Principal Viola

Julian started playing the viola at age thirteen and very soon realised he wanted to make music his profession. He studied, at first with a very fine Peripatetic Teacher, Pamela Blythe, with whom he is still in touch. Whilst still at school, further studies took him to London with Harry Danks, (Principal Viola of the BBC Symphony Orchestra) and then to the Royal Academy of Music, where he was taught Viola by Gwynne Edwards (Principal Viola LSO) and Chamber Music by Sidney Griller.


On leaving The RAM he immediately secured a position with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, remaining for 39 years. He played under Music Directors Louis Fremaux, Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons as well as countless other world renowned conductors. He frequently played chamber music with other members of the CBSO and visiting Soloists, including Andrew Litton, Ian Partridge, and Lisa Batiashvili.


In the musical education field, Julian was an early adopter of, and enthusiastic participant in the CBSO’s outreach programme.


He devised, wrote and published several schemes, for use by himself and other players in schools, based around Stravinsky’s “The Firebird”, Vaughan Williams “London Symphony” and Copland’s “Billy The Kid”. He also worked extensively in Special Needs schools and Organisations, taking specially designed projects of his own devising to children and adults, when it was not possible for them to attend concerts at Symphony Hall. He also enjoyed giving talks and demonstrations to Music Societies, Adult Learning classes and School Groups about the Viola and specific CBSO repertoire in concerts they were to attend.


Over the years Julian has helped many performers with their playing and he has a keen interest in helping young people, both those wanting to join the profession and those who simply wish to have music as part of their lives. Whilst with the CBSO he was a frequent mentor for viola students from Birmingham Conservatoire/CBSO’s “String Training Scheme”.


Now semi retired, Julian is Principal Viola of the TKFO, now renamed The Sinfonia Stellaris and also works for anybody who requires him, plays string quartets, walks his Golden Retriever “Dylan”, annoys his partner Janet by being under her feet and helps to look after his three grandchildren. His hobbies are cooking, Hi-Fi and photography. He is also attempting to learn to play the Theremin.