About Strings at Guildhall
Violin | Viola | Cello | Double Bass | Guitar | Harp
Individual lessons and masterclasses • Chamber music • Orchestra • String Ensemble
The Department of Stringed Instruments emphasises individual tuition underpinned by intensive chamber coaching and orchestral training, and will prepare you for an exciting and rewarding future in all areas of the profession.
Led by Louise Hopkins, the Department is supported by a staff of pre-eminent world-class performers and professors who share a passion to guide and support the talented, curious musicians that enter Guildhall School. Guildhall Strings alumni are members of leading chamber ensembles and orchestras internationally, and many are among the most sought-after string performers and teachers, including Imogen Barford as Head of Harp and Robert Brightmore as Head of Guitar, with David Takeno as the School’s first International Chair of Violin.
Recent visitors include Christian Tetzlaff, Ettore Causa, Gordan Nikolic, Nobuko Imai, Bruno Giuranna, Donald Weilerstein, Thomas Riebl, Janine Jansen, Leonidas Kavakos, DaXun Zhang, Midori; principal players of the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, Leipzig Gewandhaus and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras, and the New York Philharmonic; members of the Emerson, Takacs, Brentano, Endellion and Danish String Quartets.
The Harp Department combines individual teaching of the highest calibre with a stimulating and extensive course of study for harpists. Work in weekly classes covers every aspect of harp playing, including orchestral, chamber music, practising and teaching skills, jazz and improvisation, contemporary musicianship, light music, historically-informed style, and contextual studies.
The Guitar Department offers comprehensive training at the highest level in both solo and chamber music performance. The central part of the programme is the solo repertoire of the last four centuries. During the second year students take theorbo lessons which lead to continuo work. And in Year 3 and 4 chamber music and concerto playing are essential parts of the syllabus.
Watch the video
Find out more about Strings training at Guildhall from our students and staff in the video below.
Strings contact details
Liam Donegan, Strings Department Manager
Tel: 020 7382 7392
Imogen Barford, Head of Harp
Performance is a core component of the Strings Principal Study pathway, with regular opportunities to play in public solo and chamber music concerts.
Students receive at least 45 hours of individual lessons a year. Intensive chamber music coaching is central to the Department’s ethos and is available to all string players.
Read more about the broader BMus programme structure.
Read more about our our Guildhall Artist Masters (MMus/MPerf) in Performance. In Strings, there are two main pathways: Orchestral Artistry (in association with the London Symphony Orchestra) and Advanced Instrumental Studies.
Orchestral Artistry in association with the London Symphony Orchestra
Find out details of this exciting specialism.
Advanced Instrumental Studies
This specialism is for talented students to develop their individual artistic voice with a particular focus on selected repertoire, whether solo or chamber music, early or contemporary music – with or without the inclusion of orchestral repertoire.
Read more about our our Guildhall Artist Masters (MMus/MPerf) in Performance.
Orchestral Artistry in association with the London Symphony Orchestra
Find out details of this exciting specialism for bowed strings players.
Advanced Instrumental Studies
This specialism is for players wishing to focus intensively on instrumental and musical progression, and offers a high number of contact hours in individual lessons with your Principal Study professor. It includes an optional Chamber Music elective and a range of chamber music performance opportunities, as this is a primary focus within the School. A broad variety of orchestral projects (opera, chamber, symphony, new music, historical performance) provide exploration of a wide variety of techniques and styles.
This specialism focuses on the development of core chamber music skills. Regular coaching is provided by a mixture of departmental staff and visiting artists. The specialism is designed for individuals and existing groups with considerable chamber music experience, with the aim of developing students’ skills to a professional level.
Training & Performances
Chamber Music at Guildhall School
Creating an Opera Double Bill at Guildhall
Orchestral Artistry at the Guildhall School
Activities & Ensembles
- Principal Study lessons
- Intensive chamber music coaching (inter- and cross-departmental)
- Public solo and chamber music concerts
- Solo and chamber music competitions
- Mock orchestral auditions
- Participation in New Music Ensemble (by audition)
- Second Study (by audition)
- Repertoire orchestra
- Side-by-side reading sessions with members of professional orchestras
- Studio orchestra
- Chamber and Symphony Orchestra projects, with orchestra sectional rehearsals led by London Symphony Orchestra players
- String Labs and Professor Platform lecture/workshop series, featuring a broad range of topics
- Internal performance platforms designed to enhance performance and boost confidence
- Solo, chamber and orchestral masterclasses
- Jazz, Early and Contemporary Harp
- Harp Teaching Skills
- Strings at Six and Chamber at Six performance series
Hear our double bassists share their experiences of training at Guildhall, from symphony orchestra concerts to chamber and baroque music.
Highlights, Successes & Alumni
Recent Department highlights and successes have included:
- String masterclasses with with Erich Hobarth, Gary Hoffman, Ettore Causa, Christian Tetzlaff, Nobuko Imai, Bruno Giuranna, Donald Weilerstein, Mark Gothoni, DaXun Zhang, Nikolaj Znaider, Thomas Riebl, Roberto Díaz, András Keller, Janine Jansen, Elmira Darvarova, Leonidas Kavakos, Gordan Nikolic, Zuill Bailey, Midori, Ediscon Ruiz, Phoebe Russell, Jurek Dybal, Alban Gerhardt, Bret Simner, Pavlo Beznosiuk (Baroque interpretation) and Extended String Techniques for contemporary music with David Alberman (LSO, ex-Arditti Quartet).
- Orchestral sectional rehearsals with members of the London Symphony Orchestra, and repertoire workshops with principal players of the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic, NAC Orchestra of Canada, Leipzig Gewandhaus and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestras, and Elmira Darvarova (New York Metropolitan Opera, opera concertmaster solos).
- Chamber music masterclasses with members of the Emerson, Takacs, Brentano, Endellion and Danish String Quartets, Ralf Gothoni, Ferenc Rados, András Keller and Simon Rowland-Jones. Special string/chamber orchestra projects led by Candida Thompson, Anthony Marwood, Andrew Watkinson, Levon Chillingirian.
- Harp masterclasses with Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Nancy Allen, Sivan Magen, Isabelle Perrin, Anneleen Lenaerts, Chantal Mathieu and Sylvain Blassel.
- Guitar masterclasses recent and past include Berta Rojas, David Tannenbaum, Ricaro Iznaola, David Russell, Ignacio Rodes, Eduardo Martin, David Starobin,Douglas Rogers, Antigoni Goni and Maximo Pujol.
- Masterclasses with leaders of the Barbican's visiting orchestras and ensembles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic (International Orchestra Partner) and Australian Chamber Orchestra (International Associate Ensemble at Milton Court).
- Performances by senior student string quartets in pre-London Symphony Orchestra concerts on the Barbican Hall stage
- Joint projects with the Composition Department, where string and piano students work with composers resulting in the performance of newly created works
- A dedicated and recently refurbished double bass room and harp room, as well as storage lockers for basses
Students in the Department have recently been prize winners in the following competitions:
- Bordeaux and Banff International String Quartet competitions
- Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition
- CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust Intercollegiate Competition
- Gisborne International Music Competition
- Borletti-Buitoni Trust
- Winner ECHO Rising Star Competition
- Young Concert Artist Trust and Concert Artists Guild (New York)
- Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award
- Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Prize
- Royal Overseas League Elias Fawcett Award for Outstanding Chamber Ensemble
- Royal Philharmonic Society Henderson Chamber Ensemble Award
- ChamberStudio Mentorship
- Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal Standard Life Competition
- Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition
- Sylva Gelber Award
- St Martin's-in-the-Fields Chamber Competition
- St John's Smith Square Young Artist Competition
- Giovani Musicisti International Music Competition
- Ivor Mairants Guitar Competition
- Certamen Internacional de Guitarra Classica “Francisco Tárrega”
- Admira Young Guitarist of the Year
- Berlin International Guitar Competition
- Enrico Mercatali Guitar Competition
- Brno International Guitar Competition
- YCAT Solo and chamber
- Vienna Haydn chamber music competition
- Musicians’ Company Award
- American Protégé International Strings and Piano Competition
In addition, students have been selected for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Ann and Peter Law Experience Scheme, the Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowship Programme, the LSO String Experience Scheme, Park Lane Group Young Artists, Pro Corda Leverhulme Fellowships, IMS Prussia Cove, and as Young Concert Artist Trust and Tillett Trust artists.
Former students are members of leading chamber ensembles and orchestras internationally, and many are among the most sought-after performers and teachers in the profession.
- Heath Quartet, winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award
- Jennifer Pike (Violin 2009), soloist
- David Coucheron (Violin 2008), concertmaster of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
- Maxim Rysanov (Viola 2005), recipient of Classic FM/Gramophone Young Artist of the Year
- Lawrence Power (Viola 1996), soloist
- Tom Norris (Violin/Viola 1993), Co-Principal 2nd Violin, London Symphony Orchestra
- Janice Graham (Violin/Viola 1991), leader, English National Opera orchestra
- Clio Gould (Violin 1990), leader, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
- Candida Thompson (Violin 1990), Artistic Director and Leader of Amsterdam Sinfonietta
- Philip Dukes (Violin 1989), soloist and teacher
- Anthony Marwood (Violin 1987), soloist, director, chamber musician
- Tasmin Little (Violin 1986), soloist
- Masayuki Kino (Violin 1985), soloist, solo concertmaster for the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra
- Alison Martin, Principal Harp, English National Opera
- Katherine Thomas, Principal Harp, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
- Fontane Liang, Principal Harp, Singapore Chinese Orchestra
Guitar alumni include
- George Tarlton (Guitar 2015), 1st prize, London International Guitar Competition
- Francesco Scelzo (Guitar 2012) 1st prize, Ivor Mairants International Guitar Competition; 1st prize, Brno International Guitar Competition; 1st prize, “Enrico Mercatali” European Guitar Competition; 3rd prize, Berlin International Guitar Competition
- Ahmed Dickinson (Guitar 2009) Ahmed Dickinson plays Ñico Rojas CD, winner of Best Instrumental Soloist & Best Instrumental Album categories, Cubadisco 2009 (Cuban Music Record Industry Awards)
- Jorgen Skogmo (Guitar 2006) 1st prize, Bath International Guitar Competition 1999; 1st prize, Ivor Mairant Guitar Competition, London 2002; Certamen Internacional de Guitarra Classica Francisco Tárrega (Benicassim, Spain), Finalist and Premio del publico prize winner 2005.
- David Miller (Guitar 1979) Ravish’d with Sacred Extacies CD, Supersonic Award by Pizzicato Magazine, 2010
Individual Lessons • Masterclasses • Chamber Music • Orchestral and Repertoire Studies • Jazz, Early and Contemporary Harp • Teaching Skills • Skills for the Digital Age
The Harp Department combines individual teaching of the highest calibre with stimulating, wide-ranging study covering all aspects of harp playing. Our aim is to produce self-starting, versatile and creative musicians, at home in every part of the profession.
Imogen Barford, Head of Harp, leads a team of distinguished professional harpists, including Charlotte Seale, Bryn Lewis (Principal Harp, London Symphony Orchestra), Helen Tunstall (Principal Harp, London Sinfonietta), Lucy Wakeford (Principal Harp, Royal Opera House and Nash Ensemble), Keziah Thomas, Joy Smith and Dr Andrew Lawrence-King (early harp), and Monika Stadler (jazz harp), each with individual areas of expertise. Their work in weekly classes covers every aspect of harp-playing, including orchestral, chamber music, practising and teaching skills, jazz and improvisation, contemporary musicianship, light music, historical and contextual studies and career planning in the digital age.
Regular masterclasses are given by guest harpists pre-eminent in the UK and abroad. These have included: Catherine Michel (France), Nancy Allen (US), Sivan Magen (Israel/US), Sylvain Blassel (France), Marie-Pierre Langlamet (France/Germany), Isabelle Perrin (France), Helga Storck (Germany), Erika Waardenburg (The Netherlands), Anneleen Lenaerts (Belgium), Catrin Finch (Wales) and Chantal Mathieu (Switzerland).
Postgraduate harp studies at the Guildhall School are tailored to the precise needs of each student.
Read more about the programme and recent news from the Harp Department
Alternatively, for all harp enquiries, please email the Harp Department.
Individual lessons | Chamber Music | Masterclasses
The Guitar Department offers comprehensive training at the highest level in both solo and chamber music performance.
The course is led by the eminent and highly experienced international soloists, Robert Brightmore, with renowned soloists and chamber music specialists David Miller and Jorgen Skogmo, and takes advantage of David Miller’s expertise as one of Britain’s most distinguished early music specialists. William Carter teaches plucked instruments as well as core subjects in the Department of Historical Performance.
The central part of the course is the solo repertoire of the last four centuries. During the second year students also take theorbo lessons which lead to continuo work. In years 3 and 4 chamber music and concerto playing are essential parts of the syllabus.
During the course there will be frequent performance opportunities and masterclasses by pre-eminent guest guitarists and musicians.