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Centre for Advanced Training: Piano

Study Leader: James Craig

James joined the cello section of Royal Northern Sinfonia on completing post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Music. In 1995 a Northern Arts scholarship enabled him to study in Israel, Finland, France, Italy and England. Since returning, James has also taught extensively. For many years, he wrote and presented workshops in schools, including string quartet and composition coaching to A level standard. James has additionally given cello masterclasses in the Baccarelli Institute, Sao Paolo Brasil and as part of ‘Awards for Young Musicians’.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Venera Bojkova

Venera Bojkova (Piano & Harp)

Venera was born in Sofia, Bulgaria and studied at the State Conservatoire of Music. As a pianist, Venera has performed throughout Europe, in Russia, South Africa and the USA. She teaches piano at Sage Gateshead and Durham Universities, and is Music Director of Bishop Auckland Choral Society. As a harpist she studied with Suzanna Klintcharova in Sofia, and has performed as a soloist and orchestral harpist throughout the North East.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Kate Halsall Website size

Kate Halsall (Piano)

Kate grew up in the Eden Valley, Cumbria and trained at Royal College of Music with Kendall Taylor and Yonty Solomon. She has performed widely as a freelance pianist and with a number of ensembles, including for Aldeburgh Music, Banff Centre Canada, The Piano – Glasgow City of Music, Ockham’s Razor (Not Until We Are Lost), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Sonorities Festival Belfast, Michael Clark Dance Company (Oh My Goddess), Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Marte Festival Malaga, IUC Rome, Southbank Centre Imagine Children’s Festival, Multiple Piano Day BBC Proms and Ether Festival.

Kate is a visiting tutor at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and has been involved in many education projects both for schools and within higher education. She regularly works with composers, performing new work, and is a frequent collaborator for interdisciplinary projects with new technologies. Kate has releases on Metier, Squeaky Kate Music, NMC Recordings, Another Timbre and NMC | Birmingham Record Company.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Yoshie K

Yoshie Kawamura (Piano)

Yoshie was born in Japan Nagoya and has been a resident in the UK since she was 11.

She has given many performances worldwide where her main appearances were; in Germany 200th year of celebration for Chopin at Freiburg Musikhochschule, Switzerland Chamber Music Concert at Luzern Marianischer Saal, Berlin Chamber Music Festival Lunchtime Concert Series at Berliner Philharmoniker, and Netherlands International Stichting Apeldoon Festival. She was also invited to join the Berlin Philharmonic Quartet in performing Schumann’s Piano Quintet on their tour of Japan; subsequently she received an invitation from the Poznan Philharmonia to perform as a soloist in Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise in a series of concerts in Poland.

Her most recent appearances include Lunchtime Concert at King’s Hall Newcastle University, Brahms and Shostakovich piano trio at Sage Gateshead Hall 1 and Rachmaninov Suite no. 2 for two pianos at Durham Cathedral.

She studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Joan Havill and later went to Germany to further her studies with Prof. Mishory at Musikhochschule Freiburg. In 2013 she came back to the UK to receive her second master in Cultural Management at the Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Julia Kennard (Piano)

Julia is originally from Stockton-on-Tees where she began piano lessons at the age of nine with Marian Creaser. After leaving school she won an Associated Board Scholarship to study at The Royal College of Music in London. Her career since graduation has combined teaching, accompanying and performing; now her children have flown the nest she is once more resident in the North East of England.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Gemma Kost website size

Gemma Kost (Cello & Piano) 

Gemma studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Royal College of Music, after which she established a varied career as a freelance cellist.  She has performed with Royal Northern Sinfonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philharmonia and Opera North. Other performing  highlights include a ten-week European tour with Sting, festivals and touring with folk band The Unthanks, and an album recording with electro pioneer Anna Meredith. Gemma loves teaching, and hopes to pass some of her passion for live music onto the next generation. She has been Programme Leader of Foundation Strings since 2017.

Teaches on: Foundation Strings, Step Up Strings and Centre for Advanced Training

Antonia Laz website size

Antonina Lax (Piano)

Antonina studied piano at the Tyumen Art College in Russia, graduating with a bachelors degree in Piano Performing and Teaching and later with a masters degree. She also has a PhD in the History of the Russian Language and Culture. Antonina has taken part in many concerts as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician in Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine and England. After moving to England, Antonina participated in some of Changeling Productions and InterOpera Projects in the North East. She currently teaches piano at Barnard Castle School and prepares students for any grade or level up to MA.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training

Oona Prendiville (Piano)

Oona is originally from London where she began her music formation at the Purcell School of Music. She studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music with Frank Wibault and continued her Post Graduate studies at the Royal Northern College of Music with Sulamita Aronovsky. Her early career revolved around teaching (Junior Guildhall) and accompanying. She spent 14 years living in France and eight in the Netherlands. During this time she studied with Francoise Parrot-Hanlet at the ‘Ecole Normale, Alfred Cortot, taught piano from beginner through to diploma level, performed regularly works for 2/3 pianos, (Salle Cortot, Chateau Vaux le Vicompte) accompanied local church and school choirs, and was involved in producing educational music projects within local schools. She has recently moved back to the UK and is enjoying participating in the vibrant music world of the North East of England.

Teaches on: Centre for Advanced Training