Pixels Ensemble is a collective of established chamber music players with a shared passion for performing the finest repertoire, from the classical period to the present day. Vastly experienced and versatile, the group appears in a wide range of combinations and line-ups, lending itself to innovative programming and enabling huge variety within individual concerts.
Jonathan Aasgaard, cello
Jonathan Aasgaard was a gold medal finalist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and enjoys a busy concert career, participating in festivals as diverse as Bergen, Evian, Prague, Washington, the Manchester Cello Festival and the BBC Lutosławski Festival. In 1999 he was appointed Principal Cello of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and made his debut with the orchestra in Haydn’s Concerto in D. Since then he has performed more than 30 works for cello and orchestra with the RLPO. He frequently appears as Principal Cello in the John Wilson Orchestra. Chamber music collaborations have taken him around Europe, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea and the USA, appearing alongside violinists Nigel Kennedy, Henning Kraggerud and Julian Rachlin, cellists Yo Yo Ma, Christian Poltera and Giovanni Sollima and clarinettist Martin Fröst. Recordings include From Jewish Life with the RLPO and Gerard Schwarz, Brahms cello sonatas with Martin Roscoe, and a disc of music for cello and orchestra by Carl Davis with the Philharmonia. Jonathan has given first performances of works by Robert Saxton, Simon Bainbridge and Arne Nordheim, and recent premieres include Carl Davis' Ballade for cello and orchestra, the European premiere of Sollima’s Antidotum Tarantulae XXI (Concerto for two cellos) and the US premieres of concertos by Franz Neruda and Emil Hartmann.
Ian Buckle, piano
Ian Buckle maintains a varied freelance career working as soloist, accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist and teacher. He enjoys especially strong relationships with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the John Wilson Orchestra, having appeared with them as soloist on numerous occasions; and has also played concertos with the Royal Philharmonic, Opera North, Sinfonia Viva and the Manchester Concert Orchestra. Committed to contemporary music, he has been the pianist in Ensemble 10/10 since the group’s inception, and his piano duo with Richard Casey specialises in music from the last and current centuries. He frequently collaborates with former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion performing recitals of piano music and poetry, recent programmes including Shropshire and Other Lads, a celebration of A. E. Housman; Anthem for Doomed Youth, a commemoration of World War One; and Philip Larkin’s England. He is a member of both the piano-and-wind ensemble Zephyr and the Elysnan Horn Trio, formed when the group were students at the Royal Northern College of Music; and is the director and pianist of Pixels Ensemble. Current CD releases include transcriptions for cello and piano with Jonathan Aasgaard, a recital of new works for clarinet and piano with former BBC Young Musician winner Mark Simpson, and a disc of English music with clarinettist Nicholas Cox.
Fiona Fulton, flute
Fiona Fulton began studying the flute at the Music School of Douglas Academy near Glasgow before moving to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She won scholarships from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Sir James Caird Travelling Scholarships Trust to continue as a postgraduate, and she won the Laurie Kennedy Memorial Prize for her final recital. Fiona was a member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2016. During her time with the orchestra she played on Vasily Petrenko's recordings of the complete Shostakovich and Rachmaninov Symphonies, and can be heard playing solo alto flute on the Jon Lord album To Notice Such Things. She has also played with many orchestras in the UK and abroad, most recently appearing as Guest Principal Flute with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Hallé and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. As a soloist Fiona has given recitals in many of the country’s most prestigious festivals including Edinburgh, Hampstead and Highgate, Stratford-upon-Avon, Chipping Camden and at Saint Martin in the Fields. A keen and versatile chamber musician, she has appeared many times with the Hebrides Ensemble and Ensemble 10/10. Fiona teaches at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester and tutors the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.
Ben Hackbarth, electronics
Ben Hackbarth composes music for instruments and electronic sound, and is the director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Composition and Technology, the Artistic Director of the Open Circuit Festival and the Head of Composition at the University of Liverpool. He has been named composer in research at IRCAM on three occasions, developing software for electro-acoustic composition. His research interests centre around the intersection of musical intuition and computer analysis. Ben was affiliated with the Center for Research and Computing in the Arts at San Diego, and a Sonic Arts Researcher at CalIT2. He has had residencies at Cité des Arts, Centre Internationale de Récollets, Akademie Schloss Solitude and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In addition to writing concert music, he collaborates with other artists to create multimedia installations with realtime graphics, sound and motion tracking. Notable performances include those by the Arditti String Quartet, Ensemble InterContemporain, the New York New Music Ensemble, the L.A. Percussion Quartet and the Wet Ink Ensemble. His work has been presented in venues such as Cité de la Musique in Paris, the MATA festival in New York, the Florida Electro-acoustic Music Festival, the Ingenuity Festival in Cleveland and Espace de Projection at IRCAM. Ben’s music can be heard on CD releases by the Carrier Records and EMF labels.
Thelma Handy, violin
Thelma Handy was appointed Joint Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and has directed the orchestra and appeared as soloist on many occasions. Previously she toured worldwide as a member of the English Chamber Orchestra and worked extensively with the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, the London Mozart Players and the London Symphony Orchestra. She has made guest appearances as Leader with many orchestras including the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, City of Birmingham Symphony, Manchester Camerata and the Real Filharmonía de Galicia. Recent solo performances include concertos by Glazunov, Sibelius, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Khatchaturian, Brahms; and Mozart’s Concerto no 5 with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra as part of a tour of Australia. She has worked in Japan with the Mito Chamber Orchestra and in France with the baroque chamber ensemble Orfeo 55, and is in frequent demand as a chamber music collaborator, most recently giving concerts with Catrin Finch, Julian Rachlin and directing an RLPO string ensemble in Mendelssohn’s Octet. She regularly plays in Ensemble 10/10, with whom she has premiered numerous new works and made several recordings, leading the group in performances nationwide including at Wigmore Hall and on BBC Radio 3. In 2017 Thelma was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool.
Alex Holladay, cello
Alex Holladay was Head Chorister at Portsmouth Cathedral and read Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He was a prizewinner in the university concerto competition, performing Brahms' Concerto for violin and cello in West Road Concert Hall; and a recipient of a university Instrumental Award, co-founding the Lawson Piano Trio which went on to become Junior Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music. The trio appeared at festivals and music societies nationwide, including performances at the Purcell Room and on BBC Radio 3; and became Associate Ensemble to the Chamber Music 2000 contemporary music initiative. In 2000 Alex was invited to perform Schubert's String Quintet with the principals of London Mozart Players in the inaugural Portsmouth Festivities. He joined the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and has also been invited to play with the Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras and the BBC Philharmonic. He frequently works with the Aurora Orchestra, recently appearing as Principal Cello in the BBC Proms. Alex teaches at the University of Liverpool, has taught at the Oxford Cello School and has coached the cello sections of Liverpool Philharmonic Youth and Cheshire Youth Orchestras. He is a visiting musician with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and regularly leads early-years workshops with children across Merseyside.
Timothy Jackson, horn
Timothy Jackson was a member of both the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Philharmonia Orchestra, before joining the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Horn in 2011. He has appeared as soloist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the Philharmonia and the RLPO. Much in demand as a period instrument horn player, both in the UK and abroad, he was soloist in a Gramophone Award-winning recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no 1, directed by Trevor Pinnock. He has performed on numerous film soundtracks, including the Harry Potter and Star Wars series. As a chamber musician he has performed with the Alison Balsom Brass Quintet, Configure8, the Endymion Ensemble, the Galliard Ensemble; and has been a member of the Marais Ensemble since 2003. He also enjoys playing jazz, both with his own quartet and with groups such as the Creative Jazz Orchestra and the BBC Big Band. Timothy is Composer-in-Association with Onyx Brass, and has received commissions from the Academy of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, the Alison Balsom Ensemble, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé and the Philharmonia. His pieces have been played all over the world in venues including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Hollywood Bowl, Vienna’s Musikverein and the Sydney Opera House.
Sophie Rosa, violin
Sophie Rosa was a finalist in the 2006 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, was First Prize winner of the 2008 Lions European Music Competition in Cannes, and was awarded the Second Prize and Audience Prize at the 2011 Manchester International Violin Competition. She is a recipient of the RNCM Gold Medal, the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal and the Ian Fleming Charitable Trust Award. She has given recitals in the Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, Wigmore Hall and Bridgewater Hall, has played concertos with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Manchester Camerata; and has performed in the Chester Music Festival, the Manchester Mid-day Concerts, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the Aurora Festival in Sweden. As chamber musician Sophie has collaborated with Martin Roscoe, Nobuko Imai, Craig Ogden and James Gilchrist; and performs with the contemporary music ensemble Psappha. Rêve d’Enfant, her debut album with pianist Ben Powell, was released in 2016 on the Champs Hill Records label; and a CD of English music for two violins and piano with Midori Komachi and Simon Callaghan is due for imminent release on EM Records. Sophie plays a Joseph Gagliano violin dated 1795, with a Fonclause bow made available through the generous support of the Stradivari Trust.
Mark Simpson, clarinet
In 2006, aged 17, Mark Simpson became the first ever winner of both the BBC Young Musician and BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer of the Year Competitions and is now emerged as a major new voice, both as clarinettist and composer. He enjoys a full publishing relationship with Boosey & Hawkes, and in 2015 was appointed Composer in Association with the BBC Philharmonic, a position he will hold for four years. Mark’s recent commissions include Israfel for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and The Immortal, a 35-minute oratorio commissioned with support from Sky Arts Futures Fund and IdeasTap, premiered by the BBC Philharmonic. Other recent commissions have been premiered at the Last Night of the Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, at Opera North, and at the Royal Albert Hall by the National Youth Choirs. As a clarinettist Mark is a passionate exponent of new music, having performed and recorded Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and John Adams’s Gnarly Buttons with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He performed the Nielsen Concerto at the 2015 BBC Proms with the BBC SO and Sir Andrew Davis. Recital appearances have included the Royal Festival Hall, the Sage Gateshead, and at festivals including Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bonn Beethovenfest, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Trasimeno, Lammermuir and Spitalfields, with premieres of works by Simon Holt, Jonathan Harvey and Edmund Finnis.
Vicci Wardman, viola
Vicci Wardman is established as one of the most in-demand and versatile violists of her generation. She was a finalist in BBC TV’s Young Musician of the Year while a student at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and was a founder-member of the Sorrel String Quartet which began life at the Royal Northern College of Music and went on to enjoy a busy international career, releasing several award-winning recordings on the Chandos label. On leaving the quartet in 2000, she took up the position of Principal Viola in the Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom she also appeared as soloist. She regularly performs as Guest Principal in a variety of orchestras, including the English Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and London Sinfonietta. A committed and sought-after chamber musician, she is currently a member of Mobius and the Eroica Quartet, which is especially interested in research into performance practice; and has worked extensively with Hausmusik London and the Nash Ensemble. Vicci is currently Joint Principal Viola in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Viola in the John Wilson Orchestra. She is also active as a session musician in London and can be heard as a soloist on many film and TV soundtracks including scores by Murray Gold, James Horner and Ennio Morricone.
Hugh Webb, harp
Hugh Webb was Principal Harp in the Philharmonia Orchestra from 2001 to 2012. He has worked extensively in contemporary music and has had pieces written for him with support from Arts Council England by Javier Alvarez, Robert Keely, Paul Archbold and Ian Dearden. Recent CD releases include Bax’s Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet with the Academy of St Martin’s Chamber Ensemble, a disc of solo and chamber music by Nino Rota, a CD of French Renaissance songs with the medieval group Joglaresa, the complete Sonatas for violin and harp by Spohr and Bax’s Fantasy Sonata. He gave the first performance of Cyril Scott’s Celtic Rhapsody as part of Sidonie Goossens’ 100th Birthday Celebrations at Wigmore Hall in 1999. Hugh also performs as a jazz harpist and has given recitals at the European Harp Symposium and the World Harp Congress. He is active in the commercial world of television, film and popular music, and has composed music for a show for children based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. He has given numerous masterclasses throughout the country and has lectured at the Royal Academy of Music, the Paris Conservatoire and the Sweelinck Conservatoire in Amsterdam. Hugh now freelances with all the major London orchestras and frequently appears as Principal Harp in the John Wilson Orchestra.