William Butt was born in London. His musical career started early, as a chorister in St.George’s Chapel, Windsor. Later he studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Moray Welsh and after winning awards and scholarships such as the Royal Society of Arts, Martin Trust and first prize in the Muriel Taylor competition, he furthered his studies with Antonio Lysy in Montreal. He now enjoys a busy career as soloist and chamber musician, and is professor of cello at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. On the concert platform he has performed extensively throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe and the Far East. He is a much-admired exponent of the solo cello repertoire, having performed and broadcast numerous works by contemporary composers, as well as the formidable solo sonatas by Kodály and Ligeti and the suites of Bach and Britten. In recent seasons he has appeared as soloist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St Cecilia and the Ulster Orchestra for BBC Radio 3. He has worked with conductors such as Alexander Anissimov, Gerhard Markson, Rumon Gamba, Vernon Handley and Barry Douglas.
His 2004 recording of the three suites for solo cello by Benjamin Britten by Warner Music UK (Warner Classics/Apex) received very positive reviews in the English press. He has performed and given masterclasses throughout Europe and China, and is constantly in demand as a chamber music player, something that he is passionate about.
William plays on a fine cello made by Giovanni Grancino in Milan (1690), and works regularly with his own string quartet the Esposito Quartet.
Rosalie Curlett began her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, graduating with a first-class honours degree in 2012. After several years of freelancing Rosalie was awarded a full-time position with the Ulster Orchestra, and moved to Belfast in February 2018.
Rosalie has performed regularly with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and the Hallé Orchestra, and has also performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She has been fortunate enough to perform all over the world in countries such as Germany, Poland, Spain and China, to name a few, and has recorded under Chandos and Deutsche Grammophon record labels.
Rosalie is a passionate teacher, and holds teaching positions at the Ulster College of Music, Victoria College and Campbell College in Belfast. She is a former string sectional coach at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music and now works closely with the outreach and education department of the Ulster Orchestra.
Martin Johnson studied cello at the Royal College of Music, London, under the direction of Anna Shuttleworth and the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Cello Concertmaster, Andrew Shulman. In 2000, he joined the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and moved to Dublin, where he was subsequently appointed Section Leader.
In January 2008 Martin made his debut as a soloist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, performing Saint-Saëns Concerto No. 1 in A minor Op.33. In January 2015 Martin gave the world premiere of Grainne Mulvey’s new cello concerto Excursions and Ascents as part of the RTÉ NSO’s 2015 Horizons Concert Series. Shortly afterwards, in March 2015, Martin made his eighth appearance as soloist with the RTÉ NSO performing the world premiere of Frank Corcoran’s brand-new Cello Concerto to critical acclaim. This has since been recorded on the RTÉ lyric fm Label and was released in June 2017.
As a soloist, Martin has given many other performances of concerti by Elgar, Robert Schumann, Joseph Haydn, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, Sir Michael Tippett, Delius, Corelli, Ibert, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and perhaps most notably Richard Strauss’s tone poem Don Quixote op.35 for cello and orchestra with the RTÉ NSO and conductor Pascal Rophé at Ireland’s National Concert Hall. Martin is due to give the World Premiere of a brand-new Cello Concerto by Shaun Davey in the autumn of 2021 with the RTÉ NSO.
Martin plays a fine cello by Thomas Kennedy of London c.1810 and an exceptional French bow by Eugene Sartory from the personal collection of the late and celebrated bow maker, Bernard Millant.
In 2006 Martin was invited to become a lifetime member of the World Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a Countess of Muster Scholar and is also supported by Music Network’s Music Capital Scheme, funded by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. Music Network is funded by The Arts Council.
Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh performs internationally as a soloist and chamber musician. She is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, U.S.A. and the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM), Ireland.
Ailbhe gave her debut recital at the National Concert Hall, Dublin with celebrated Irish pianist John O’Conor with whom she has recently recorded Beethoven’s five cello and piano sonatas. Ailbhe has appeared as a concerto soloist numerous times in Ireland and abroad. Performances include concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Yale Norfolk Festival, Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, St. Martin in the Fields and on television and radio. As a chamber musician, Ailbhe performs as part of The McDonagh Sisters with pianist Orla McDonagh. She is also a member of the Ficino Ensemble, The Belisama Trio and traditional Irish music group Trio Elatha.
Ailbhe is also an established composer with numerous compositions and commissions to date. Boosey & Hawkes have published two books of her piano music entitled It’s a Piano Thing. Current projects include It’s a Cello Thing, a collection of two books of cello music which will be published shortly. Keenly interested in performing contemporary music, Ailbhe collaborates with many composers worldwide and has recorded several CDs of contemporary music.
Ailbhe joined the cello faculty of the RIAM in 2010. Her debut solo CD It’s a Cello Thing was named ‘CD of the Week’ on Ireland’s national classical music station RTÉ lyric fm. Her Skellig album was released in 2020. She performs on a Postaccini cello.
Presented & Supported by
Arr. David Johnstone Clair de luneWolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Arr. David Johnstone Ave verum corpus KV 618J.S. Bach
Arr. Claudio Jaffe and Johanne Perron Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor (BWV 1004)Ludwig van Beethoven
Arr. Ailbhe McDonagh Adagio cantabile (2nd movement) from Sonata No. 8, Op. 13 “Pathétique”Conor Linehan
An Autumn Night’s Dream New Music Network CommissionAilbhe McDonagh
Sonata No. 10 in G majorGeorge Gershwin
Arr. Lee Armstrong ‘Summertime’ from Porgy and BessBéla Bartók
Arr. Lee Armstrong Romanian Folk Dances (Sz68)