Renaud Capuçon, Baiba Skride, Lauma Skride, Harriet Krijgh, Julian Steckel, Daishin Kashimoto, Eric Le Sage, Augustin Dumay, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Emmanuel Pahud, Gordan Nikollich, Martin Helmchen, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, Alina Ibragimova, Veronika Eberle, Christian Poltera, Quatuor Ebène, the Modigliani Quartet.

As a soloist, Lise has played with all BBC orchestras, including for her BBC Proms Debut in 2014 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton. Other solo engagements include the Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Düsseldorfer Symphoniker, Orchestre National de Lyon, les Musiciens du Louvre, Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Sao Paulo Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Orchestre de Chambre de Wallonie, Hong-Kong Sinfonietta, Hallé Orchestra, and various orchestras in France, with conductors like Sakari Oramo, Pascal Rophé, Fabien Gabel, Emmanuel Krivine, Andrew Litton, François Leleux, Paul Mc Creesh, Marc Minkowski, Leonard Slatkin who invited Lise to perform and record (for Naxos) Harold in Italy with the Orchestre National de Lyon as part of the orchestra’s Berlioz complete works recording for Naxos.

During the 2013-2015 period Lise was part of the prestigious BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists Scheme which allowed her to perform with all BBC orchestras and record a great amount of repertoire both live and in studio.

After taking part in Eric Le Sage’s successful recordings of Schumann and Fauré complete piano chamber music works, she released her first solo album in 2013 with pianist Adam Laloum under the French Aparté label. The disc featuring works by Brahms, Schumann and Schubert was unanimously praised and won several awards in France.

In 2018-2021 she took part in the recording of Brahms’ complete chamber music for B-Records with Eric Le Sage, Pierre Fouchenneret, François Salque and others, which has been critically acclaimed since then.

Her passion for contemporary music has also lead her to collaborate with various composers, including Philippe Hersant, Thierry Escaich, Henri Dutilleux, Gyorgy Kurtag, Guillaume Connesson, Florentine Mulsant or Eric Tanguy.

Lise Berthaud was born in 1982 and started studying the violin at the age of 5. She studied with Pierre-Henry Xuereb and Gérard Caussé at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris and was a prize winner of the European Young Instrumentalists Competition in 2000. In 2005, she won the Hindemith Prize at the Geneva International Competition. She was short listed by the Victoires de la Musique Classique 2009 as “Révélation de l’Année” (Newcomer of the Year).

Lise Berthaud plays a 1660 Antonio Casini viola, courtesy of Bernard Magrez.

Nicholas Trygstad

Born into a musical family, Nicholas Trygstad began cello lessons at the age of four in Minnesota, USA. In his teenage years he studied with Peter Howard, principal cellist of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, who inspired Nick to pursue the cello professionally.

In 1998 he came to England to study with Hannah Roberts and Ralph Kirshbaum at the Royal Northern College of Music. While at the RNCM he received many awards both within the UK and America, most notably the Bronze Medal in the London Symphony Orchestra scholarship competition, performing the Schumann Concerto with the LSO, and the Gold Medal from the RNCM, the institution’s highest honour.

In 2004, his final year of study, he won awards in the Haverhill Sinfonia Soloist Competition, the Yamaha Music Foundation Scholarship Competition, an incentive award from the Pierre Fournier Award competition, and the silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Having previously been principal cello with Scottish Opera, Nicholas became principal cello of the Hallé Orchestra in 2005.

In addition to his work with the Hallé, Nick performs regularly in recitals and chamber music collaborations. He is a member of the Manchester Piano Trio which plays extensively around the UK and he has performed concertos with Northern Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, and the Hallé.

Henk Guittart

Henk Guittart (b.1953) studied viola with Jürgen Kussmaul and orchestral conducting with Louis Stotijn at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands. In 1974 he founded the Schoenberg Ensemble, of which he was the violist and artistic director until 1991. During 33 years, from its founding in 1976 until the end of the quartet’s existence in 2009, he has been the violist of the Schoenberg Quartet.

During the 37 years of his life on stage as a violist, Henk Guittart gave many world premières (including works by Schoenberg and Zemlinsky which he rediscovered) and collaborated with many composers, such as Louis Andriessen, Jonathan Berger, Luigi Dallapiccola, Robin de Raaff, Jonathan Dove, Berthold Goldschmidt, Sofia Gubaidulina, Maurizio Kagel, Otto Ketting, Igor Markevitch, Luigi Nono, Fredric Rzewski, Alfred Schnittke, Valentin Silvestrov and Isang Yun.

Henk Guittart worked from 1978 until 2019 as chamber music coach and conductor at various Dutch Conservatoires. He was guest conductor/professor at the music academies of Budapest, Princeton, Los Angeles (USC), Dresden, The Hague, Amsterdam, Cologne, Moscow (Tchaikovsky Conservatory), Manchester, London (Guildhall) and Stanford. From 2010 until 2013 Henk Guittart was Artistic Director of Music Programs, Fall & Winter at The Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada, after having served there since the fall of 2006 as artistic advisor of music programs and as special guest faculty during fall, winter, and summer programs. At the Banff Centre he coached many young artists and chamber ensembles.

In March 2014 Henk Guittart was appointed International Tutor in Strings Performance and Pedagogy at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In September of the same year, he accepted the post of Artistic Director of the Dutch Orlando Festival, and international chamber music festival.

Henk Guittart has conducted a wide range of repertoire, from the Viennese classics and many works from the Second Viennese School to brand-new music, including music-theatre and opera. As a conductor he recorded a dozen CDs with works by Schoenberg, Webern, Berg, Zemlinsky, Jonathan Dove, Jonathan Berger, Louis Andriessen, Rudolf Escher, Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, Reger, Debussy, Busoni and Kurt Weill.

In 2011 he founded Gruppo Montebello, an ‘all-star’ hand-picked international large ensemble, with which he performed and recorded the complete collection of arrangements from the 1920’s by the Viennese Society for Private Musical Performances, often in his own revised versions and including several later arrangements of orchestral music. He now concentrates with Gruppo Montebello on performances and recordings of the complete large ensemble works by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern.

Since 2019 Henk Guittart leads a master class for performance practice of Schoenberg’s music in Vienna at the Arnold Schoenberg Center, and an annual chamber music festival in combination with master classes in Ancona, Italy.