Alun has been a professional violinist for more than twenty five years, playing in diverse roles in concerts, international touring and commercial and studio recordings, with many major UK chamber and symphony orchestras – as a principal player, leader and also as a section player. He is also active as a recitalist, soloist and chamber musician. He has a passion for teaching and is in demand across the board – for more informed ‘early’ lessons to those for professional players and other string teachers looking to improve their own performance skills. Increasingly, he divides his time between his own playing projects, teaching and writing about his work.
Some of my writing has finally made it to the Strad magazine…
Alun has given recitals on BBC Radio 3 in the ‘Young Music Makers’ series in works for violin and piano by Bloch and Fritz Kreisler and was a founding member of the Triptych piano trio, playing mainly contemporary works; he has also given many recitals through the UK with various pianists, including Francis Rayner (please listen to the recital clips in the audio section).
He has also performed in various projects with other well-known chamber groups: including the acclaimed contemporary music group, the Smith Quartet and with his own group, Chamber Spectrum Duo and Ensemble, giving recitals in less well known combinations, for example in with harpist Gabriella Dall’Olio and in recitals with other single strings – cello or viola.
Enjoying, especially, the solo violin repertoire, Alun has also given a number of recitals of the solo sonatas of Bach and also the works of Ysaye.
As a student he studied with Yossi Zivoni and Lydia Mordkovitch at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, leading the college symphony orchestra in his final year which included a performance of Tippett’s symphony no.4 in the presence of the composer. He was, for four years, also the leader of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales and one of the soloists with the orchestra in his final year, a concert broadcast on Welsh TV.
Latterly, Alun has been engaged in further developing his own playing and teaching, drawing on many of the ideas that comprise and intersect with the Alexander Technique and other psychophysical disciplines – and discovering ways of helping other do the same.
Throughout his professional career, he has spent much time exploring the craft of violin (he has developed and explored various designs of chin rest and collar-bone rest – all of which have helped to inform his own playing and teaching) and string playing and music making generally – with a view to maintaining the status of music education and string playing in a political climate that, increasingly, has made musical pursuits, especially, more difficult to maintain at a meaningful and purposeful level.
Also an experienced Alexander Technique teacher (mstat), Alun trained at the Brighton Alexander Centre in the early 1990s also studying as a postgraduate student at the Constructive teaching centre run by Walter Carrington. Until 2017 he was the senior Alexander teacher at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, where he was the department Coordinator for six years.
In 2016 he hosted, organised and presented at the 9th International Conference for Alexander teachers working in Music Education, at Trinity Laban in Greenwich.
Professional performing background
Alun has played regularly with many of the major symphony and chamber orchestras in the UK both in appointed posts, as guest principal, and in trials for various sub-principal positions:
Bournemouth Sinfonietta, (Co-principal second, 1985-1990, appointed during last year of college),
Northern Sinfonia, (regular freelancing, trial for Sub-Principal 1st Violin),
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (regular 1st violin, many tours and recordings)
London Mozart Players (regular freelancing)
Philharmonia Orchestra (freelancing)
Orchestra of London City Ballet, (guest leading and co-leading)
BBC Philharmonic, (trial for sub-principal 1st Violin, No.4 and regular 1st violin),
Britten Sinfonia (regular freelancing, 1990s)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, (guest principal second)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales (freelancing, 1990s)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (freelancing)
Concertising widely in many countries with some of the world’s most acclaimed musicians and conductors during the earlier part of his career and now presenting his Alexander teaching work internationally, Alun has tried to find time to explore his playing further with reference to some of the discoveries he’s made along the way. Making a connection between the great players of the past and enlightened modern pedagogy has become something of an obsession for him!
Alun has, in another sense, returned to the wonder that he felt as a child and then as a student violinist, seeing clearly, despite a most rewarding couple of decades in the music profession… the gaps in his development and the sometimes misleading pedagogy that still persists. Though there is no shortage of excellent players today, it’s his belief that there are countless others who could benefit from a more integrated approach to music, string playing, and the violin in particular.
He has set up a series of workshops entitled ‘Singing the Fiddle’, to address his interests and desire to communicate psycho-physical approaches to learning. These have been attended by professional orchestral and chamber music players alike, and teachers and students of all age levels of attainment.
Alun had his first Alexander lessons in the early 1980s with Vivienne Mackay whilst a student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and later studied with the ‘first generation’ teacher, Tony Spawforth, in Bournemouth, whilst a member of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta.
He has taught AT to players at all levels and has given workshops to diverse groups, including other Alexander teachers, on the subject of musicians’ preparation and the basics of natural playing. He also works regularly with younger people, giving private lessons to children from 8 – 18yrs.
Teaching and workshops / Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Alun was Alexander Technique Coordinator at Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music in Greenwich for six years, and has much experience working with musicians in the profession and students intending to enter it. His work is in high demand and he is regularly asked to present his work at conferences and in workshops. He organised, hosted and presented the 9th International Conference for Alexander teachers working in Music Education, at Trinity Laban in 2016, attended by many leading teachers worldwide.
He has presented his work at two international congresses – in Lugano, Switzerland and in Limerick – both on the subject of Musicians’ preparation.
He has also taught instrumentalists and singers at the Guildhall School of Music and given workshops for several professional orchestras, including the orchestra of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. He has worked with actors, other performers and sportspeople as well, such as Richard Wilson and other actors including members of the RSC.