With her exceptional talent, musical integrity, and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violist of our time. After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the prestigious international competition in Munich and Geneva.
Formerly a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Ms. Imai now combines a distinguished international solo career. She has appeared with many of the wolrd’s prestigious orchestras such as Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London, Boston, and Chicago Symphonies, among many others.
A keen chamber musician, Ms. Imai has often performed with world’s renowned artists at numerous world’s most distinguished music festivals, including Marlboro, Pablo Casals in Prado, Ravinia, and Verbier. From 2003 to 2020, Nobuko Imai was founding member of Michelangelo String Quartet. The quartet achieved numerous acclaimed projects such like the Beethoven quartet cyle in Scotland and Japan and the world premiere of Lera Auerbach’s “Goetia. 72 – In umbra Lucis”, among others.
Nobuko Imai has dedicated a large part of her artistic activities to explore the diverse potential of the viola. In 1995/1996 she was artistic director of three Hindemith Festivals in London, New York, and Tokyo. She is the funder of the annual “Viola Space” project which is dedicated to “celebrating the viola, introducing outstanding works and new works for viola”. And also, since 2009, the Tokyo International Viola Competition, the first international competition in Asia exclusively for viola, is held every three years as part of the Viola Space. She is also keen to expand the viola repertoire and has given a number of first performances of the composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Toshio Hosokawa, Ichiro Nodaira, Dai Fujikura, among many others. An impressive discography of over 40 CDs shows Nobuko Imai’s recordings for prestigious labels such as Philips, BIS, Deutsche Grammophon.
Her many prizes include the Avon Arts Award, the Education Minister’s Art Prize for Music awarded by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs, the Mobil Prize, the Suntory Music Prize, and the Mainichi Art Prize. Ms. Imai received the Purple Ribbon Medal and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Japanese government.
Ms. Imai now teaches at Amsterdam Conservatory, Kronberg International Academy, and Queen Sofia College of Music in Madrid.
Executive Artistic Director and Trustee
Louise is a violist, educator, philanthropist and researcher. She has recently started new roles at three institutions: Assistant Head of Strings (viola) at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Professor of viola and chamber music at the Yehudi Menuhin School (YMS) and Visiting Tutor in Viola at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC).
Prior to this Louise was Head of Strings at RBC (2012-2023) after holding the position of Senior Lecturer at the RNCM (2001-2012). Louise is the founder of the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition launched at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2014. She is also the President of the British Viola Society. More recent viola creations include The BIG Viola Project and Aronowitz Viola Course, held annually at Lavethan, Blisland in Cornwall.
Louise’s entire life is dedicated to the viola and one of her lifelong obsessions has been the viola music of Paul Hindemith. With a PhD on Hindemith under her belt Louise is now industriously working on a book “Hindemith and the Viola” that will be published by Schott in their Frankfurt Studies Series. As if this wasn’t enough viola, Louise is a member of the Ubuntu Ensemble, a group of all South Africans promoting and performing the music of South African and African composers. She is also preparing to record a solo album of works by South African composers, including music she has commissioned as well as some unpublished and unknown music. She is the Principal Violist of the South African Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra.
Louise plays on a french viola c.1750 and 1890 Sartory bow previously belonging to the South African violist Cecil Aronowitz. She has recently acquired a 2018 Antoine Gourdon viola. Louise is incredibly excited about her new role with the Aronowitz and Tertis Competitions.
Artistic Director and Trustee
Martin enjoys a wide-ranging career as chamber musician, soloist and teacher. He studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music. He is a member of the internationally renowned Maggini Quartet and also appears regularly as a soloist. He has recorded over fifty discs with the quartet and other chamber music ensembles and has been the recipient of the Gramophone Award, the Diapason d'Or, a Cannes Classical Award, two Grammy nominations and the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for chamber music. Alongside his work in the Maggini Quartet, Martin’s experience includes an extremely busy career as a freelance player, appearing as principal viola and guest principal with all of London’s premier chamber orchestras. His nine solo discs have received wide international acclaim, including in Gramophone, The Strad and a five-star review in the BBC Music Magazine. Many works have been written for him, notably concertos by Peter Aviss, Adam Gorb and David Gow. He has appeared as a soloist at the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall and performed on tour in South America, Europe and the UK as a soloist with the Britten Sinfonia. Martin is Lionel Tertis Professor of Viola at the Royal Academy of Music.
Jonathan studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Atar Arad and Mischa Geller and was awarded all the major prizes for viola. He graduated with distinction in 1983 and was immediately offered a position with the English Chamber Orchestra where he was appointed co-principal viola in 1988. He was sponsored by the ECO Music Society in his London recital debut at the Purcell Room, and he has since regularly played concertos with the orchestra.
As a very versatile artist, Jonathan has managed a varied career and is much in demand as a soloist and chamber musician both in the UK and abroad. He has subsequently worked with most of the London orchestras and has guest lead the London Symphony, Philharmonia, CBSO, Mozart Players, BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish and BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestras viola sections.
From 1995 to 2001 Jonathan was a member of the Allegri String Quartet. During his time with the quartet, he gave masterclasses in Oxford, Leeds, Southampton, and Durham Universities as well as Dartington College of Arts, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity College of Music.
He has worked with many chamber groups including Capricorn, Raphael, Gaudier and Primavera ensembles and has given quartet concerts with William Pleeth and James Galway. He is a member of Divertimenti Ensemble which specialises in reviving works for ‘Cello Quintets as well as other mainstream chamber music.
Since leaving the Quartet he has returned to the English Chamber Orchestra as principal viola. He now divides his time between his teaching commitments at the Royal College of Music, Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music and freelance chamber, solo and orchestral work. He is also a Trustee of the original Tertis Foundation which promotes the heritage of Lionel Tertis, which funded the Isle of Man Tertis Viola competition and education projects in the viola world.
He plays a Giovanni and Francesco Grancino viola c.1680.
Artistic Director and Trustee
Since her debut with the Philharmonia in 1992 and at the Wigmore Hall in 1997, Sarah-Jane has established a distinguished international reputation as a soloist and chamber musician.
Sarah-Jane has performed and recorded as a soloist with major orchestras such as the Philharmonia, Hallé, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and City of London Sinfonia, including live broadcasts on radio 3.
Sarah-Jane is a pioneer of new works and has premiered and recorded a number of new concertos written for her, including those by David Matthews, Paul Patterson and Matthew Taylor. Her extensive discography of acclaimed solo recordings includes 9 CDs of viola concertos and 4 recital discs as well as several dozen chamber recordings for Hyperion, Chandos, Dutton, Naxos, Nimbus and Toccata.
Sarah-Jane is in high demand as a recitalist and chamber musician; she regularly plays in recital with pianist John Lenehan as well as Martin Roscoe. She is also a founder member of the Rossetti Ensemble and Karolos and a frequent guest with other chamber groups including I Musicanti. A founder member of the Leopold String Trio, Sarah-Jane has also been a member of the Sorrel Quartet, Fidelio Piano Quartet, London Soloists Ensemble and Co-Artistic Director of Sound Collective. She has toured widely as well as making frequent broadcasts on radio 3 as both soloist and chamber musician. Her work as a chamber musician has taken her around the world to festivals such as Kuhmo, Marlboro and West Cork where she performed with pianists Marc-Andre Hamelin and Richard Goode.
Sarah-Jane has worked as guest principal viola with the Philharmonia, London Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, London Mozart Players, City of London Sinfonia and Orchestra of the Swan.
Following studies at the Royal Academy of Music with John White, and the Mozarteum Salzburg with Thomas Riebl, Sarah-Jane won an array of awards, and in 1995 was first prizewinner at Capellades and St. Joan de Vilatorrada. A prizewinner at the 1994 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, Sarah-Jane was on the jury in 2013 and is on the executive committee of the Competition.
Sarah-Jane is Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and also teaches viola at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and The Purcell School.
She plays on a G.A Chanot viola of Manchester, 1896.
“Exceptional...Bradley is an adventurous artist...every whisper of the bow was loaded with insight and intelligence...Is there a better British Violist than Sarah-Jane Bradley?” The Strad
“Sarah-Jane Bradley is that rare kind of viola player who can make you blush with shame for ever having told a viola joke. In her hands the instrument is passionate, eloquent and wide-ranging in its colours and moods. I would happily put this at the top of any list of recommended recording.”
BBC Music Magazine, June 2007 on “British Viola Music” (5* for performance and sound)
"Sarah-Jane Bradley: ardent, affecting soloist" The Daily Telegraph August 2009
“Sarah-Jane Bradley impresses..a virtuosic recital” The Guardian July 2018
Peter Wynne Rees CBE
Peter obtained qualifications in Architecture and City Planning before a professional career in the public sector. As City Planning Officer for the City of London, Peter led the planning and regeneration of this world business and financial centre from 1985 to 2014. He has lectured internationally; advised developers and cities around the world on urban planning and design; and made frequent media appearances on these topics. Peter was the subject of a BBC profile on “The Culture Show” and was included in the “Debrett’s 500” list of the most inspiring and influential people in Britain. Numerous awards have recognised his achievements and, in 2015, he was appointed a CBE “for services to architecture and town planning”. Peter is Professor of Places and City Planning at UCL in the Faculty of the Built Environment.
Peter is a keen amateur viola player and chamber musician.
Competition Administrator and Co-ordinator
Nicky has been teaching music for over 30 years; following a degree in Performing Arts she trained as a secondary teacher at the Institute of Education (London University) and has taught in both secondary and primary phases. Whilst working for Hertfordshire Music Service, she was Lead Teacher for the First Access programme & Head of North Herts Music. Nicky is a woodwind specialist, with clarinet as her first instrument, but since lockdown has been learning to play the viola with Vanessa Gaidoni. She is passionate about making a musical difference to young people’s lives and her involvement in combining the arts culminated in a ground-breaking site-specific project “Highbury Whispers” giving leadership opportunities to young people, working in partnership with Goldfield Productions. Three of Nicky’s songs have just been published in the international primary singing resource “Singing Sherlock 5” published by Boosey and Hawkes; composing and arranging music are another important aspect of her work. Nicky adjudicates for music competitions & festivals from time to time. Her other interests lie in spinning, weaving and dyeing and she is a keen sailor.