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We are delighted our festival will be live this year and we welcome back our dedicated audience. If social distancing legal requirements are still in place, all festival events will be restructured to accommodate these restrictions and all ticket purchases will be honoured. Tickets cannot be refunded except in the event of cancellation of a performance by SDSM.

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Simon Callow

Simon Callow is an actor, author and director. He studied at Queen’s University, Belfast, and then trained as an actor at the Drama Centre in London. He joined the National Theatre in 1979, where he created the role of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. His many one-man shows include The Mystery of Charles Dickens, Being Shakespeare, A Christmas Carol, Inside Wagner’s Head, Juvenalia, The Man Jesus and Tuesday at Tesco’s. He has appeared in many films including A Room with a View, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Phantom of the Opera, The Man Who Invented Christmas and Victoria & Abdul. He directed Shirley Valentine in the West End and on Broadway, Single Spies at the NT and Carmen Jones at the Old Vic, as well as the film of The Ballad of the Sad Café. He has written biographies of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and Charles Dickens, and three autobiographical books: Being An Actor, Love Is Where It Falls, and My Life in Pieces. The third volume of his massive Orson Welles biography, One Man Band, appeared in 2016; Being Wagner: The Triumph of the Will, a short biography of Wagner, was published in 2017. Music is his great passion, and he has made many appearances with the LPO, the LSO and the London Mozart Players.

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Robert Thompson

A consummate musician, Robert is equally at home as soloist and chamber musician. Engagements included appearances as soloist at Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall, the Leeds and Nottingham International Piano Series, and chamber music performances at Wigmore Hall, The Sage Gateshead and in Hong Kong.

As a chamber musician Robert regularly collaborates with instrumentalists including cellist Philip Higham, violinists Benjamin Baker, Thomas Gould and Bartosz Woroch, trombonist Peter Moore and the Heath Quartet. In 2014 he recorded music by Strauss and Beethoven for Champs Hill Records with Benjamin Baker.

For 10 years Robert was a member of the Rhodes Piano Trio. The Trio was selected by YCAT in 2010 and in July 2011 won 2nd Prize in the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition. They went on to give recitals at Wigmore Hall, Barbican, the Louvre, Aldeburgh, Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schwetzinger Festivals. In 2012 they were fellows at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and resident ensemble as part of the Ones to Watch series at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore.

Robert studied at Chetham’s School of Music and at the Royal Northern College of Music. In 2010 he completed his Master’s with Peter Frankl at Yale University where he received the Charles S. Miller prize for outstanding work. He has taken part in masterclasses in Appeldorn (Holland), the Britten-Pears School Aldeburgh, Verbier, Aix en Provence and IMS Prussia Cove, and worked with Andras Schiff, Stephen Hough, Charles Rosen amongst others, and enjoyed intensive Chamber Music coaching from Mitsuko Uchida, Menahem Pressler, Alasdair Tait, Ferenc Rados, Ian Brown and Gabor Takacs-Nagy.
He has performed widely as a concerto soloist in repertoire ranging from Mozart to Shostakovich, regularly taken part in the Lake District Summer Music Festival as Rising Star, and given recitals at venues and festivals across the UK.

Robert was Head of Piano at Bedford School for nine years and is now Assistant Director of Music (Performance) and Head of Keyboard at Christ’s Hospital School.

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Morgan Szymanski

Described as ‘a player destined for future glories’ (Classical Guitar Magazine) Morgan Szymanski has been highlighted as ‘One to Watch’ by both Gramophone Magazine and the BBC Music Magazine.

A featured artist on the cover of Classical Guitar Magazine, Morgan Szymanski was selected as a finalist for the ‘Outstanding Young Artist Award’ by MIDEM Classique/IAMA.

Born in Mexico City in 1979, Morgan Szymanski started playing the guitar at the age of six. Early studies at the National Music School (Mexico) and the Edinburgh Music School led to a scholarship to study under Carlos Bonell and Gary Ryan at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, graduating in 2004 with first class honours. During his studies he won guitar prizes at the RCM as well as being awarded scholarships from the Tillett Trust, Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Wall Trust, FONCA and a scholarship to study at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He went on to become the first solo guitarist to be selected by the Young Classical Artist Trust and was awarded a Junior Fellowship at the RCM, where he completed his Master’s degree with distinction.

A top prize-winner at international competitions, Morgan won first prize at the National Guitar Competition in Mexico. Performances as a soloist and with orchestras have taken him to concert halls and festivals in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, China, Chile, France, Germany, Guatemala, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Macedonia, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Scotland, USA, South Africa and Zimbabwe. He is included in the Mexican Foreign Office publication “El Mundo en las Manos” for his contribution as an ambassador of music and Mexican culture overseas.

In recent years Morgan has given recitals at major UK venues and festivals including the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, King’s Place, The Sage Gateshead, Royal Opera House, and London International Guitar Festival. He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras such as the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, Orchestra of the Swan, Southbank Sinfonia, Welsh Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Sinfonia, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Cervantes Choir and the Coro de Madrigalistas de Bellas Artes in Mexico’s Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Morgan is a resident artist at Beaminster Festival in Dorset, of which Sir Neville Marriner was patron.
Morgan continues to build his international reputation with performances around the world, most recently including performances at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Queens Hall (Edinburgh), Luxembourg Philharmonie, National Concert Hall (Dublin), Vienna Konzerthaus, Festival de México and Festival Cervantino. In 2018 he toured South Africa with guitarist James Grace.

Morgan can be heard frequently on BBC Radio 3 and broadcast Alec Roth´s Concerto with the Britten Sinfonia and Mark Padmore live. He recorded Alejandro Basulto´s guitar concerto ´Jig Variations´ with the Shakespeare Sinfonia for Tocatta Classics in a recording celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Anglo-Mexican Foundation. He also performed Frida Kahlo’s only known song with Lizzie Ball at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His recordings on Sarabande Records have been described as “top class in every respect” and as “a jewel” by Gramophone Magazine. Of Szymanski’s “Sketches of Mexico”, Gramaphone Magazine wrote “a gorgeous and original tribute to Szymanski’s homeland, its artists and its music” with Morgan’s playing “of the highest order”. He has recorded the works of Alec Roth for the Signum label with tenor Mark Padmore. His latest recording, “El Arbol de la Vida” was supported by the Mexican Arts Council and includes nine world premieres written especially for him.

Morgan’s devotion to chamber music has led to collaborations with singers Dame Ann Murray and Mark Padmore, guitarists John Williams, Carlos Bonell and Celso Machado, Alison Balsom (trumpet), Harriet Mackenzie and Lizzie Ball (violin), Marcelo Nisinman (bandoneon), Adam Walker and Alejandro Escuer (flute) and the Sacconi, Doric, Amici, Carducci, Cremona, Carlos Chávez and Odeion Quartets.

Numerous composers have dedicated works for Morgan including, Michael Nyman, Alec Roth, Stephen McNeff, Simon Rowland-Jones, Simone Iannarelli, Deborah Pritchard, Paul Coles, Ivan Moseley, Marcela Rodríguez and Julio César Oliva.

He is an alumni of Live Music Now! , the scheme started by Lord Yehudi Menuhin to reach audiences that would otherwise have no access to live music. In 2016 he founded PRISMA, an artistic outreach programme aimed at taking workshops in music and the performing arts to socially disadvantaged and remote areas in Mexico. This project has benefitted over 16,000 Mexican children.

Morgan is much in demand as a teacher and has given masterclasses at top conservatoires worldwide including the Royal College of Music, Royal Welsh College of Music and Trinity College of Music as well as conservatoires in China and Mexico.

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Melvyn Tan

Melvyn Tan has established his international reputation in the 1980s with pioneering performances on fortepiano and continues to cast fresh light on music conceived for the piano’s early and modern forms.

Tan’s work as recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist has been heard at many of the world’s leading concert halls, from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus AMUZ in Belgium, London’s Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall and New York’s Lincoln Center, and at major festivals including Salzburg, Edinburgh, La Roque d’Anthéron as well as Bath’s Mozartfest, City of London festival and Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival.

As a concerto soloist Tan has performed with such prestigious ensembles as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin’s in the Fields, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Salzburg’s Camerata and Mozarteum orchestras, Bruckner Orchester Linz, Melbourne Symphony, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, and Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Recent and forthcoming appearances include performances with MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony
Orchestra and Dennis Russell Davies, the Orchester Wiener Akademie in Vienna, a return to Wigmore Hall and St Martin in the Fields, National Gallery Singapore, a Beethoven Marathon in Belgium, Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, Oundle International Festival, South Downs Summer Music Festival, as well as recitals/tours in Singapore, France, Italy and South Africa. Regularly appearing in venues across the UK his recent Wigmore Hall performance as part of Kevin Volan’s 70th Birthday celebrations was described by The Telegraph as a “triumph for him as much as Volans”. Melvyn was privileged to perform as part of the Wigmore Hall and Radio 3 special series of concerts, livestreamed during the COVID-19 pandemic with cellist Guy Johnston. With violinist Paul Boucher, he has also continued his role in devising Music and Word at Charleston, a combination of music and readings in the unique setting of the East Sussex Farmhouse made famous by artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

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Maxim Kinasov

Maxim Kinasov is an award-winning solo and chamber musician who performs a wide range of repertoire from Bach to Shostakovich. Born in Moscow, he began piano lessons at the age of five, making his concerto debut at the age of nine and his recital debut a year later.

Awarded a scholarship, he obtained his Bachelor of Music degree with Distinction from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatoire. His teachers there included Sergei Dorensky, Nikolai Lugansky, Pavel Nersessian and Andrei Pisarev, who are his greatest musical influences.

During his studies, he won several music competitions including Second Prize and Audience Prize at the 2015 International Gian Battista Viotti Piano Competition in Vercelli, Italy, Grand Prix and Special Cuomo Foundation Prize at the 2014 International Chopin Piano Competition in Rome and Grand Prix, First Prize and Special Prize ‘For the best performance of a work by Tchaikovsky’ at the 2013 International Konstantin Igumnov Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Lipetsk, Russia.

In 2019 Maxim completed his Master of Music in Performance degree, also with Distinction, at the Royal Northern College of Music in the class of Ashley Wass, supported by a Leverhulme Arts Scholarship. Last year he studied on the International Artist Diploma course at the RNCM, supported by the FM Wright Piano Award. Now he is studying on the Postgraduate Diploma Advanced Studies course at the RNCM, supported by the Anderson Powell Prize, and the Helen Rachel Mackaness Charitable Trust.

In 2018, Maxim won the RNCM’s most prestigious award, the Gold Medal and played in the Gold Medal Winners concert at Wigmore Hall in the Spring of 2019. He most recently won First Prize and Special Jury Mention at the Cantù International Piano and Orchestra Competition (Italy, 2019), Runner-up Prize at the Bromsgrove International Musicians Competition (2019, United Kingdom), and Second Prize and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Prize at the 2019 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition.

In April 2020 Maxim has been named as an Artist of the Month of the Talent Unlimited Music Charity and in May won an Ian Fleming Award at the Help Musicians Postgraduate Awards. Also, he was selected as a Kirckman Concert Society Artist for 2019-20 and played his full-length solo debut at Wigmore Hall in October 2019.

Maxim has been a soloist of the St Petersburg House of Music since 2012 and has performed in prestigious venues across Russia, Italy, Spain, UK, Brazil and US, including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. He has performed internationally with orchestras including the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Teatro Carlo Felice, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Hallé, among others.

At the invitation of Nikolai Lugansky Maxim took part in the 35th International Rachmaninov Music Festival in Tambov, Russia (2016). Other festival appearances include the ‘Gathering Friends’ International Music Festival at the Moscow Conservatory, South Downs Summer Music Festival in Alfriston, Chester Music Festival, Battle Festival and Hastings International Piano Digital Festival.

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Levaré Quartet

The Levaré Quartet was formed in 2017 at the Royal Northern College of Music, finding an almost instant rapport as a group. The quartet first performed publicly in the 2018 RNCM Chamber Music Festival and went on to win the college’s Weil Prize.

They enjoy exploring a wide range of music styles with recent performances including music from Haydn to Schoenberg, and collaborations with the Manchester Roots Orchestra and the jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock in a performance of his compositions in the RNCM concert hall 2019. Members of the quartet also arrange, compose and improvise as a group as part of their rehearsal and performance routine, bringing more diversity and passion to the result.

The Levaré Quartet have played in many of Manchester’s performance venues, including Manchester Cathedral, Gorton Monastery and the RNCM Concert Hall. Other notable performances include an evening recital for Manchester chamber music society (RNCM concert hall), the Solway arts society (Wigton), Malvern music festival 2018, recital at the Buxton Opera house.

Furthermore, as students of the RNCM, while mainly studying with Donald Grant, they have received tuition from members of prestigious chamber groups including the Elias, Skampa, Cypress, Talich and Michelangelo quartets, Trio Gaspard and the Sitkovetsky Trio.

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Joe Stilgoe Trio

“A very British Harry Connick Jr” THE TIMES

Joe Stilgoe is an internationally acclaimed singer, pianist and songwriter. He has released 8 albums, five of which have topped the UK Jazz chart.

Growing up as the youngest of 5 children he was surrounded by music, with two parents in the business -songwriter and TV personality Richard Stilgoe and opera-singing Annabel Hunt. He is a true modern-day entertainer, known globally as a performer of wit, style and a level of musicianship which has seen him recognised as one of the best singer-pianists in the world. Always searching for a new way of bringing not only his own songs but those he loves from the past to a new audience, he is an enticing mix of his heroes Danny Kaye, Nat King Cole and Dudley Moore, and influenced by Harry Connick Jr, Peter Skellern, Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beach Boys, Oscar Peterson, Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin and JoniMitchell.

His latest album, Stilgoe In The Shed, which topped the UK Jazz Chart, came about after Joe started broadcasting on Youtube from his shed at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The resulting show ‘Stilgoe In The Shed’ picked up over 180,000 viewers around the world, and led to this unique album, praised in the UK press and featured on both BBC and ITV news.

He has created award-winning theatre shows including A Tribute To Gene Kelly, Songs On Film and Live At The Lyric with his own big band. He works extensively on radio, having hosted and starred many times in BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night, while also being a regular presence on the station (Joe Stilgoe – Christmas At The Movies, Jingle Bell Joe, One Night Stand at Ronnie Scotts), and being a regular guest and presenter on JazzFM, Radio 3 and 4.

On stage: High Society at The Old Vic, Guys And Dolls at The Albert Hall, Olivier Awards at Royal Opera House.

As composer and lyricist: The Jungle Book, The Midnight Gang, ZOG, ZOG & The Flying Doctors, A Greener Garden.

On TV, he has appeared most notably hosting BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year, and least notably in Bargain Hunt.

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Graham Mitchell

Graham is Principal Double Bass of English National Opera, Senior Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and Double Bassist with the Nash Ensemble.

He was a member of the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1998- 2011, and as a guest works regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic. As a guest principal home and abroad Graham has led many orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw, Stuttgart Radio, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Over the years Graham has performed and recorded with many soloists and chamber ensembles including Anthony Marwood, James Crabb, Pekka Kuusisto, and Imogen Cooper; the Florestan, Gould, and Kungsbacka Piano Trios, the Belcea and Takacs Quartets and the Aronivitz Ensemble.

In 2007 Graham was invited by Steven Isserlis to perform at the IMS Prussia Cove Chamber Festival followed by a national tour and concert at the Wigmore Hall. This resulted in IMS Prussia Cove winning the chamber prize at the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Awards. His recording of Schubert’s Trout Quintet with Paul Lewis and the Leopold String Trio is praised as “one of the finest modern Trouts available” (The Sunday Times).

Graham plays on a 1750 double bass attributed to Testore. He is extremely thankful to the Stradivari Trust for their support.

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Alun Darbyshire

Alun studied at the Royal College of Music with Michael Winfield and in Freiburg, Germany with Heinz Holliger and now enjoys a varied career combining solo, chamber and orchestral playing.

He is currently the oboist for Les Misérables in the West End and Principal Oboe with Glyndebourne on Tour and performs as guest Principal Oboe with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia. Recordings include concertos by Albinoni and Marcello and Mozart’s Oboe quartet with the Adderbury Ensemble and he has performed as soloist with the London Festival Orchestra, City of Oxford Orchestra, Brighton Philharmonic, Northern Chamber Orchestra and with the City of London Sinfonia at the Proms. As a chamber musician he has appeared at the Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and at festivals such as Corbridge, Presteigne, Endellion and Alcala, Spain.

Alun teaches at Magdalen College School Oxford, has given classes at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and teaches online at

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