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Photo Credits: Judith Fieldhouse & Colin Hattersley

McOpera String Quintet

Seasonal Strings

Katie Hull - violin
Helena Zambrano Quispe - violin
Mary Ward - viola
Marie Connell - cello
Peter Fry - double bass

Guest Player
Hugh Macdonald - keyboards

2 December 2023

Programme to include:

Christmas Music ‘Behold I bring Glad Tidings’

Sinfonia in C major, Christmas Concerto RV112

Concerto no 5 for strings and continuo


Selection of Christmas songs

Katie Hull - violin
Katie Hull is from Dorset and studied violin in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno. She was appointed Principal 1st violin with the Northern Sinfonia at the age of 21, and eight years later moved to Glasgow where she worked with the Scottish Ensemble and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She was appointed Assistant Leader of The Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 1996 and was a violin tutor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for 20 years. She was the founder of Music Co-operative Scotland in 2013. Alongside her busy playing schedule Katie gained an MBA from the University of Glasgow in 2018 and is now active on the committees of two local chamber music societies in addition to running her new charitable company, McOpera.

Helena Zambrano Quispe - violin
Helena was born in Lodz, Poland, and started playing the violin at the age of 7. She studied at the Fryderic Chopin University in Warsaw and the Hochschule der Künste Bern with Slawomir Tomasik and Monika Urbaniak, winning several scholarships and graduating with distinction for her Master's recital. She worked with Camerata Bern, Biel Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Ballet before joining the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 2014. She also enjoys freelancing with BBC SSO and RSNO.  She is a member of Glisk string quartet and  is playing in the Stories of People and Trees project. A keen chamber musician, she has performed in Poland, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.

Mary Ward - viola
Mary Ward is originally from Belfast and started learning violin at the age of 10. After progressing though the Belfast, Ulster, and Irish youth orchestras she crossed the water study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She became a member of the second violins in The Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 2004. A notion to play more viola drew her back to study a masters in performance in 2008 which led to her being appointed a member of the viola section of the BBCSSO in 2010. Mary currently shares her time between Scottish Opera and BBC. Her viola is a fine instrument by the late Neil Ertz made in 2007. 

Marie Connell - cello
Marie Connell was born in Liverpool and studied cello and piano at the RSAMD. After gaining a B.A in Music Performance, she embarked upon a busy freelance career and joined the orchestra of Scottish Opera in 1988, becoming No.3 cello in 1997. Marie was a founding member of the Drake Ensemble, giving regular chamber music concerts in Glasgow. Marie teaches cello and piano to pupils aged 5-75, both in schools and privately, and also enjoys working as an accompanist to both instrumentalists and singers. Marie plays a cello made in Glasgow in 1910 by A. Smilie and Son.

Peter Fry - double bass
Born in Hampshire, Peter studied the double bass first with Barry Glynn, and then at the Royal College of Music with Michael Brittain. Upon leaving College in 1990 he joined the orchestra of Welsh National Opera, and in 2009 became a member of the Orchestra of Opera North, before being appointed section principal double bass in the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 2012.
Peter has performed in many countries around the world and has worked as guest principal bass with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC National Orchestras of Wales and Scotland, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.
In 2001 Peter formed a small chamber orchestra, the Vale of Glamorgan Ensemble, made up mainly from ex colleagues at WNO. The Ensemble performs regularly in Wales, has given two world premieres and has featured on the Welsh channel S4C.