Ulster Youth Orchestra of Northern Ireland
Course Tutors
Make a donation

Course Tutors

Chris George - Rehearsal Conductor

Chris George was Leader of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with whom he appeared as director and soloist throughout Europe at major festivals.

He has also led and co-led the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and many others. Orchestras and chamber music groups have taken Chris all over the world with such artists as Murray Perahia, Joshua Bell, Christian Zacharias, Sir Charles Mackerras and Bernhard Haitink.

Having suffered from the neurological condition Focal Dystonia which hampered his violin playing, Chris now has more time to devote to conducting and teaching. He did a Masters in conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and recently conducted the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and toured the UK with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.Chris loves his teaching, coaching and conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, St Andrews University and with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.

Adrian Levine – First Violin Tutor

Born in London, Adrian Levine won a Junior Exhibition to the Royal College of Music at the age of 14. He later studied at the Royal Academy of Music where his teachers included Gyorgy Pauk, Sidney Griller and Emanuel Hurwitz.

Further study followed with members of the Amadeus Quartet for chamber music, a special study of the Janacek Quartets with the Janacek Quartet, and further violin studies with the great Polish virtuoso Henryk Szerying.

At the age of 24 he was appointed a first violinist in the English Chamber Orchestra, working with such artists as Daniel Barenboim, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pinchas Zuckerman and Isaac Stern.

After three years with the ECO, touring widely to such places as Hong Kong, the Caribbean, Europe and the USA, he left to become Leader of the Amphion String Quartet, taking residencies first at the Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire) then at the University of Liverpool.  With the Quartet he toured Europe, the Far East and the USA and made many broadcasts for the BBC.  During this period he also toured Korea and Hong Kong for the British Council.

In 1985, he was invited to become Co-Leader of the Academy of St Martin-in-the Fields. In his five years with the Academy he frequently appeared as soloist, leader and director, making many recordings and performing in the USA, Australia, Japan, Korea, Scandinavia and nearly every European country.

In 1990, he was invited to become Associate Leader of the Philharmonia Orchestra, where he led many international tours and concerts, including the famous Pavarotti in the Park open-air concert in Hyde Park, London, in 1991, televised throughout the world.

In 1992, he left the Philharmonia to accept a five year post as Leader of the Opera House of Rome at the invitation of Giuseppe Sinopoli.Adrian has worked as Guest Leader with such orchestras as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Northern Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Ballet, BBC Welsh and Welsh National Opera.

Since returning to work in London, Adrian has become much in demand as a teacher and chamber music coach. He was for four years on the faculty at the Yellow Barn Festival in Vermont, USA, and from 2002 to 2010 taught and performed at the International Musical Arts Institute in Maien, USA.

He was until 2004 Head of Strings at London's Centre for Young Musicians, and is now a Professor at the Royal College of Music in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Royal Society of Musicians. He is also on the staff at Chetham’s School, Manchester, where he teaches violin, viola and chamber music.  He plays a Petrus Guarneri violin made in Venice, c 1740.

“Adrian was inspirational and incredibly helpful in regards to the music and advice for the future and playing.”
2015 UYO member

Joanne Quigley – Second Violin Tutor

Violinist Joanne Quigley was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. She graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester in 1999 with a BMus hons and Professional Performance Diploma.

Upon graduation she was also awarded the Emily English prize for violin and the Granada Prize for Chamber Music. Joanne was the recipient of many other awards during her college days including the KPMG Martin Musical Scholarship and the Young Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Since then, Joanne has enjoyed a busy and varied career playing with many of the leading orchestras and ensembles in the UK and Ireland.  From 2003-2006, she was a member of the Northern Sinfonia and from 2006-2008 she was the co-leader of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin. On leaving that post, Joanne has been in demand as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. She has recently led the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has appeared at the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra.

Joanne performs regularly with her brother David and together they have appeared in recital throughout the UK, Ireland and abroad.   In 2008 they formed the Belfast Piano Trio with cellist Sasho Somov and performed to critical acclaim.

Joanne has broadcast as soloist and as a chamber musician for BBC, RTÉ and CBC radio.  She is a Performance Associate of the Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada and is the director of Newry Chamber Music, an organisation that provides world class chamber music concerts for the citizens of Joanne’s home town.

Stephen Tees – Viola Tutor

Stephen Tees was born in Scotland, and moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music. His past experience is wide, and very varied. Some examples are: professional string chamber music (travelling as far afield as Brazil, Japan and New Zealand); guest principal viola with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields; and working in the studio on films, television shows and in the pop world.Since 1989 Stephen has been principal viola with the City of London Sinfonia, with whom he has made 3 CD solo appearances on the Chandos label.

Lately he has also been involved in community work, leading workshops with the Homeless, Primary Children and the Elderly, and in the business world using music in management training. He is a professor of viola at Trinity College of Music.

“Steve Tees has been an amazing tutor.  He’s extremely enthusiastic, gives us so much useful stuff / advice / practise tips to take away with us and is always willing to help out or give more advice in the breaks”.  
UYO member 2015

Bozidar Vukotic- Cello Tutor

Bozidar Vukotic is the founder member of the Tippett String Quartet. Born in London, he studied as a Goldsmith Company Scholar with the protegé of the great Mistslav Rostropovich, Professor Stefan Popov, at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and was awarded the prestigious Premier Prix. He continued his studies with William Pleeth, teacher of the legendary Jacqueline du Pre, and completed his training with Alexeander Kniazev in Moscow with the aid of Wingate Trust and Hattori Foundation Scholarships.

A prize-winner in the National Federation of Music Societies and Jeunesses Musicales International Cello competitions, Bozidar has performed as a soloist in the UK, USA, France, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Serbia and Montenegro. He has also appeared on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and in 2010 he made his debut for EMI Classics as soloist on Howard Goodall’s ‘The Seasons’.

As a member of the Tippett Quartet, he performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Purcell Room, on BBC Radio 3 and has appeared at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal Opera House, Bridgewater Hall, the Sage Gateshead and at the BBC Proms. He has recorded extensively to much critical acclaim for Naxos, EMI Classics, Classic FM Records, Signum, Guild, Dutton Epoque and Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records. 2010 saw the Quartet’s highly successful debut in the Gramophone Classical Chart with their recordings of Bax and Bridge Piano Quintets.

Bozidar has been invited to play as guest principal with many of this country’s finest orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Spain's Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife.

“Boz is an amazing tutor as he’s so calming and thorough when going through the pieces.”
2015 UYO member

Ronan Dunne - Double Bass - Tutor

Ronan began his musical training as a chorister with the Palestrina Choir in Dublin's Pro-Cathedral. He then took up the double bass and, aged eighteen, went to study in London and then on to Vienna.           

He spent a couple of wonderful years touring Ireland as a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra before becoming a member of the BBC Philharmonic, where he has played since 2002 and was appointed Principal Bass in 2015.

As well as enjoying touring to Europe and the Far East, he is hugely enthusiastic about the wide variety of repertoire the orchestra performs each season.

As a guest principal bass, he plays regularly with Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Northern Sinfonia, The Hallé, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Opera North.        

As a chamber musician, he has enjoyed many interesting collaborations, with such quartets as the Voglers and the Callinas.

Ronan is passionate about teaching and bringing on the next generation of young bass players. He teaches, tutors and takes classes at the Royal Northern College of Music and has given masterclasses around Europe and most recently in Asia.

Denis Curlett – Brass Tutor

Denis Curlett is from Belfast, and left in 1968 to study at Trinity College of Music, London.  On leaving college, his career progressed and he became a member of 5 orchestras; Welsh National Opera, BBC Welsh, Halle, London Philharmonic and lastly Bournemouth Symphony.  During his time in London, he was an examiner for Trinity College and visiting tutor for the Royal College and London Colleges of Music.  His freelance work included London Brass.  He is now a regular tutor with the National Children’s Orchestra and European Youth Music, and he teaches a number of pupils.  He also continues to freelance as a player.

“Denis – really friendly and amazing musician.  Great work and enjoyment was had in sectionals.”
UYO member 2015

Meyrick Alexander – Woodwind Tutor

Before taking up his position as Head of Woodwind at RWCMD in 2010, Meyrick Alexander had held the position of Principal Bassoon in the Philharmonia Orchestra since 1980, before which he was a member of several leading orchestras including the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra and the Northern Sinfonia.

Meyrick is Principal Bassoon of the London Chamber Orchestra and has played period instruments with John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. He is a regular guest principal with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  He has performed extensively as a chamber musician and as a guest with nearly every British symphony and chamber orchestra, and is also a regular soloist at the annual International Double Reed Conference in the USA, Australia and the UK.

In contemporary music, he is the dedicatee of a number of solo works and has performed with the London Sinfonietta.  He has been a member of the teaching staff at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire, and the RNCM and he regularly gives masterclasses and recitals at all the leading conservatoires in Britain and several in Europe, Australia, USA and the Far East. He has also served on the jury on two major international competitions.Currently, Meyrick is involved in the creation of the I Culture Orchestra in Poland which consists of young musicians and draws its members from Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Armenia and Poland.

“Meyrick was not only very nice and patient but also provided great musical advice and direction.”
UYO member 2015

Chris Thomas – UYO Percussion Tutor

Born in Cardiff, Chris studied Timpani & Percussion at the Royal Academy of Music under Nicholas Cole and James Blades OBE. Whilst at the RAM he was awarded several percussion prizes as well as silver medal at the 1984 Shell / LSO Music Scholarship for Timpani & Percussion being “pipped to the post” that year by a young Evelyn Glennie who won the gold medal.

In 1988 he accepted the position of Principal Timpanist with the State Orchestra Rheinische Philharmonie in Koblenz, Germany where he stayed for 4 years before returning to the UK in 1992 to freelance.

Chris plays regularly with all of London’s Symphonic, Opera & Ballet Orchestras as well as many others in the UK and Ireland. He has played on many film soundtracks including Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 & 3 as well as several of the Harry Potter films.

Chris is also very active as a teacher and educator having coached several youth ensembles over the years including the Ulster Youth Orchestra, National Youth Brass Band of Wales, National Schools Symphony Orchestra as well as being regularly involved with the LSO Wind, Brass & Percussion Coaching Scheme at the RAM, RCM and GSMD in London.

In 2014 he accepted the post of Timpani & Percussion Teacher and Advisor to the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in Muscat, Oman where he now lives.

Tanya Houghton – Harp Tutor

Originally from Birmingham, Tanya studied in Cambridge, London and Paris before embarking on a freelance career based in the UK and Ireland. She enjoys playing for a wide range of ensembles from symphony orchestras to chamber groups, and accompanying soloists and choirs. Her recent orchestral work includes appearances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia and the RTE NSO in Dublin and she is principal harpist of the chamber orchestra Orchestra of the Swan. As a choral accompanist she is fortunate to have worked with composers and conductors including John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, David Hill and Graham Ross, with whom she has appeared on BBC Radio 3's 'In tune' programme and also features on his CD of music by Imogen Holst, recently nominated for a Gramophone award. The recording ‘A rose in the middle of winter’ in which she accompanies Commotio choir in music by Bob Chilcott reached the top of last year’s classical charts. Last year she played for Britten’s 100th birthday concert in Wigmore Hall, accompanying tenor Nicholas Mulroy, and works regularly as a recital accompanist for singers. Aside from playing, Tanya works as an examiner for both the ABRSM and the Royal Northern College of Music, and has adjudicated the harp class at the Bromley and Redhill & Reigate competitions. Also a singer, she directs and sings in Melisma, the Belfast-based 8 voice choir.

“Tanya was so lovely and such an excellent teacher.  Did not restrict the sectionals just to the course repertoire- shared information on general harp technique and repertoire.  She gave us flowers!”  
UYO member 2015

Brian Connor - Piano Tutor

Brian Connor is a pianist, music producer and orchestrator from Belfast, Northern Ireland. After completing studies with John O'Conor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music he launched a career that has included performance, musical direction, composition and production. He has worldwide experience performing in various genres, and in 2013 returned to Belfast to explore opportunities to work creatively with the arts community in Ireland.

In 2015 he gave performances of major works by Frederick Rzweski, John Cage and Ubi Gjeilo, and in May 2015 he gave the first performance of Shaun Davey's new song cycle 'Nora Barnacle' at the National Concert Hall, Dublin. 

For many years he has played piano, celesta and keyboards with the RTE Concert Orchestra, and he writes orchestrations and arrangements for many of their concerts. This year has also seen him in the recording studio with Julian Lloyd Webber, Dublin band Tupelo, and the Irish Film Orchestra with whom he has recorded various major film soundtracks. He performs chamber music with several long standing recital partners and has a special interest in vocal music, having accompanied solo performances with opera singer Danielle de Niese, jazz singer Claire Martin, Van Morrison, Michael Feinstein, Ute Lemper, Sinead O'Connor and many others.

Brian Connor has been Musical Director for theatre productions in London's West End, and on Broadway where he worked with Claude Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, and has been responsible for music in most of Ireland's major theatres resulting in his appointment as Musical Director of the Abbey Theatre's Centenary celebrations (The National Theatre of Ireland). He composed a continuous soundtrack for actress Diana Quick's groundbreaking translation and performance of Simone de Beauvoir's 'A Woman Destroyed'.In over twenty years as a producer he has worked on many Irish and European recordings, including Eleanor McEvoy's album 'Yola' (UK Hi Fi Album of the Year 2002) and Tom Roger Aadland's 'Blod Pa Spora', a reworking in Norwegian of Bob Dylan's 'Blood On the Tracks'.In 2016 he looks forward to producing a concert of music by the great Irish songwriter Christie Hennessy (for National Concert Hall, Dublin and Irish tour), and further collaboration with Belfast singer Suzanne Savage with whom he has performed, composed and recorded for many years.

Mike Purton - Horn Tutor


Mike is originally from Watford in Hertfordshire (he now lives in Kent) and studied Horn with the legendary Ifor James, becoming Principal Horn in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the age of 17. After graduating from the University of Surrey when he was 21 he was appointed Principal Horn in the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, where he stayed for 13 years, during which time he played as Guest Principal with many other orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, the LSO, the Philharmonia and Welsh National Opera. As well as orchestral playing, Mike performed as a concerto soloist many times and played regularly in the Hallé Brass and Wind Quintets and in other chamber music groups.

Between 1978 and 1991 Mike was Senior Horn Tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music from where many of his former students have entered the Music Profession at high level, both playing and teaching. During that time he directed the RNCM Horn Ensemble and took them to perform at several International Horn Society Festivals. Mike had to give up horn playing in 1986 due to a muscular problem and moved into education. Between 1991 and 1997 he was Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion at Trinity College of Music and two years ago retired as Principal of Bromley Youth Music Trust. For the last 25 years he has also worked as a recording producer and editor and has made many professional CD recordings including a number with Michael Thompson and Stephen Stirling. Mike also teaches and conducts regularly, two years ago having had the honour of conducting the National Children’s Orchestra Under 12s Orchestra for a residential course and a concert in Birmingham Town Hall.

Working with talented young players is something Mike really enjoys, helping to achieve the highest possible standards.

[ back to top ]