About Us

ABOUT US:
OUR HISTORY AND WHO’S WHO

History

Peter Fender had two wonderful holidays in the town of Scicli in south-east Sicily in 2013 and 2014, having been captivated by the TV series Sicily Unpacked and the Sicilian detective drama, Inspector Montalbano.  Then, in Summer 2014, he led his first orchestral course in that lovely corner of Sicily, and (Covid years aside) it’s been going ever since. 2024 sees the first orchestral course in Lugo, in Emilia Romagna, close to Ravenna and Bologna, another stunning location.

Then, Peter visited the Convento degli Angeli (the Montegral Academy) in 2023. He was stunned by its beautiful location, and the sense of history within the buildings themselves. He was given a warm welcome, and has devised a different type of course: not one where music and holiday would co-exist, where there would be time to visit the beach and local places of interest etc, but one more focussed on the music itself – and yet, one within a wonderful, empowering building and landscape.

Comments

Here are some comments from some of the many people who have been on Peter’s other courses:

“Probably one of the best courses of its kind.  Wonderful music in a fabulous location.” – RC, double bass.

“I love this course.   Playing good music is always enjoyable, but to do so in such a beautiful place, with good weather pretty much guaranteed – what could be better?” – LH, oboe

“Music course with a difference: good music, good wine, good food, good friends and good fun.” – MM, horn

Who’s Who

Peter Fender, conductor
Peter Fender, director

Peter Fender began his musical career as an early music specialist, playing the violin regularly with groups such as the Academy of Ancient Music, the Sixteen and the Hanover Band.  More recently his focus has shifted towards conducting and composing.  In 2007 he formed the orchestra Philharmonia Britannica, keen to create interesting juxtapositions by mixing music with other art forms – such as acting, poetry, dance, comedy or video.  He is also currently also the musical director of The Angel Orchestra, and the 6 Centuries Chamber Choir.  Aside from his native England he has conducted across Europe.  Known for his innovative programming, he has conducted many works by unjustly neglected female composers, including Imogen Holst, Ethel Smyth, Amy Beach and Louise Farrenc.

As well as a long and varied career in music teaching (teaching conducting, violin, viola and music theory), Peter has composed a wide variety of music (orchestral, choral, chamber music, songs, solo piano, and music for computer games) and has released three CDs of his music. As an arranger and editor he has worked on music by composers such as Imogen Holst, Ethel Smyth, Monteverdi and Haydn. Full details of his musical activities (plus a short film about him) are on his website.

Peter has travelled extensively within Italy, loves the language and the culture and has friends throughout the country – and he feels that a year is not a proper one unless it contains at least three Italian trips!

Alkyona String Quartet
The Alkyona String Quartet

The Alkyona String Quartet are well known for their warm connection to audiences and vivacious performances, and are ‘as vibrant and memorable as their ‘Kingfisher’ namesake’. They were Tunnell Trust Award Holders 20/21 and Making Music Selected Artists 21/22, and are the Royal College of Music String Quartet Fellows 2022-2024.

In 2023 they were guests at the Melbourne Quartetthaus Festival in Australia and Lichfield International Festival, and in 2024 are looking forward to a residency at the Lake District Summer Music Festival, and in Mallorca for Kirker Holidays. They were New Generation Artists at the Stift International Music Festival 2019 and are looking forward to performances at the Huygens Festival where they have been guests for the last 4 years, as well as appearing at numerous music societies both at home and abroad.

The quartet love collaborations across the arts and were the Ensemble in Residence for Leighton House Museum 2019-2023, and work closely with Latin American band Quimantu, Tabla player Kuljit Bhamra and dance company the Dutch Don’t Dance Division. They released their debut album, “Intimate Letters’ in June 2020 with Cegin Productions.

The quartet is grateful for mentorship from Simon Rowland-Jones and Marc Danel. They are also grateful for sponsorship from the Dutch National Music Instrument Foundation for the loan of Jobine’s C.18th Lefebvre cello and the Harrison-Frank Foundation for the loan of Emma’s 1713 Venetian violin.