Come and Play String Day Saturday 21 January 10-30pm to 4pm
We would love you to come and play with us. Conducted by Helen Harrison and coaching from Alexandra Stemp and Amanda Turner.
Alexandra Stemp (Violin)
Alexandra Stemp was born and grew up in Blackpool and began playing the violin aged 6. She had lessons formerly with Louise Latham and Clare Macfarlane and was a member of the Lancashire Students Training and Symphony Orchestras. Alexandra was leader of the Lancashire Students Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra for several years undertaking many foreign tours and performing as soloist on a number of occasions. She was also a soloist with various local amateur orchestras including the Blackpool Symphony Orchestra which she had been a member of since the age of 12.
Alexandra attended St Mary’s RC High School. After successfully auditioning for all the major music conservatoires, she accepted a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where her teachers were David Takeno and John Glickman. Whilst studying there she won a special commendation in the first year Concerto Prize and won first place in the Bach Prize.
After completing her degree Alexandra was invited to perform Messiaen’s St Francois D’Assise at the Salzburg Festival with the Halle Orchestra. She then went on to play with many other UK orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, Ulster, BBC Welsh, Welsh National Opera,Birmingham Royal Ballet and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras before taking a full time first violin position with the Halle in 2001. She was also a founder member of the Lancashire Sinfonietta where she was a principal player and more recently leader on several occasions.
In 2009 Alexandra left the Halle to resume her freelance career. She was leader of the Manchester Symphony Orchestra in their performances with the Imperial Ice Stars at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the most recent of which was Swan Lake on Ice. She is regularly invited to play principal 2nd Violin with the Halle and Royal Northern Sinfonia and is the 1st violinist of Mercury Strings, a string quartet who give recitals in the North West and are currently performing candlelit concerts in both Manchester and Liverpool Cathedrals over the summer months.
Over the years Alexandra has performed many solo recitals and chamber recitals both in Lancashire and across the country and also enjoys recording sessions and educational work.
Amanda Turner (Cello)
Amanda grew up on the Fylde and in her formative years was a member of various local ensembles including the Blackpool Symphony prior to her attending Trinity College of Music in London where she studied cello. Since graduating in 1990 she has enjoyed a very varied and active career as both a performer and teacher. As an orchestral player she has toured many countries and continents including tours to the USA, Europe and the Far East with the Bournemouth Symphony and BBC Philharmonic with a particularly notable highlight being a tour to Lapland which included Reindeer in the audience! She has played on many CD sessions and radio broadcasts as well as performing in some of the worlds greatest concert halls including the Royal Albert Hall ,Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw and the Musikverein. Currently she is a freelance cellist who performs regularly with various orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Concert Orchestra and English National Ballet as well as playing principal cello for the annual national Snowman Tour performing in cathedrals up and down the country for the past nine years.
Throughout her career Amanda has always been a passionate music educator and for over thirty years was the cello tutor for the Lancashire Youth Orchestras and has taken part in many education projects. She is the cello tutor at Stonyhurst College and also gives private lessons to students from age 5 to 91!
Helen Harrison (Conductor)
A warm, natural and communicative presence on the podium British conductor Helen Harrison inspires exciting and compelling performances from the artists she collaborates with from orchestras, opera companies and choirs.
Helen is the Music Director and Conductor for the Young Sinfonia, the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Youth Orchestra at the Sage Gateshead. She is a 2022/2023 Participant on the flagship programme for Women Conductors run by the Royal Philharmonic in partnership with the Royal Northern Sinfonia. She currently holds Music Director positions with the award-winning Blackpool Symphony Orchestra, Preston Opera and Lytham Choral.
Highlights of Helen’s recent guest conducting include the Royal Northern Sinfonia premiering ‘In the Swamp by the Light of the Moon’ and conducting ‘The Snowman’ live to film and their ‘In Harmony NE 10th Birthday Side by Side Celebration Concert, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, various concerts and events with Sinfonia Viva, Leeds Conservatoire, Northern Opera Group and Outreach Opera.
She regularly guest conducts and leads workshops for non-professional ensembles including Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra, Cobweb Orchestra and many others.
Helen is equally at home in the pit and her productions include La Boheme, Carmen, Macbeth, Norma, The Merry Widow, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Don Giovanni, In the Heights and West Side Story.
Helen read Music at Cambridge University and studied Conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music. She is coached and mentored by Jessica Cottis.
As a comprehensive school student brought up in Lancashire in the North of England Helen is passionate about everyone having access to the life changing opportunities that music can bring and alongside her own work serves as a board member for Orchestras Live to bring world class orchestras to new audiences.