Mendelssohn on Mull - Mentors 2013
Meet the Mendelssohn on Mull Mentors for 2013 - representing a wealth of experience from the chamber music world.

mentor chilingirian

Levon Chilingirian was born in Cyprus to Armenian parents and was introduced to music from a very early age through his pianist mother and violinist great uncle. When the Chilingirian family emigrated to London in 1960, Levon concentrated on the violin, studying at the Royal College of Music.  He is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music.  His early influences in music were his uncle, the violinist Manoug Parikian, his teacher Hugh Bean, musicologist Hans Keller, and the Amadeus Quartet.


His long-standing partnership with the late Clifford Benson was launched by winning the first prizes in both the 1969 BBC Beethoven Competition and the 1971 Munich Duo International Competition. Recital appearances took the duo to most European countries and their recordings include works by Schubert and Frank Bridge.


In 1971, along with cellist Philip De Groote, Levon founded the Chilingirian Quartet. Today, the Quartet is one of the most active and celebrated string quartets on the international scene with tours to over fifty countries on six continents. Its highly regarded and wide-ranging recorded repertoire spans classical to contemporary works.  The Quartet has been asked to lead the chamber music programme for El Sistema in Venezuela by Maestro José Antonio Abreu.


Levon also performs as a soloist, in recitals and concerto appearances with numerous orchestras, and with other chamber music partners. He performed the Sinfonia Concertante on the Amadeus soundtrack with Sir Neville Marriner and was invited by Steven Isserlis to lead a performance of the Schubert Quintet to end the millennium’s music at Wigmore Hall. He has been the artistic director and first violin of the Camerata Nordica in Sweden and is also the artistic director of the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival and of the Pharos Festival in Cyprus.


Levon received the Cobbett Medal and, in January 2000, an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List. In Armenia, he has organised two competitions for young string players and numerous chamber music festivals.

mentor crayford

Marcia Crayford made her Royal Festival Hall solo debut while still a student at the Yehudi Menuhin School and went on to perform concertos with Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Michael Tippett and Sir Simon Rattle.


For 25 years she was leader of the Nash Ensemble which has a remarkable worldwide reputation for its performances of a wide range of music. She has made many prize-winning recordings with the ensemble and her performance of the Elgar Violin Sonata was named the benchmark in the BBC Music Magazine.


On leaving the Nash Ensemble she was invited to lead the London Symphony Orchestra working with many of the great conductors. She has appeared regularly as guest leader with all the major orchestras, and some highlights include the last Star Wars film with John Williams and the LSO, performances at Covent Garden and concerts at the Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms with Donald Runnicles and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.


She is a mentor with the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival and at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. She is also Co-Artistic Director and leader of the Mid Wales Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Soloists, which also has a chamber music mentoring programme based in the Brecon Beacons, where she now lives.

Gaby Lester 200Gaby Lester - Violin 

Gabrielle (Gaby) Lester is an accomplished violinist born in London. As a founding member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe she worked for eight years as Principal 2nd Violin under several conductors including Claudio Abbado and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. 

Gaby has held principal violin positions with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra where she also sat on the Board of Directors. Now freelance, Gaby has led the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras. She is the leader of the Michael Nyman Band as well as being in demand as orchestra for film music recordings including Lord of the Rings and Dr Who.

Gaby has a corner in her heart which will always belong to chamber music. Her focus now is on mentoring young students at the Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music Festival and the Mendelssohn on Mull festival. With husband Jonathan Williams, Gaby runs the Orchestra Città Aperta in Fossa, Italy, and has recently been appointed Professor of Violin at the Royal College of Music in London.

Susie Mészáros - ViolaSusie Mészáros - Viola

Born in England, violist Susie Mészáros studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School. She is a professor at the Royal College of Music and has been principal viola with the Camerata Salzburg, as well as a regular chamber music partner of her teacher, violinist Sándor Végh.  

In 1977, she made her Wigmore Hall debut in a duo with Yehudi Menuhin and performed with Vladimir Spivakov and Arthur Grumiaux. She won the Gold Medal at the Royal Over-Seas League competition and was a string finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year. 

Susie was also co-founder of the Villiers Piano Quartet and leader of Kent Opera for several years, as well as leader of several chamber groups including the Fitzwilliam Quartet. She teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Purcell School. This is Susie’s fourth year as Mentor at Mendelssohn on Mull.

mentor ortonStephen Orton - Cello

Stephen Orton was born in Ripon, Yorkshire, where he had cello lessons with Pauline Dunn before winning a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with William Pleeth.  He has been principal cello with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and the City of London Sinfonia. 

He was also a member of the Delme Quartet for ten years and has a wide experience of chamber music playing the Schubert Quintet with the Chilingirian Quartet.  He has often acted as guest principal cello with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia.

In 1985 Stephen became principal cello with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and has played concertos with the orchestra and is also a member of the Academy Chamber Ensemble, touring internationally and making numerous recordings.  He has enjoyed coaching Vacation Chamber Orchestra and has been asked to take part at Dartington International Summer School.  This will be the fourth year he has taken part at Mendelssohn on Mull, encouraging and playing with students in concerts around the island.  He has recently taken up the invitation to join the Chilingirian Quartet after their cellist retired this year. 

The Mendelssohn on Mull Trust is enormously grateful to the UK Friends of the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Foundation who have supported Stephen’s position as mentor. 

Maggie MillerMaggie Miller - Viola

Mendelssohn on Mull - Music Makers

Maggie Miller
was born and educated in Perth and continued her viola studies with Michael Beeston at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, winning the Viola Prize in her fourth year. After graduating, she freelanced at home and abroad with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Scottish Ensemble, the BBC Radio Orchestra, the STV Orchestra and the City of Glasgow Philharmonic. She became a full-time member of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera in 1988 and returned to freelancing after the birth of her children. She has always enjoyed chamber music and has performed with many different ensembles. She toured extensively with the Glasgow Viennese Strings before becoming a founder member of the Trossachs String Quartet. She also played regularly with the Scottish Bach Ensemble with whom she performed the Telemann Viola Concerto. 

As well as directing the Mendelssohn on Mull Music Makers,  Maggie teaches violin and viola at Dollar Academy, coaches for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Scrapers and Tooters’ and has coached the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Children’s Orchestra. Maggie also works regularly for Artlink, bringing music into dementia wards.


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