Alissa Firsova (WPO President)

Alissa is a British-Russian pianist, composer and conductor. She studied piano and composition at the Purcell School, followed by the Royal Academy of Music, where she recently completed the postgraduate conducting course under Colin Metters. In Oct 2013, Alissa had her triple-debut with the English Chamber Orchestra in Cadogan Hall, directing Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto, and conducting her own Serenade for Strings, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations and David Matthews’ 4th Symphony.

As a pianist Alissa gave her Wigmore Hall and Proms debuts in 2009 and has appeared in Dartington, Cheltenham, Presteigne, Messiaen at Southbank, Fuerstensaal Classix and Seattle festivals. She has also performed at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall and Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, as well as in numerous venues throughout France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the USA. After winning the BBC Proms/Guardian Young Composer competition in 2001, Alissa received numerous commissions including a Bach transcription for the 2010 Proms festival.

Alissa performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor with the orchestra in March 2016, Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini in November 2017 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in November 2018.

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Erika Curbelo is studying Classical Trumpet at the Royal College of Music, with a Jane Barker scholarship. This year she was selected for the English National Opera pathway scheme, and shortlisted for the BBC Symphony Orchestra scheme. Erika has played with high quality orchestras for many years, starting at the age of 12 holding the principal seat for the National Children's Orchestra of GB where she also held the Leverhulme Trust Scholarship, and moving on to the National Youth Orchestra of GB for five years, where she performed yearly at the BBC Proms. As well as Classical music, Erika plays Jazz, Pop and Musical Theatre. 

Erika performs Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with the orchestra in February 2019.


British Soprano Elizabeth Karani studied at Royal Northern College of Music and on the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Opera Course. She was a Young Artist at the National Opera Studio for 2016/17.
Professional roles include for The Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Opera Holland Park, Longborough Festival Opera, Garsington Opera, Buxton Festival Opera, La Serenissima (Venice), Mid Wales Opera, Aldeburgh, Diva Opera, British Youth Opera and Teatro Verdi (Montecatini).

Elizabeth has made her concert debuts at the Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Xi’an Concert Hall (China), Musique Cordiale (Provence) and at La Folle Journée (Nantes). She will make her Gasteig (Munich) debut with Die Münchner Philharmoniker in 2019.

Awards include the Elizabeth Harwood Award, the Dame Eva Turner Award, the Harold Rosenthal Award, the Elsie Thurston Prize, a Kathleen Ferrier Young Singer’s bursary and a Countess of Munster Award. She is a Les Azuriales, an Equilibrium and a Park Lane Group Young Artist and is part of the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme 17-19.

Elizabeth performs with the orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in March 2019.

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New Zealand tenor Thomas Atkins is a recent graduate of the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and an alumnus of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He has attracted serious attention from the onset of his studies and has been kindly supported by the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation. This season sees Atkins making company and role debuts as Lysander (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) at Opéra de Montpellier and as Rodolfo (La Boheme) with New Zealand Opera. He also returns to Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne Festival, where he was a Jerwood Artist in 2016. On the concert platform he joins Marin Alsop and the London Symphony Orchestra in performances of Bernstein’s Candide.

Concert appearances include performances at the Yakushiji Otobutai in Japan with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, excerpts from Der Rosenkavalier with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder, Tippett - A Child of Our Time, Mozart - Requiem, Dubois - Seven Last Words of Christ, Vaughan Williams - Mass in G Minor, Handel - Messiah, Verdi - Requiem at Walthamstow Town Hall, Mozart - Requiem in Switzerland, Rossini - Stabat Mater and opera galas in Budapest. He has also performed numerous roles At the Royal Opera House.

Atkins was a finalist in the Guildhall School of Music & Drama Gold Medal in 2015 and is the recipient of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama award, Sheila Prior Prize, the Phoebe Patrick Award and the Vianden International Summer School Award, all from the 2012 IFAC Australian Singing Competition.

Thomas performs with the orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in March 2019.

Alexandra Lomeiko began violin lessons in 1996 in Christchurch, New Zealand.  In 2006, Alexandra moved to London to study at the Purcell School of Music. She commenced her postgraduate studies in September 2014 at the Royal College of Music where she is a Lark Scholar supported by a Leverhulme grant and by a Countess of Munster Musical Trust award.

Alexandra has performed in venues including Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Hall and Wigmore Hall. A laureate of many competitions, Alexandra is an avid freelance chamber musician and is also a founding member of the Alluto Trio which regularly performs across the UK and abroad. As an orchestral musician Alexandra is a member of the Russian Virtuosi of Europe, casual performer for the Oxford Philomusica and the London Symphony Orchestra with whom she collaborates through her placement on the LSO String Scheme.

Alexandra performed Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major with the orchestra in March 2017.

Andrew Knights is well known to audiences in the South of England having appeared over 100 times as a soloist with his former orchestra, the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He studied at the Royal College of Music, and subsequently in Paris at the Berlin Philharmonic Academy with a scholarship from the Karajan Foundation. Andrew’s professional career has seen him playing with the Berlin Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Lyon Opera and BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as distinguished service as Principal Oboe of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He played all the major oboe solos while a member of the Sinfonietta, and most recently recorded the Mozart Oboe Concerto for Guild Records. He has won many prizes for his oboe playing, notably in the Prague International Oboe competition and the Leeds International Instrumental Platform. He has been invited as a soloist to play in France, Germany and Italy as well as in many South American countries.

Andrew performed the Strauss Oboe concerto with the orchestra in November 2016.

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Sarah Bennett is Second Flute with The Hallé orchestra in Manchester. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a distinction, and the prestigious DipRAM award. Her postgraduate studies were very kindly supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. Sarah has played Guest Principal with Northern Ballet, Royal Northern Sinfonia and BBC National Orchestra of Wales and also freelances with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, English National Ballet, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Scottish Opera, Opera North, and Oxford Philharmonia.

Sarah joined Catrin Finch to give performances of William Matthias's Flute and Harp Concerto Melos with Sinfonia Cymru on a tour of Wales. She was chosen to record Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Great Gatsby ballet for a studio recording with Northern Ballet, which included movements from his Flute Concerto. She was a founding member of the award winning flute trio 'Tempest'. They were selected to be artists for the Manchester Midday Concert Society and the Park Lane Group. They have given recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and St.Martin-in-the-Fields.

Sarah performed the Nielsen Flute Concert with the orchestra in June 2018.