The faces behind the music...

...How many violists does it take to make a quartet?


Richard Crabtree

Richard is a confirmed and incurable violaholic as you will see: His early career was spent with The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Royal Philharmonia Orchestra, London Mozart Players, the original London Soloists Ensemble, Wessex Sinfonia, Clifton Virtuosi, Orchestra of the Swan, English National Baroque, and the Emerald Ensemble. Also, as a soloist he has recorded for BBC Radio 3, 4, BBC TV, ITV, Channel 4, Classic FM and Greek RTA. If that wasn't enough he teaches at Trinity College, Bristol University, and is on the faculty of Bath and Goldsmiths Universities and has coached and given master classes in Korea, Spain, Italy and France. He plays on a magnificent contemporary instrument by David Milward. In his free time he likes playing the viola - says it all, really.


Rachel Wilks

Rachel studied at Trinity College in London with the ubiquitous Richard Crabtree. Then, returning to her beloved Bristol, she worked with various UK orchestras, including BBC National Orchestra of Wales (where she first met Ross Cohen), Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and the English String Orchestra. She has also participated in numerous recordings for TV, and a season of Les Miserables at the Bristol Hippodrome. Having a natural immunity to viola jokes makes her the perfect player for Absolute Zero Viola Quartet. She also shares Ross's suspicions that some conductors might be from another planet.


Cecily Howick

Cecily studied at the Royal College of Music, London, at the same time as Ross, and frequently met him over the years when she regularly freelanced with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. She had previously held posts in the Bournemouth Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra before moving to the idyllic Malvern hills to continue her work as freelance violist and teacher. Cecily enjoys rehearsing with the group, particularly the coffee breaks and a chance to catch up with her colleagues; comparing notes (not always musical ones), and generally putting the world to rights. Traditionally, much rehearsal time is devoted to putting the world to rights - it really should be taught as a speciality subject at music college.


George Ewart

George was born with such a mass of lovely curly black hair the nurses cried when he left hospital. Of course, they might actually have been glad to see the back of him - he's not altogether certain on that point. At the age of seven he was taught the violin by his grandfather who was a cellist. This probably explains why he now plays viola (it's this sort of analytical reasoning that sets violists apart form regular people; 2 plus 2 can equal just about anything you like!) When George's playing began to cause the hens to stop laying, he was sent to Trinity College of Music in London, to study under Bela Katona, and after winning the Sascha Lasserson Prize he secured a position at the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden. Five years later George escaped the men in tights to pursue a life of bucolic bliss and teaching. He has built up a long-standing association with many local institutions, such as the English Symphony Orchestra, Cheltenham Chamber Orchestra, Hereford Cathedral School, and the Hop Pole in Leominster. George lives with his hairy daughter, Charlie, whose hobbies include beheading songbirds and purring loudly. George thinks the Alto Clef is the work of the Satan.

Ross Cohen

Born in London, Ross took up the viola at the age of eight because he felt sorry for it. He went to study at the Royal College of Music where he won the Cobbett and Hurlstone prize for chamber music composition. Then held two resident quartet positions, both in the UK and in Bermuda where he was a founder member of the Menuhin Foundation. Returning to the UK he then sampled the symphonic life, first with the Hallé Orchestra, then defecting to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He's now put all of that behind him and is currently enjoying a leisurely life as freelancer and composer/arranger. Although he still feels sorry for the viola with its peculiar Alto Clef, his sympathies now also lie equally with the hapless musicians who have to play them. He thinks violinists and conductors will be the first to the wall when the revolution comes. Flat-packs are definitely the work of The Devil.


Want to know more about us? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you: