The son of a South Yorkshire coal miner, Brian Blessed was born in 1936 in Mexborough and grew up in the mining village of Goldthorpe. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before beginning a distinguished and varied career, which has encompassed all media. Brian is now one of this country’s best known and most highly respected actors.
Brian created the role of ‘Old Deuteronomy’ in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s highly successful musical, CATS, for which he received a SWET nomination. He also starred as ‘John Freeman’ in the West End musical METROPOLIS. Whilst a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company he played ‘Claudius’ in HAMLET, ‘Exeter’ in HENRY V and ‘Hastings’ in RICHARD III. At the Royal National Theatre he created ‘Maxim Gorky’ in Robert Bolt’s STATE OF REVOLUTION and played the role of ‘Sir Tunbelly Clumsey’ in THE RELAPSE, directed by Trevor Nunn. He also played ‘Henry II’ in THE LION IN WINTER at Basingstoke and he created the role of ‘Baron Bomburst’ in the original cast of the hugely successful musical, CHITTY, BANG, BANG at the London Palladium.
Countless television roles include; ‘Augustus Caesar’ in I CLAUDIUS for which he received the New York Critics Award; ‘PC Fancy Smith’ in Z CARS; ‘Porthos’ in THE THREE MUSKETEERS; ‘Pepone’ in THE LITTLE WORLD OF DON CAMILLO; ‘Spiro’ in MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS; the title role in THE JOY OF BACH, ‘Richard IV’ in BLACK ADDER; the larger than life ‘Squire Western’ in the BBC’s classic drama series TOM JONES, the ‘Laughing Cavalier’ in ADAM’S FAMILY TREE (YTV), ‘Mr Scottley’ in THE GREATEST STORE IN THE WORLD, ‘Sir Morris’ in the award winning animated series THE BIG KNIGHTS (BBC) ,’Max’ in WINTER SOLSTICE ( BBC), and ‘Sir David Fawcett’ in THE ROYAL for ITV.
On Film, Brian played ‘Talthybius’ in TROJAN WOMEN in which he was thrilled to co-star with Katherine Hepburn, Irene Papas and Vanessa Redgrave. He played ‘Vultan’ in the ever popular FLASH GORDON; ‘Pedro’ in MAN OF LA MANCHA; ‘Long John Silver’ in RETURN TO TREASURE ISLAND; ‘General Zukov’ in WAR AND REMEMBRANCE and ‘Lord Locksley’ in ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES with Kevin Costner. In Kenneth Branagh’s HENRY V he played ‘Exeter’, in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING he played ‘Antonio’ and in HAMLET he played ‘Hamlet’s Father and the Ghost’. He played ‘Boss Nass’ in George Lucas’ STAR WARS, THE PHANTOM MENACE, ‘Pendragon’ in MERLIN - THE LEGEND BEGINS, ‘Clayton’ in Walt Disney’s TARZAN and ‘Leonidas’ in Oliver Stones’ ALEXANDER. More recently he played ‘Cardinal Piccolomini’ in THE CONCLAVE, ‘Lord Francisco del Ruiz’ in DAY OF WRATH, ‘Duke Frederick/Duke Senior’ in Kenneth Branagh’s version of AS YOU LIKE IT and the role of ‘The Pirate Captain’ in PIRATES – BAND OF MISFITS for Ardmann.
Brian has worked with some of this country’s great orchestras. At the Royal Festival Hall he appeared with The London Symphony Orchestra and massed choirs performing Arthur Bliss’ MORNING HEROES. He followed this with the inevitable PETER AND THE WOLF with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham, Prokofiev’s IVAN THE TERRIBLE with the Royal National Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow and he has recorded A YOUNG PERSONS GUIDE TO THE ORCHESTRA. He ‘Narrated’ KING OLAF with The Danesborough Chorus and TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED/ LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD with The BBC Concert Orchestra.
Brian has written seven books; THE TURQUOISE MOUNTAIN, THE DYNAMITE KID, NOTHING’S IMPOSSIBLE, BLESSED EVEREST, an inspiring abbreviated history of Everest, which includes many magnificent photographs, QUEST TO THE LOST WORLD, ABSOLUTE PANDEMONIUM and THE PANTHER IN MY KITCHEN.
Brian loves writing and would write a great deal more if he could find the time!
Since the late sixties Brian has had a great love of mountaineering and a great desire to stand on ‘the top of the world’. He has been on three expeditions to Mount Everest. The first to make the film GALAHAD OF EVEREST, a tribute to George Leigh Mallory. In 1993 he returned to Everest, this time to climb the Southern side where he reached a height of 28,000 feet – the highest a man of his age has achieved without oxygen. He returned to the Northern side in 1996 when the climb was filmed by a Channel 4 Television team as part of the ENCOUNTERS series. Brian has also completed a trek to the North Pole, an expedition to The Lost World in Venezuela, a climb to the summit of Mount Ararat in Turkey at 17,000 feet and a climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
More recently Brian played “The Narrator” in the UK and in New York, in Prokofiev’s PETER & THE WOLF, he also played ‘Captain Goitre’ IN THE CGI SKETCH SHOW, ‘Henry Vlll’ in HENRY 8.0, and ‘The Nekross King’ in two series of ALIENS V WIZARDS all for the BBC. He also made a Second Guest Appearance as ‘The Host’ on HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU.
Brian lives in Surrey with his wife, the actress Hildegard Neil. They have one daughter, Rosalind, who is also an actress
Simon Dobson is an award winning composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and producer.
His work as principal conductor and arranger with the London based Parallax Orchestra has seen him conduct critically acclaimed sell out shows with rock and metal bands at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall and Live album sessions at Abbey Road. His studio and arranging work with the same outfit has led to him working on many albums featured in the UK top 40, including the recent No. 1 album ‘For Those That Wish To Exist’ by UK band Architects. Simon also undertakes conducting duties with the Southbank Sinfonia, the Heritage Orchestra, the Metropole Orkest and the Royal Philharmonic
Simon works extensively as an orchestral arranger and alongside writing (and often performing) brass and strings for almost 40 records to date, Simon regularly writes for London’s Heritage Orchestra and Amsterdam’s famous Metropole Orkest.
Simon began his career as a composer, and after studying with a scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London, Simon has worked to commission for the last fifteen years. His arrangements have been featured at the Proms and his works for wind and brass have been performed countless times around the world, earning him three British Composer Awards (BASCAs), most recently in 2018 for his work The Turing Test. Simon continues to push boundaries within the Brass and Wind scene writing classical contemporary music and concertos that challenge players and audiences alike around the globe.
As a performer Simon regularly tours the UK as a live session musician. He has performed on over 50 albums and endorses JP Trumpets and Aston Mics. Simon was a recent recipient of the PRS Composers Fund and released his second solo album of compositions ‘MDCNL’ in 2021.
ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA (RPO)
As the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary, its mission to enrich lives through orchestral experiences that are uncompromising in their excellence and inclusive in their appeal, places the RPO at the forefront of music-making in the UK and internationally. Typically performing approximately 200 concerts each season and with a worldwide audience of more than half-a-million people, the Orchestra embraces a broad repertoire that enables it to reach the most diverse audience of any British symphony orchestra. Whilst artistic integrity remains paramount, the RPO is unafraid to push boundaries and is equally at home recording video game, film and television soundtracks and working with pop stars, as it is performing the great symphonic repertoire.
The RPO collaborates with the most inspiring artists and was thrilled to welcome Vasily Petrenko as its new Music Director in August 2021. His appointment stands as a major landmark in the Orchestra’s history, signalling its determination to broaden the audience for orchestral music while enhancing its reputation as one of the world’s most versatile ensembles. Vasily Petrenko made his debut with the RPO at London’s Royal Albert Hall in March 2016 delivering a powerful interpretation of Mahler’s Symphony No.2, ‘Resurrection’. His rapport with the Orchestra’s players has been reaffirmed with subsequent London performances, and forthcoming plans include a series of Mahler’s choral symphonies at the Royal Albert Hall, the great works of English composers at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, and tours to Germany and leading European festivals. Vasily Petrenko joins a roster of titled conductors that includes Pinchas Zukerman (Principal Guest Conductor), Alexander Shelley (Principal Associate Conductor) and Grzegorz Nowak (Permanent Associate Conductor).
In addition to the Orchestra’s annual season of concerts in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and its home Cadogan Hall, the RPO is a respected cultural ambassador and enjoys a busy schedule of international touring, performing in the world’s great concerts halls and at prestigious international festivals.
The RPO is recognised as being the UK’s most in-demand orchestra, an accolade that would have pleased Sir Thomas Beecham, who founded the RPO in 1946. His mission was to lead a vital revival of UK orchestras after World War II and form an ensemble that comprised the finest musicians in the country. The Orchestra has since attracted a glittering list of principal conductors, including Rudolf Kempe, Antal Doráti, Walter Weller, André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yuri Temirkanov, Daniele Gatti and Charles Dutoit.
The RPO aims to place orchestral music at the heart of contemporary society, collaborating with creative partners to foster a deeper engagement with communities to ensure that live orchestral music is accessible to as inclusive and diverse an audience as possible. To achieve this, in 1993 the Orchestra launched RPO Resound, which has grown to become the most innovative and respected orchestral community and education programme in the UK and internationally.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has always been entrepreneurial and in 1986 it was the first UK orchestra to launch its own record label. The RPO has gone on to embrace advances in digital technology and now achieves nearly thirty million downloads of its recorded music each year. The Orchestra is increasingly active online (rpo.co.uk) and on social media (@rpoonline) providing audiences with the opportunity to engage with the RPO and enjoy ‘behind-the-scenes’ insights.
Passion, versatility and uncompromising artistic standards are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s hallmarks, and as it looks forward to an exciting future with its new Music Director, Vasily Petrenko, it will continue to be recognised as one of the world’s most open-minded, forward-thinking and accessible symphony orchestras.
FIRST VIOLINS: Duncan Riddell, Shana Douglas, Joana Valentinaviciute, Eriko Nagayama, Andrew Klee, Kay Chappell, Anthony Protheroe, Sophie Mather
SECOND VIOLINS: Andrew Storey, David O'Leary, Stephen Payne, Manuel Porta
VIOLAS: Abigail Fenna, Liz Varlow, Chian Lim, Esther Harling
CELLOS: Jonathan Ayling, Roberto Sorrentino, Naomi Watts, Anna Stuart
DOUBLE BASSES: Nicholas Bayley, Rupert Ring
FRENCH HORNS: Alexander Edmundson, Kathryn Saunders, Paul Gardham, Paul Cott
From classical training to musical theatre productions, pop tv career at a young age to now owning a performing arts school for children. Ella Shaw’s natural talent and frightening musical proficiency became instantly apparent to all who saw her perform. Since penning her first song age 11 and taking to the stage in a NODA Award winning production, Ella has since performed on national tv, for audiences as big as 21 thousand and hosted her own tv show on Vintage TV.
Ella Shaw has instantly captivating vocals and star quality stage presence, described by Simon Cowell as 'MEGA, MEGA Talented'.
Martin started playing drums aged 7 and since progressed to be Principal Percussionist with some of the UK’s top brass bands and ensembles. Having been involved in music all his life, Martin progressed into music media and production, and even started his own percussion label, Centre Stage Percussion, whose Tubular Bells and drums can be heard on this album.
His production company, IBB Media, put together the planning and production of this album, in which Martin features on drums.
Martin’s business life has now overtaken the time commitment necessary for full time serious playing, but he nonetheless still enjoys getting behind the kit, mainly in his favourite genre, rhythm and blues. With major new international filming, recording and touring projects now confirmed, the next few years are already looking very busy!
LONDON CONTEMPORARY VOICES
London Contemporary Voices is London's leading contemporary choir and is renowned for its unique collaborations with pioneering artists - including 18 Grammy winners and nominees. The choir is regularly seen at festivals across the UK, as well as TV and Radio. Previous collaborators include Imogen Heap, Alt-J, Orlando Weeks (Maccabees), Nitin Sawhney, U2, Laura Mvula, Sam Smith, Manu Delago and Eska. The choir is in high demand after a string of successes which include performing its second BBC Prom (Songs of Scott Walker) with Heritage Orchestra, John Grant, Susanne Sundfor, Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley. The choir also features on Elbow's UK No. 1 album Little Fictions as well as Jools Holland's Pianola featuring a collaboration with Sir Tom Jones. They also soundtracked several Burberry fashion shows and Imogen Heap's award winning play scores.
Simon is an internationally recognised Engineer/Producer, working throughout the music industry. With a strong musical ear and a vast experience of a range of equipment backed by good scientific knowledge, Simon has become a well-trusted engineer by many high caliber artists and clients.
Unlike other established engineers/producers, Simon’s unique reputation embraces a vast range of music genres, working with a diverse range of artists in the studio and on the stage. For example, while working on rock and pop material, he has also gained a reputation as the go-to engineer for classical location recording projects in the UK. Most remarkably, Simon’s skill set is now often called upon to see a project through from studio recording to live performance on a global scale.
In addition to the work he does in music, Simon writes technical features for several international industry publications. Currently his articles can be read in PLASA Media’s publication, Lighting and Sound International, as their audio technical focus columnist.
Andreas began his career with classical training in Piano and Theory at; The Royal Academy of Music and later the Trinity College of Music.
He has produced several recordings with; The Moscow Radio Orchestra, Moscow Symphony Orchestra and The Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, either as composer/producer or arranger/producer. He writes music for National TV, theatre and film, proving to be a household name in Cyprus and Greece. Andreas has represented several entries to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996, 2006 & 2014, as a composer or producer/arranger.
Used to fulfilling the role of musical director for the musicals; Les Miz, Oliver, Cats and many more that were staged in Cyprus, he is regularly found leading large productions both in the studio and live on the stage. In his 35 year career as a composer, musician, arranger, sound engineer and producer, he has been involved with over 300 productions across the world including the UK.
Jeff is a classically-trained pianist who in spite of his youthful good looks already boasts an impressive CV. In early 1980 he worked with psychedelic cult hero Nick Nicely, then went on to play with the likes of Paul Young, Alexander O'Neil, Shirley Bassey and Van Morrison. He met Martin Lawrence whilst touring with Joe Longthorne, and was invited to play on Barclay James Harvest's River Of Dreams album (for which he wrote the classical intro to "Back In The Game") and the tour which followed.
He continued his association with John on the Nexus and Revival tours with Barclay James Harvest Through The Eyes Of John Lees, and with Woolly in the live Maestoso band. Most recently, he played keyboards in the house band for the smash hit Queen musical, We Will Rock You, played keyboards in the backing band for the likes of Brian May, Peter Gabriel, Bono and Bob Geldof at the huge Nelson Mandela 46664 charity concert, and still found time to guest on Catherine Howe's Princelet Street album, released in January 2006.
Jeff is married to Sadie, and they have two children, Romy and Isla. Sadly, Jeff is a Spurs supporter ...
Tom Edwards is a British orchestral and session percussionist living and working in London. After studying percussion and timpani at the Royal Academy Of Music Tom began working with many of the UK’s most prominent orchestras and ensembles, whilst also performing and recording as a member of the rock band Spiritualized for 16 years playing percussion and keyboards.
Tom currently freelances as an orchestral percussionist working regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic and BBC orchestras among others, and has recorded numerous film & tv soundtracks for composers such as John Williams, Alexander Desplat, David Arnold, Michael Giacchino, Bryan Tyler and Chris Lennertz. Other musical credits include string arranging for several Spiritualized albums, and for the recent 2022 album from Marsden & Richardson.
Kevin is Principal Percussion of The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, joining the orchestra shortly before graduating from The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Performing primarily with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Kevin has also worked with most of the worlds other leading ballet companies, and has collaborated closely with composers including John McCabe, Carl Davis, Gabriel Prokofiev and most recently as solo percussionist with
Mathias Coppens on his new score, City of a Thousand Trades. Kevin has performed with most of the major London orchestras, most notably with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, with which he has toured and recorded extensively, regularly as guest Principal Percussion.
In the rock and pop world Kevin was percussionist on the 2007 concert Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, and has recorded/toured with artists including Sting, The Pet Shop Boys, Boney M, Pete
Townshend and with the space rock band Spiritualized.
Internationally, he has performed with artists as diverse as A.R.Rahman (India), Seo Taiji (South Korea), Zade Dirani (Jordan) and Eddy Grant (Barbados).
Pete Callard graduated as ‘Outstanding Student of the Year’ from Musicians' Institute in Hollywood, California. His many credits include Lionel Richie, Queen, Sting, Stewart Copeland, Annie Lennox, The Bee Gees, Ronan Keating, Will Young, Shirley Bassey and Chaka Khan, alongside numerous TV shows, films and recordings, and regular performances/recordings with the major UK orchestras. He also leads his own jazz quartet and trio and is a member of the electronica outfit Shpongle, with whom he’s recorded multiple albums and performed around the world.
In the guitar community he’s perhaps best known for his regular columns in Guitar Techniques, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazines, and online for his educational videos for Six String Alliance, Produce Like A Pro and his own YouTube channel
Pete recorded all of the guitars for the Tubular Bells 50 album, and is thrilled to now have the opportunity to recreate it live
Andy has been a major contributor to the UK bass world for more than 40 years. He was a member of ‘Landscape’ whose single Einstein a Go Go was a top five hit. He has recorded with countless artists as diverse as Freddie Mercury and Elaine Page. His TV work includes the house band on the Wogan chat for four years and Stars in Their Eyes for fifteen years.
Andy’s compositions include the theme to the long running UK police show “The Bill” and touring has taken him to 20%of the worlds countries, some many times over, and includes Elaine Paige, Veronique Sanson and, since 2016, extensive world touring as a member of Hans Zimmer’s band.