Alumni Series - see where our past members are now!

We are excited to announce our very first Alumni Series.

Interviews with past members of our County Music Groups will be launched every fortnight, on our Social Media channels. Find out who will be involved below.

Ben Parry (Episode 1 - 2/12/22) 

Ben's career has seen him take on the roles of Director of Music at St Paul's School and the Junior Royal Academy of Music in London, as well as Assistant Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge. 

He has worked closely with Sir Paul McCartney as well as conducting on the soundtracks of major films such as The Hobbit, Avengers & Harry Potter. 

Ben is currently the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and Director of the professional choir 'London Voices'.

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Nathan Austin (Episode 2 - 16/12/22)

Nathan is a Double Bass, Percussion and Brass player, currently studying for a Bachelor of Music in Performance at the University of Huddersfield. 

He is also a stage technician and a former Hesse Student at Britten Pears Arts. 


Sam Taber (Episode 3 - 30/12/22)

Sam started playing Trombone at the age of 10. He attended the Junior Guildhall of Music and Drama at weekends and from there he gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London. 

He is now a professional Trombone player, currently playing Bass Trombone in the South Danish Symphony Orchestra.           

Royal Academy of Music

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Caroline Clarke (Episode 4 - 13/01/23)

Caroline is a professional freelance violinist who performed with the celebrated Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden for over a decade.

She works with Wigmore Hall and Aldeburgh Music delivering music projects to people living with dementia, as well as their carers.

In East Anglia she provides one-on-one violin tuition for all ages and abilities.

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Isaac Barrow (Episode 5 - 27/1/23)

Isaac is a recent graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, studying oboe with Steve Hudson, Amy McKean, John Anderson and Sarah-Jayne Porsmouger (cor anglais).

In the last couple of years, he has worked with a number of arts organisations and has just started a new role at the Welsh National Opera (WNO) as their Development Assistant.

He also runs a small community orchestra, the Cardiff Chamber Orchestra.

Welsh National Opera           Cardiff Chamber Orchestra

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Vicky James (Episode 6 - 10/3/23)

Vicky is the Orchestra Manager for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales having recently been promoted from the role of Assistant Orchestra Manager. 

Her previous roles include Concerts Assistant and Projects Coordinator with Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead. 

She is also Co Chair of Suffolk SMART (Suffolk Music and Arts Alumni Trust) which provides funding to help Suffolk's young people access high quality music and arts opportunities. 

BBC NOW             Suffolk SMART            Royal Northern Sinfonia

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James Symington (Episode 7 - 17/3/23)

James is currently the student bandmaster at the Royal Military School of Music for the British Army. 

British Army

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Andi Hopgood (Episode 8 - 10/02/23)

Andi is a respected musician, vocalist and tutor having graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2005. She has performed all over the UK, Europe and USA. 

Alongside her solo work she has worked with London Vocal Project led by Pete Churchill, blues and soul band Hoppi and the Hopefuls, a jazz duo with pianist Jim Watson, and trio with saxophonist Martin Hathaway.

She is also a vocal tutor at Anglia Ruskin University and leads choirs including Suffolk Soul Singers, Hart and Soul Choir and the Cambridge Jazz Festival Choir. 

Andi is also an active member of the Musicians Union (MU)

Andi Hopgood Website        London Vocal Project           Suffolk Soul Singers         Musicians Union

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Ross Power (Episode 9 part 1 31/3/23) (Episode 9 part 2 31/3/23)

Ross is a film/TV composer, sound designer, music producer, session musician, musical director and an arranger. 

He is best known for his work with Micky Flanagan, Matt Lucas, Jim Cartwright, Sarah Parish and Paul Abbott (BBC, ITV, C4, Sky). He has scored a number of short and feature length films including Carnaby International/Signature’s Rise of the Footsoldier - Origins as well as an award-winning selection of independent films and commissions in collaboration with internationally acclaimed orchestras (RPO, Philharmonia) and brands (Carling, Grolsch, Mazda, Volvo).

More recently, epic commercials for Carling, Virgin Trains and Jaguar Land Rover put Ross on the map landing him the music gig for Iceland /Gino Decampo’s Real Italian Food and writing the piano foley for the John Lewis ‘Elton John’ Christmas commercial. 

Ross is also Co-Director of UK Soul Choirs and co-runs an entertainment agency providing entertainment for high-end events. 

Ross Power Website         Soul Choirs


Katie Smith (Episode 10)

Katie is a construction management trainee.

She is an ex Flautist of Suffolk Youth Orchestra and has said the following about what music has given her:

"It may be a bit cliché, but music really has allowed me to become the person I am today. I've grown in confidence, learnt life lessons and experienced joyous, unforgettable moments through music; and to top it off, introduced me to some of my closest friends"

Barnes construction

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David Lale (Episode 11 - 12/5/23)

David is a Cellist for the London Philharmonic Orchestra and is also a successful composer, arranger and producer of music for TV, Film and Adverts, with multiple placements and releases.

He also works regularly for the main London session orchestras, including Isobel Griffiths and the London Contemporary Orchestra, recording movie, tv and video game soundtracks.

London Philharmonic Orchestra         London Contemporary Orchestra


Elizabeth (Lily) Rayner (Episode 12) 

Lily is a Cellist, in her second year studying BMus with a year's study abroad at Cardiff University. With many performances under her belt, and as tour coordinator for the University Jazz Society,  she specialises in performance and orchestral management. 

Having joined Ipswich County Music School (Suffolk County Music Service) on violin at the age of seven, and subsequently switched to cello, she later spent eight years in the Suffolk County Music Group programme, giving her a passion for music and making life-long friends.'

Cardiff University

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Steph Wakeman (Episode 13 - 14/4/23

Steph is a musician, educator and community artist living and working in Suffolk. She is vocal lead for the Eyke Music Programme and works for Britten Pears Arts delivering community workshops and programmes to all ages across the county.

She also works as a freelance musician performing on cello, piano and voice, she has run her own community choir in Ipswich for the past 10 years and is the current conductor of Suffolk Young Strings.

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Emma Mordue (Episode 14)

Emma is a musician, educator and street performer with the Kentwell Players (A group of travelling historical and mythical players, offering performance, workshops, music, dance, static and walkabout for schools and museums and festivals). 

Kentwell Players (Facebook)          Kentwell Players (Twitter)

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Kara Reed (Episode 15 - 5/5/23)

Kara is a charity administrator and a freelance concert manager and project manager for Britten Pears Arts. 

Previously she also did a lot of work as an editor/proof-reader for a classical record company. 

Britten Pears Arts

Lottie Beattie (Episode 16 - 08/6/23

Lottie B is a freelance jazz saxophonist. She has performed both in the UK and internationally in many top class venues including The Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club main stage and the 100 Club. 

She is currently working on a solo album and is a regular guest with the UK's number 1 Jive and Swing Band 'The Jive Aces'. 

Lottie B Website           Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club          Jive Aces

Ben Palmer (Episode 17)

Formerly principal trumpet of Suffolk Youth Orchestra, Ben Palmer is Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck and Babylon Orchester Berlin, and Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia.

Debuts this season include the Aalborg, Antwerp, London and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, and at the BBC Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Personally authorised by John Williams to conduct his film scores in concert, and acclaimed by Hans Zimmer as "a masterclass in conducting", he is one of Europe's most sought-after specialists in conducting live to picture.

Ben Palmer        Covent Garden Sinfonia

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