Pixels Ensemble is a versatile chamber group with a love of performing the finest repertoire, from the classical period to the present day. Its players are established soloists, chamber musicians, recording artists, orchestra principals and explorers of new music. Formed in 2016 by its pianist and artistic director Ian Buckle, the ensemble appears in a broad range of line-ups and combinations, lending itself to innovative programming and enabling wide variety within individual concerts.
Jonathan Aasgaard was appointed Principal Cello of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999 and has since performed more than 35 works for cello and orchestra with the RLPO. He is regularly invited as a Guest Principal with leading British and European orchestras and is Principal Cello of the John Wilson Orchestra. Chamber music performances have taken him to festivals in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, South Korea and the USA; collaborating with violinists Nigel Kennedy, Henning Kraggerud and Julian Rachlin, violist Laurence Power, cellists Yo Yo Ma and Giovanni Sollima, pianists Simon Trpceski and Boris Giltberg, and clarinetist Martin Fröst. Recordings include From Jewish Life with the RLPO and Gerard Schwarz, an album of music for cello and orchestra by Carl Davis with the Philharmonia, and the Korngold Sextet with the Sinfonia of London Chamber Ensemble. He has given numerous premieres, including the first performance of Carl Davis’s Ballade for cello and orchestra, the European premiere of Giovanni Sollima’s Concerto for two cellos, and the UK premiere of Weinberg’s Cello Concerto. Jonathan studied at the Barrett Due’s institute in Oslo and with the late Prof. Leonard Stehn at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he won all the cello and chamber music prizes and was a gold medal finalist. He plays a cello by Celeste Farotti, made in Milan in 1926.
Ian Buckle maintains a varied freelance career working as soloist, accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist and teacher. He enjoys longstanding associations with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the John Wilson Orchestra, and has appeared with them as soloist on numerous occasions. He has also played concertos with the Royal Philharmonic, the Orchestra of Opera North and Sinfonia Viva. Committed to contemporary music, he has been the pianist in Ensemble 10/10 since the group’s inception in 1997, and he regularly plays orchestral piano with the BBC Philharmonic. Ian is the artistic director and pianist of Pixels Ensemble which gives concerts throughout the UK. He frequently collaborates with poets and readers, most recently Andrew Motion, Roger McGough and Deryn Rees-Jones; in recitals of piano music and poetry: Shropshire and Other Lads, a celebration of A. E. Housman; Anthem for Doomed Youth, a commemoration of World War One; and Philip Larkin’s England. Ian teaches piano at the University of Liverpool, maintains a private teaching practice in Manchester and is an examiner with ABRSM. Recordings include Pixels Ensemble’s debut release of sonatas and piano pieces by Debussy, a recital of songs by Stephen Wilkinson The Sunlight on the Garden, and a CD of new works for clarinet and piano Prism with BBC Young Musician winner Mark Simpson. His performance of Gershwin’s New York Rhapsody live at the Royal Albert Hall is featured on Warner Classics’ The Best of the John Wilson Orchestra, and he and regular duo-partner Richard Casey are soloists in Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with the RLPO and Vasily Petrenko.
Anna Crookes has had a varied and happy musical life for over thirty years, combining performing careers as both singer and pianist with a thriving private teaching practice. While a student at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester she won the 1982 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition (as Anna Markland) and numerous concerto and recital performances followed. In 1984 she went to read Music at Worcester College, Oxford, where she became a founder-member of the now internationally-recognised vocal ensemble I Fagiolini. She spent two years as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music studying piano with Philip Fowke. Recent career highlights with I Fagiolini include the group’s debut at Carnegie Hall, New York in 2015, and appearing as both singer and pianist on Amuse Bouche, a recording of French twentieth century music, subsequently followed up with a Wigmore Hall performance. She accompanied singers James Gilchrist and Matthew Brook on The Sunlight on the Garden, a cd of songs by Stephen Wilkinson; has given performances of a programme of Steve Reich and James Macmillan with the Britten Sinfonia Voices at Kings College Cambridge and the Barbican in London; and collaborated with the Scottish Ensemble in concerts of Bach and Adrian Williams.
Fiona Fulton began studying the flute at the Music School of Douglas Academy near Glasgow before moving to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she was the winner of the Woodwind Prize, and the Laurie Kennedy Memorial Prize for her final recital. In 2007 she was the 1st prize winner of the Albert Cooper International Flute competition and the following year she won the Staffa Award. Fiona was a member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008 to 2016. During her time with the orchestra she played on Vasily Petrenko’s recordings of the complete Shostakovich and Rachmaninov Symphonies, and can be heard playing solo alto flute on the Jon Lord album To Notice Such Things. She has appeared as Guest Principal flute with the Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Scottish Symphony and BBC Philharmonic Orchestras. As a soloist Fiona has given recitals in many of the country’s most prestigious festivals including Edinburgh, Hampstead and Highgate, Stratford-upon-Avon, Chipping Camden and at Saint Martin in the Fields. A keen and versatile chamber musician, she has appeared many times with the Hebrides Ensemble and Ensemble 10/10. Fiona teaches at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and tutors the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain.
Thelma Handy was appointed Joint Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and has directed the orchestra and appeared as soloist on many occasions. Previously she toured worldwide as a member of the English Chamber Orchestra and worked extensively with the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, the London Mozart Players and the London Symphony Orchestra. She has made guest appearances as Leader with many orchestras including the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, City of Birmingham Symphony, Manchester Camerata and the Real Filharmonía de Galicia. Recent solo performances include concertos by Glazunov, Sibelius, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Khatchaturian, Brahms; and Mozart’s Concerto no 5 with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra as part of a tour of Australia. She has worked in Japan with the Mito Chamber Orchestra and in France with the baroque chamber ensemble Orfeo 55, and is in frequent demand as a chamber music collaborator, most recently giving concerts with Catrin Finch, Julian Rachlin and directing an RLPO string ensemble in Mendelssohn’s Octet. She has recently made a recording of the Kodály Duo with her cellist brother, Lionel Handy. Thelma regularly plays in Ensemble 10/10, with whom she has premiered numerous new works and made several recordings, leading the group in performances nationwide including at Wigmore Hall and on BBC Radio 3.
Alex Holladay was Head Chorister at Portsmouth Cathedral and read Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He was a prizewinner in the University concerto competition, performing Brahms’ Concerto for violin and cello in West Road Concert Hall; and a recipient of a university Instrumental Award, co-founding the Lawson Piano Trio which went on to become Junior Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music. The trio appeared at festivals and music societies nationwide, including performances at the Purcell Room and on BBC Radio 3; and became Associate Ensemble to the Chamber Music 2000 contemporary music initiative. Alex joined the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007 and has also been invited to play with the Philharmonia, the John Wilson Orchestra, the City of Birmingham and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras and the BBC Philharmonic. He frequently works with the Aurora Orchestra, recently appearing as Principal Cello in the BBC Proms. Alex has taught at the Oxford Cello School and has coached the cello sections of Liverpool Philharmonic Youth and Cheshire Youth Orchestras. He is a visiting musician with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and regularly leads early-years workshops with children across Merseyside.
Tim Jackson was a member of both the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Philharmonia Orchestra, before joining the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Horn in 2011. He has appeared as soloist with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the Philharmonia and the RLPO. Much in demand as a period instrument horn player, both in the UK and abroad, he was soloist in a Gramophone Award-winning recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no.1, directed by Trevor Pinnock. As a chamber musician he has performed with the Alison Balsom Brass Quintet, Configure8, the Endymion Ensemble, the Galliard Ensemble; and has been a member of the Marais Ensemble since 2003. He also enjoys playing jazz, both with his own quartet and with groups such as the Creative Jazz Orchestra and the BBC Big Band. Timothy is Composer-in-Association with Onyx Brass, and has received commissions from the Academy of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, the Alison Balsom Ensemble, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia and the RLPO. His pieces have been played all over the world in venues including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Hollywood Bowl, the Musikverein in Vienna and the Sydney Opera House.
Simone Rebello is Director of Percussion at the Royal Northern College of Music, from where she graduated with distinction and embarked on a solo career, touring extensively and appearing on UK and international television and radio; winning a collection of awards and prizes including Cosmopolitan’s Woman of the Year in Performing Arts. She frequently performs as concerto soloist with wind orchestras and brass bands around the world with recent trips to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Lincoln Centre, New York; and has premiered numerous works for solo percussion. She is a founder-member of BackBeat percussion quartet, winners of a number of chamber music competitions in the UK (Royal Over-Seas League and Park Lane Group), Japan (International Chamber Music Festival) and the USA (Concert Artists Guild) which have led to concerts around the world including at Carnegie Hall. She has also appeared with Ex Cathedra, the BBC Singers, Young Voices in Concert, and in a duo with jazz pianist Jason Rebello. In addition to performing, Simone is an experienced adjudicator of percussion events, wind ensemble and brass band contests, with invitations to the Royal Academy of Music, BBC Young Musician of the Year, National Concert Band Finals and National Brass Championships in New Zealand, Australia, USA and Switzerland.
Kate Romano has a 25-year career as a chamber musician and solo clarinetist. She has given over 150 world premieres and her recordings are broadcast on UK and international radio. A natural story-teller and endlessly curious about the wider arts, Kate works across many different disciplines. She writes and broadcasts regularly about music, mainly on BBC Radio 3. Driven to bring new music to more people, she founded Goldfield Productions in 2011 whose acclaimed touring productions have been seen by tens of thousands of people. Through Goldfield, Kate has commissioned many works and developed an approach of connecting new music to a wider culture via visual art, poetry, puppetry and technology. Kate has a particular affinity for music-and-spoken-word which features in many of Goldfield’s productions and the five children’s shows she has written and directed. Kate was a senior member of staff at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama for 13 years and is currently CEO of Stapleford Granary Arts Centre. She studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Cambridge University and holds a PhD in composition from Kings College London.
Sophie Rosa enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. She has performed across the UK as a recitalist in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, the Purcell Room, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place and Bridgewater Hall and has appeared as soloist with orchestras including Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Manchester Camerata. Sophie has broadcast live for BBC Radio 3 and has released CDs on Rubicon Classics, Champs Hill and EM Records labels to critical acclaim. Sophie is leader and artistic director of Sinfonia Viva and has appeared as guest leader with orchestras throughout the UK. As a keen chamber musician, Sophie is a member of Pixels Ensemble and also performs with contemporary music group, Psappha. She teaches at Chetham’s School of Music and The University of Manchester. Sophie plays on a Joseph Gagliano violin dated 1795 and a Claude Fonclause bow made available through the generous support of the Stradivari Trust. In 2021, Sophie released recordings including sonatas by Montgeroult, Viotti, Weber and Mendelssohn, as well as a digital EP of English short pieces for violin and piano with Ian Buckle on the Rubicon Classics label.
In 2006, aged 17, Mark Simpson became the first ever winner of both the BBC Young Musician and BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer of the Year Competitions and is now emerged as a major new voice, both as clarinettist and composer. He enjoys a full publishing relationship with Boosey & Hawkes, and in 2015 was appointed Composer in Association with the BBC Philharmonic, a position he will hold for four years. Mark’s recent commissions include Israfel for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and The Immortal, a 35-minute oratorio commissioned with support from Sky Arts Futures Fund and IdeasTap, premiered by the BBC Philharmonic. Other recent commissions have been premiered at the Last Night of the Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, at Opera North, and at the Royal Albert Hall by the National Youth Choirs. As a clarinettist Mark is a passionate exponent of new music, having performed and recorded Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and John Adams’s Gnarly Buttons with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He performed the Nielsen Concerto at the 2015 BBC Proms with the BBC SO and Sir Andrew Davis. Recital appearances have included the Royal Festival Hall, the Sage Gateshead, and at festivals including Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bonn Beethovenfest, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Trasimeno, Lammermuir and Spitalfields, with premieres of works by Simon Holt, Jonathan Harvey and Edmund Finnis.
Vicci Wardman is established as one of the most in-demand and most versatile violists of her generation. She was a string finalist in BBC TV’s Young Musician of the Year while a student at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and was a founder-member of the Sorrel String Quartet which began life at the Royal Northern College of Music and went on to enjoy a busy international career, releasing several award-winning recordings on the Chandos label. On leaving the quartet in 2000, she took up the position of Principal Viola in the Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom she also appeared as soloist. She regularly performs as Guest Principal in a variety of orchestras, including the English Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and London Sinfonietta. A committed and sought-after chamber musician, she is a member of the Eroica Quartet, which is especially interested in research into performance practice; and has worked extensively with Hausmusik London and the Nash Ensemble. Until 2018 Vicci was Joint Principal Viola in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and she is Principal Viola in the John Wilson Orchestra.
Hugh Webb was Principal Harp in the Philharmonia Orchestra from 2001 to 2012 and since then he regularly freelances as Guest Principal harp with the Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and London Symphony Orchestras. He has worked extensively in contemporary music and has had pieces written for him with support from Arts Council England by Paul Archbold, Javier Alvarez, Ian Dearden and Robert Keely. Recent CD releases include Bax’s Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet with the Academy of St Martin’s Chamber Ensemble, a disc of solo and chamber music by Nino Rota, a CD of French Renaissance songs with the medieval group Joglaresa, the complete Sonatas for violin and harp by Spohr and Bax’s Fantasy Sonata. He gave the first performance of Cyril Scott’s Celtic Rhapsody as part of Sidonie Goossens’ 100th Birthday Celebrations at Wigmore Hall in 1999. Hugh also performs as a jazz harpist and has given recitals at the European Harp Symposium and the World Harp Congress. Also active as a composer he has written a children’s show based on The Snow Queen which toured throughout Britain. His solo pieces and chamber music are played by harpists all over the world and his music has been featured at the World Harp Congress in Amsterdam.