The Players

Frances Barrett

Frances grew up with musical parents and had many opportunities to learn about music. Her first lessons were with her father who was an amateur bass player. He had already discovered the glories of the viola and so didn't start her first on the violin. She attended the County Youth Orchestras in Cambridge, and having got keen went on to study at Cambridge Tech and then the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with that excellent of teachers Nannie Jamieson.

Years later she was delighted to meet the viola soloist and exceptional teacher Matthew Jones. She has occasional lessons from him, and says she is now almost mature enough to take on board some of his wisdoms!

Her teaching includes working with Adults with Learning Disabilities, music appreciation and viola. She also finds time to play in local amateur orchestras on both viola and tuned percussion.

David Lawes

David began to learn the viola in his mid teens with John White of the Alberni String Quartet. He continued to develop his musical interests in Harlow, graduating to the Essex Youth Orchestra, before devoting himself to cartography in Newcastle. Later, moving to London, after several years in and around Cardiff, where he played more often those even more unjustly under-rated instruments than the viola, recorders, he developed an interest in sacred choral music, singing especially with the Lewisham Choral Society, before rediscovering the viola, which he is playing more and more, especially since acquiring an instrument made by Dennis Boston of Bristol.

Kathy Reed

Kathy's musical education began when she was about four when her mother bravely taught her the recorder. She graduated to the violin aged seven but it was not until the advanced age of eighteen that she finally saw the light and picked up a viola for the first time. Needless to say she has not looked back since that defining moment and is enjoying the rediscovery of orchestral favourites from her youth orchestra days, but in a different clef. She particularly enjoys playing chamber music, especially the works of Haydn who lets the first violin do almost all the hard work. A quartet of violas provides no such easy option. Kathy's viola was made by Hans Pluhar.

David Brooker

David has enjoyed a dual career as both player and teacher since graduating in music from the University of East Anglia and, as a specialist in period instrument performance, from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Using renaissance, baroque and classical instruments, his discography includes over 100 CDs of repertoire ranging from Arne to Zelenka. As a teacher David specialises in orchestral training, including conducting a youth orchestra, and teaching violin to whole classes of primary school children as part of the "Wider Opportunities" programme. His publications currently include two volumes of the "Stringplay" series of easy arrangements, and he is working on a text book on string teaching. His new playing "hobby" of the viola quartet has been a late and very enjoyable discovery for him, relishing the change from the hierarchy of the normal string quartet and exploring the varied, intriguing and challenging new repertoire it presents.