SARAH SMITH was born and educated in Swansea, South Wales. She started playing the piano and violin at an early age, performing in many local concerts and festivals (including the AFYM), and winning several awards and prizes. As a pianist, she was a finalist in the Texaco Young Musician of Wales competition, performing on national television and radio. Sarah studied at Cardiff University, graduating with a first-class BMus (Hons) degree before progressing to Royal Holloway, University of London, where she gained a Distinction in a Masters degree in Performance Studies. A PhD followed (also at Royal Holloway) on performance-related issues in Scriabin’s piano music. For numerous years, Sarah has taught piano, both privately and at the Junior Department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Sarah is an Examiner for ABRSM, both in the UK and internationally. She is also a Senior Lecturer in Music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she teaches widely on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and has overall responsibility for a number of courses including aural training, undergraduate dissertations and generic instrumental teaching skills.
Studied violin at the Centre for Young Musicians, Pimlico, with Deryck Wareing, Henry Rubin and Eva Graubin, and continued to study with the latter while he was at the Royal Academy of Music, at Surrey University and as a postgraduate in Barcelona.
Christopher has played as recitalist, chamber musician and freelancer throughout the UK, Europe and South Africa where he has broadcast on SABC. Pianists with whom he has worked are John Lenehan, Peter O’Hagan and Richard Ormrod. He has worked extensively with the New London Orchestra, London String Ensemble and Welsh Chamber Orchestra as well as with many other chamber and symphony orchestras.
He performs a wide-ranging repertoire and over the last few years has given the UK premières of the works for violin and piano by Lithuanian composer Juozas Gruodis (1884-1948) whose music remains virtually unknown outside his native country. A CD of these compositions with pianist John Lenehan on the Discovery Music and Vision label was released in 2014 and a new Lithuanian edition of the sonata which he edited was published in 2016. Amongst his concerts this season, he was invited to perform at the Second London Baltic Music Festival in December last year.
Christopher was invited to teach at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 1999 and was Deputy Head of Strings from 2000-2009. He teaches at the Junior Conservatoire, RWCMD, at HMSG and MS Monmouth, and privately. He adjudicates at music festivals and competitions around the UK and overseas and is a Classical and Jazz Examiner for Trinity College London.
Sheila Smith has, throughout her career as a violinist, maintained a lively interest in young musicians. After attaining a degree in performance at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama she was appointed by The Menuhin Foundation of Bermuda to teach young players of mixed ages and abilities. On her return to the UK she was a member of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Teaching appointments in Scotland included teaching in The Scottish Academy of Music in the junior dept., the teaching of music degree students at Glasgow University, and in the Specialist music dept. at both junior and senior level in Edinburgh’s schools for musically gifted children. In 1998 Sheila Smith emigrated to Malaysia to be one of the founder members of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Part of the orchestra’s remit is to encourage and educate people of all ages in the appreciation and performance of Classical music. Ms. Smith’s role was the creation of music clubs for young people. In 2003 on her return to the UK Sheila Smith held various teaching positions within both Essex and Hertfordshire including the revamping of a struggling music school in Harlow. Sheila Smith has, since 2004, been performing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and has a growing number of private violin students.
An inspiration for teachers and pupils alike, Pam Wedgwood’s music has been a staple diet for young musicians throughout the world for almost twenty years. Pam’s musical career began with the recorder and piano, and Tenor Horn and Euphonium through the brass band tradition at her school. She then took up the Cello and French Horn, entering Trinity College of Music in London to study Piano, Horn, Cello and composition at the age of sixteen.
After graduating she began a career as a professional French Horn player, working with the Royal Ballet Touring Orchestra, The Royal Opera, the BBC Concert Orchestra and many West End shows. Marriage and a young family led her to take up an appointment as a peripatetic instrumental music teacher in Surrey in the late 1970s, and she began composing pieces for her pupils. In the UK she has led many workshops for the European Piano Teachers’ Association and has inspired teachers in workshops as far afield as Singapore and Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
Pam now concentrates on composing and teaching, though she is also a keen sportswoman and international traveller!
Gerard McChrystal comes from Derry, N.Ireland. He studied in Manchester, London and Chicago. Gerard has performed in 30 countries including USA, South Africa, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Korea and Germany. He has recorded albums with BBC NOW, Ulster Orchestra, London Musici, guitarist Craig Ogden, The Smith Quartet, Yan Pascal Tortelier and record labels include Chandos, Signum Records and Silva Screen.
He has developed a repertoire of accessible new works, often with a celtic influence some of which have been published in his saxophone series by Camden Music, London. Orchestras Gerard has worked with include Philharmonia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, National Symphony of Ireland, Stuttgart Staatsorchester and the Orchestra of San Francisco Ballet. Venues include San Francisco Opera House, Baku Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, St David’s Hall, Cardiff, National Concert Hall, Dublin and a long hut in Sarawak, Borneo. He has worked with Philip Glass, The Smith Quartet, guitarist Craig Ogden, percussionists Ensemble Bash, pianist Joanna McGregor, Graham Fitkin, tenorist Tommy Smith and vocal groups Anuna and Codetta. Gerard is Professor of Saxophone at Trinity College of Music, London. He is endorsed by Rico.
Neil is a freelance saxophone, clarinet and flute player who is active performing, teaching, directing and writing. Based in London, he has performed with ensembles across the UK, including the Northern Chamber Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Apollo Saxophone Orchestra, National Musicians’ Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Concert Orchestra and Sax Assault. He specialises in chamber music and has performed and recorded with various groups at concert halls and festivals around Europe.
After initially studying clarinet, Neil became the first ever principal-study saxophonist to graduate from The University of Manchester. He then went on to study with Rob Buckland at the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating in 2001. During this time he won awards from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Hattori Foundation, Proctor-Gregg Prize, Trevor Wye prize for chamber music and was a semi-finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Musician competition.
Neil is passionate about music education. He is Head of Woodwind at one of the UK’s leading secondary schools for music – Dame Alice Owen’s School, Hertfordshire. He also directs courses for the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and Benslow Music. He is a woodwind adjudicator for the Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival, and has written for Music Teacher magazine. Neil has taught, examined or given classes at many institutions including: Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music, Junior Guildhall, The University of Manchester, Westminster School, Haileybury, Highgate School and Ampleforth College.
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The Distinguished Musicians who have adjudicated at AFYM…
Vanessa Latarche* | Richard McMahon | Graeme Humphrey | Simon Nicholls | James Lisney* | Frank Wibaut* | Tom Poster* | Gordon Back* | Juilet Edwards* | Christine Stevenson | Christopher Horner | Patricia Kier | Zoe Smith
Paul Sanders | David Campbell* | Robert Codd | Neil Black* | Martin Gatt | Emma Williams* | Christopher Vale | Paul Harris* | Peter Fielding
Rebecca Jones | Erika Klemperer | Luciano Iorio | Diana Cummings* | Harry Cawood | Lucy Gould* | John Senter | Peter Esswood | Valerie Aldrich-Smith | Beate Toyka | Hannah Stone
Gerard McCrystal | Kevin Price | Zoe Smith | Anthony Williams | Huw Tregelles Williams | Alun John | Peter Hewitt
*Denotes adjudicator who has given a Masterclass as part of AFYM.