Music at The Firs

There is no doubting Elgar’s musical genius. He believed ‘there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require’.

Growing up as a child at Lower Broadheath he was constantly surrounded by music, in the family home and in his father’s shop, and throughout his life he immersed himself in musical performance.

This is our wish for his birthplace, to fill the property and gardens with the joyous sounds of live music, music in all its forms from cello to dulcimer. 

Our emerging programme has got off to a fantastic start with the development of an innovative residency with Volante Strings.

Members of the group perform in various ensembles or as soloists in our performance space or in the beautifully tranquil cottage garden to surprise and delight our visitors. 

We have an active calendar of performances at the Firs, please have a look at our events page to see what might take your fancy

Below you will find information on the various groups that are and will be performing at Elgar's Birthplace.

Volante Strings - Member profiles

The Carice String Quartet

During December members of the Carice String Quartet performed original and arranged Christmas themed music by English composers for: string quartet, violin and piano, cello and piano and voice and piano.

The Carice quartet are made up of Graham Longfils (Violin), Anita Porter (Violin), Dorthy Wilson-Longfils (Viola) and Caroline Nuttall (Cello).

We hope to host them again soon.

Read about the Carice String Quartet here >>> (PDF / 0,3MB) download

The Malvern Piano Quartet

The quartet is made up of; Irena Percy (piano), Megan Webb (violin), Amanda Salmon (viola) and Janet Geerlings (cello).

The Malvern piano quartet is made up of members and associates of Volante Strings. Megan (violin) founded Volante Strings along with the late Angela Richey in 1999, having studied at Exeter University with the Dartington String Quartet and spending some years in Ghana studying African music.

Irena (piano) was born in Warsaw and studied at the Conservatoire there, achieving an MA in piano performance, followed by further studies at the RNCM.

Among her chamber music performances were piano trios with Angela, as well as teaching and accompanying in the Malvern area.

Amanda (viola) studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London, subsequently working at the BBC chamber orchestra in Bristol and later studying with Bruno Guirrana in Dortmund before settling in Worcestershire.

Janet (cello) studied at the Royal College of Music, London and later continued her studies with Joan Dickson. She went on to form chamber music groups in Milton Keynes and Brittany, before returning to the Three Counties where she now plays and teaches. 

They all share a passion for the riches of chamber music and hope this comes across in today's performance.

Members of the Malvern Piano Quartet
members of the Malvern Piano Quartet
Members of the Malvern Piano Quartet

Vocal Variations

Vocal Variations was founded in February 2004 by Pat Pennington who shared a passion for music in group form and solo singing at The Elgar Birthplace Museum. In 2016 we moved to Holy Trinity Church, Malvern and have performed with their church choir on many occasions. We have also performed during the August event at Worcester Music Festival (2008 – 2016) in the Lumby Room (Deansway School of Music)  raising money for Leukaemia Care.  I had the pleasure in taking the group over in 2017.

Vocal Variations is a group of amateur singers who have a love of music, performance and solo singing. We sing individual songs on a theme accompanied by professional accompanists. Everyone supports everyone else helping to develop confidence and expertise.

We all have a great time together at our meetings and once our singing has completed we enjoy a social cup of tea and homemade cake.We meet once a month, locally and are always looking for new members to our group.

For more information please contact Julia Winkworth ATCL on 07752 886204, email or check out our facebook group page under “Vocal Variations”

Janet Thomas (viola) and Ann Marshall (piano)

Janet studied at what was then the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern), before returning home to Birmingham to do her Cert.Ed. She was a string teacher with Solihull Music Service for 36 years, until her retirement in 2010. She is still very active as a player in various local orchestras and ensembles, including Volante Strings, of which she has been a member since 2001. 

Janet Thomas
Janet Thomas (Viola)
Janet Thomas

Hailing originally from Cheshire, Ann also studied at the RMCM, jointly as a violinist and pianist. She then lived and taught music in various places around the country, before eventually settling on the Worcestershire / Shropshire border.

We first met there in 2002, at a chamber music session. We have been playing together regularly ever since, both in the Bianchi String Quartet and as a duo.

Downside Up

Downside Up members Corinne Frost and Stephen Warner
Downside Up Corinne Frost and Stephen Warner
Downside Up members Corinne Frost and Stephen Warner

Stephen Warner

Having graduated with a First Class Honours from the Royal Academy of Music in 1989, where he studied double bass and guitar, Stephen began his career working in Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical, Aspects of Love. This led to an association with London’s West End that continues to this day and has seen Stephen's involvement in shows as popular as Sunset Boulevard, Company, Martin Guerre, Miss Saigon, My Fair Lady, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Producers and the current West End successes, Oliver, Sweet Charity and Love Never Dies.

His ability to swap between genres on either instrument has led to him working with backing groups for the like of The Moody Blues, Barbara Cook, Shirley Bassey and Lesley Garrett to name but a few.

However, Stephen is equally at home with the more classical repertoire and as Principal Bass with the English String Orchestra, a position he has held for the past 11 years, has worked with many world renowned artists including Vernon Handley, Jeremy Menuhin and Nigel Kennedy. He also works regularly with The BBC Concert Orchestra and often plays Bass Guitar for Welsh National Opera.

He continues to enjoy both the classical and lighter elements of his musical career and even finds time to do a small amount of teaching to pass on his experience and to encourage not only the players of the future, but, possibly more importantly, the future audience.

Corinne Frost

Corinne's first interest in playing came when she was three years old, and was taken to a concert where she fell in love with the cello. Lessons on a lovely old 1/8th size cello followed when she was five. At 17 she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where she studied with Dame Florence Hooton. Whilst there she won the Douglas Cameron Sonata Prize, May Mukle Concerto prize, and was awarded the L.R.A.M. (teachers) and the Dip. R.A.M.

After graduation Corinne was able to study with Pierre Fournier, having been awarded scholarships from the Royal Society of Arts and the Countess of Munster Musical trust. She then enjoyed a varied career of recitals and chamber music including recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room and Manchester Midday series. She was a prize-winner at the Royal Tunbridge Wells and Greater London Arts Young Musicians competitions.

In 1979 Corinne joined the Philharmonia Orchestra with whom she travelled extensively and worked with some wonderful conductors and musicians.

In 1993 she came to Worcestershire as co-principal cellist of the E.S.O. She taught at the Gloucester Academy of Music as senior cello teacher for some years. She is an Associate member of the C.B.S.O., loves teaching to all ages and enjoys being involved with a variety of chamber groups including The E.S.O, The London Mozart Players, The Kings Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Viva and Epiphany. As well as recitals Corinne teaches privately, coaches the E.S.O. Children’s and Intermediate Orchestra and plays in homes for the elderly in the Worcestershire area.

Corinne’s live performance of Forvantan with the Solihull Symphony Orchestra was recently played on Radio 3 as part of the ‘Play to the Nation’ series.