Friday Lunchtime Concert - Music for Kenya String Quartet

Sam Parker – Violin

Sam Parker started learning the violin at the age of 4 at Ipswich Suzuki school and soon started a keen interest in chamber music. He attended Pro Corda chamber music course from the age of 9 as well as leading the National Youth String Orchestra for 3 years.

Sam left school for the University of Warwick where he gained a BSc in Mathematics. However he managed to fit in leading the university's orchestras and winning the university's concerto competition during this time. Having graduated Warwick in 2010, Sam gained entry to study for an MMus at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he continued to take principal positions in orchestras and small ensembles with notable performances at the Southbank Centre and Wigmore Hall. Achieving a distinction in his masters degree, Sam was accepted on to the Hallé/RNCM String Leadership course for 2013/14. He played with the Halle regularly during this time as well as being awarded the Charles Hallé award. Since graduating, Sam has trialled with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and is a regular freelance player with various orchestras and ensembles around Manchester and the Northwest.

Christina Knox - Violin

Christina was born in Glasgow, but moved to Manchester in 2005 to study on the joint course between the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music, from which she graduated with First Class Honours and the Hargreaves Prize. She completed a Masters course at the RNCM in October 2011, during which she was leader of the RNCM Symphony Orchestra. She still lives in Manchester, where she divides her time between performing and teaching. While studying, she received a Daughter of Dewar Award, enabling her to buy a John Stagg violin bow. She is also indebted to The Hope Scott Trust, the Scottish International Education Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council for their generous support. Christina has given a solo Bach recital in the Manchester International Festival, and she frequently plays with the Telemann Ensemble, with whom she has performed all the Bach violin concertos. She has played in masterclasses with Levon Chilingirian, Wen Xho Li and Yuri Torchinsky, and has given solo recitals around Glasgow and Manchester. During her masters degree, her quartet performed a work by Alexander Goehr in the Wigmore Hall. Music has led to some fantastic travel opportunities for Christina. Her string quartet was selected by the RNCM to take part in an exchange with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in Australia, and she spent a week in Mauritius as leader of the chamber orchestra Camerata Scotland. More recently, she has toured to China, Bucharest and Prague with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  She has also enjoyed touring around Wales with Sinfonia Cymru, and around England with Northern Ballet Sinfonia.

Joy Becker – Viola

Joy begged her mum to learn the violin after watching Tasmin Little in concert at the age of 5. She attended Chetham’s School of Music for three years, after which she joined the Junior Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Leland Chen, with whom she continued to learn throughout her degree at the RNCM. At the age of 14 Joy received Gold in Future Talent’s ‘Future Champions’ competition - founded by Katharine, Duchess of Kent - as a result of which she has performed in a number of wonderful venues and festivals including Hovingham Hall, the House of Lords and the Buckingham Palace, as well as an appearance with Katharine on the BBC News as a representative of Future Talent. A keen orchestral musician, Joy led the National Children’s Orchestra, the Halle Youth Orchestra and is a former member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. She graduated with first class honours from the RNCM in 2015, and during her time there enjoyed a leading a number of RNCM ensembles, highlights including the UK premiere of Penderecki's Seventh Symphony in the Bridgewater Hall conducted by the composer, and a performance of the Pulcinella Suite under Christian Curnyn. She is now pursuing her career as a violinist and violist and has recently been accepted onto the Hallé/RNCM String Leadership Scheme for the upcoming year. Joy also performs as a singer/songwriter at venues and festivals around the UK, and self-released her debut album"The Unspoken Word" in February 2015.

Alistair Howes - Cello

Originally from Luton Town, Alistair gained a place at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2009; studying with Gillian Thoday and Peter Dixon. Whilst at the RNCM Alistair won the first year cello prize, RNCM Nossek Prize and RNCM Schubert Prize. He also reached the final in both the RNCM concerto competition and the RNCM Sir John Barbirolli Cello Prize. In 2014 Alistair was awarded the Presidents Prize at The Bromsgrove International Young Musician Competition. Having Left College in 2014 Alistair now freelances with the BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Psappha ensemble, Sinfonia Cymru, and the Ulster Orchestra. Alistair plays on a 2014 English cello made by Tony Paddy. In his spare time Alistair enjoys playing cricket and is a keen triathlete.

The works will include composers such as Haydn, Piazzola & Debussy.