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Strings Courses

June 2023

We were delighted that for our 2023 season we were partnered by the world-famous Dudok Quartet from Amsterdam who joined with international violinist Ishani Bhoola and accompanist Helen Leek in providing a week of world-class instruction.

Come & Sing – Rossini, Petite Messe Solonnelle

Tuesday 18th April 2023 – Saturday 22nd April 2023

The course was 4 half-day, morning rehearsals building up towards a public performance on Saturday 22nd in the magnificent St Félicien church in the centre of Issigeac.

We had the opportunity to attend the two Masterclasses that Nelly Miricioiu gave as she coached the  soloists from The Royal Northern College of Music. The masterclasses took place on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th April. Nelly Miricioiu’s extraordinary career has taken her to most major opera houses of Europe.

The rehearsals took place at Maison des Services, Chemin des Ecoliers, Issigeac and the concert was great success and was extremely well attended by friends and family, local residents and from further afield. The St Félicien Church in the centre of the village as alive with music and people.

The course was led by Conductor, pianist and now local resident  John Alley who was with the London Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, as well as performing and recording with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.

John has worked closely with renowned maestros including Boulez, Bernstein, Solti, Mehta, Haitink, Masur, Berio, Lutoslawski, Gergiev, Colin Davis.

Nelly Miricioiu  ran masterclasses for the soloists which we were able to attend as member of the course. She has worked with some of the most prestigious conductors and directors, and opposite leading artists of the day, such as José CarrerasPlácido DomingoJosé CuraRoberto Alagna, to name but a few.

The course and concert were accompanied by Jennifer Carter on piano and Michael Veazey  on Harmonium


Our four soloists, all from the Royal Northern College of Music, were

Soprano – Taylor London
Mezzo – Rachel Garland
Tenor Henry Strutt
Bass – Adam Christie

 Dudok String Quartet from Amsterdam


Marie-Louise de Jong  started with violin lessons, but became addicted to viola at age 17. She studied in Maastricht with Marc Tooten and in Freiburg with Wolfram Christ. In 2018 she was awarded her Solistendiplom ‘mit Auszeichnung’.
She travelled the world during ten amazing tours as principal violist with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester. But when the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam was looking for a new violist in 2017, she decided to take the leap and pursue a full-time chamber music career.

Next to the quartet’s violist, Marie-Louise is the group’s travel agent as well as head of the Friends of the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, our group of private sponsors. She plays a viola built by Jean Baptiste Lefèbvre in Amsterdam around 1760, on generous loan from the Dutch Musical Instrument Foundation (NMF).


David Faber received his first instrument when he was only three years old, although this cello was made from Duplo. He was a cello devotee throughout his youth, but decided to study law when he came out of school. Experiencing the communicative power of music first-hand as a member of the Ricciotti Ensemble was the final trigger that made him decide to study music at the conservatory. He studied cello in Den Haag and Amsterdam with Floris Mijnders and Dmitri Ferschtman.

David is not only cellist of the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, but also the in-house arranger, spokesman at concert and first contact between the quartet and management. David plays a 1850 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume cello, made available to him by the Dutch Musical Instrument Foundation (NMF).

Marleen Wester is an omnivorous string player. Although the violin was always her first love, she enjoys playing a range of other instruments, including but not limited to the viola d’amore and musical saw. She studied the violin in Amsterdam with Lex Korff de Gidts and Peter Brunt. During her studies she developed a big fondness for contemporary and unusal repertoire. As a member of the Ricciotti Ensemble she simultaneously performed before audiences that have limited access to classical music worldwide.

Within the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam, Marleen is not only the second violinist, but also head of finance. Since 2017, Marleen plays a violin built by Vincenzo Panormo in 1818, on generous loan from the Dutch Musical Instrument Foundation (NMF).


Judith van Driel has been fascinated by music all of her life.As a three year old she imitated her violin-playing sister with two knitting needles and begged her parents for a real violin, which she finally got when she was five years old. That’s where her love for chamber music started. As a kid, she played together with her sisters, and later on with friends from the conservatory. She studied the violin Amsterdam with Kees Koelmans and Peter Brunt, and in Vienna with Günter Pichler of the Alban Berg Quartett. Being concertmaster in the Ricciotti Ensemble offered her the chance to bring live music everywhere and for everyone, and she experienced how live music can touch people. This always remained her biggest motivation for being a musician.

In the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam she plays the violin.Her role in the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam is that of first violinist. She also persues her other hobby: telling stories about the music during concerts, and writing texts for the quartet. Since 2021, Judith is a teacher at the Sweelinck Academie for young talent at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Judith plays a violin built by Francesco Goffriller in 1725, on generous loan from the Dutch Musical Instrument Foundation (NMF).

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