Polly is a violinist who has been working with children and music for the past 20 years. Married with four children, she lives with her family in Somerset where she works as a freelance violinist and peripatetic music teacher. Polly is also studying for a Masters in Music Therapy at University West of England.
After completing a degree in music at Manchester University Polly spent many years living and working in Spain where she was involved in the founding of three music schools in villages where music education was scarce. During this time she performed regularly with chamber ensembles and orchestras, alongside teaching commitments.
Since moving to Somerset in 2013 Polly has completed the training for a certificate in Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Polly performs regularly with the Taunton Sinfonietta and the Dorset Chamber Orchestra and conducts a local adult choir.
Polly's musical education was greatly influenced by a privately run annual chamber music week in Wales. It was on these camping weeks, which also involved a lot of outdoor activity in the Welsh countryside, that she really developed a passion for playing chamber music, particularly the quartet repertoire.
Polly has been a course tutor at Magdalen Farm Strings since its founding in 2007.
Rebecca studied music at Birmingham University. She was then accepted on to the acclaimed specialist strings PGCE course at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) whilst simultaneously continuing her post-graduate viola studies with Louise Lansdown. It was during this time that Rebecca discovered Dalcroze, and found its movement based approach to musical learning to be hugely complimentary to her instrumental development. She gained a distinction for both her viola postgraduate Diploma recital and her Dalcroze certificate. Rebecca enjoys dividing her time between working as an instrumental and Dalcroze teacher, and also as a freelance viola player.
Since leaving college in 2007, Rebecca has taught weekly Dalcroze class as well as instrumental string lessons to children aged 4-18yrs on various programmes. For the past 11 years, she has taught Dalcroze at Junior RNCM and the Young Strings programme at RNCM. Rebecca also set up Manchester Young Musicians in 2008 - independent Dalcroze musicianship and instrumental classes, which really expanded and flourished over the years. Rebecca stepped down from her teaching in Manchester this year to move to Bristol to live with her partner. She is now teaching Dalcroze at the Junior Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) and is very excited to be embarking on developing new Dalcroze classes and String teaching in the Bristol area.
Rebecca has developed many strategies to integrate Dalcroze into her string pedagogy and teaching. She has been invited to teach Dalcroze on many nationally renowned string residential courses. Since 2014 Rebecca has been on the faculty for New Virtuosi, an international course for talented violinists, directed by Ani Schnarch from the Royal College of Music. Rebecca was delighted to join the faculty at ConCorda this year, the national chamber music programme for youngsters in Ireland.
For the last 10 years, Rebecca has also been the viola player in the Unthanks, a contemporary folk band. They were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2009, won Best Album at the BBC Folk Awards in 2016, and are the only British folk representation in The Guardian's and Uncut's best albums of the last decade.
Bonnie Schwarz is a classically trained multi-instrumentalist (and past magdalen participant) from Dorset with a holistic musical and theatrical background. She has just returned from New Zealand after touring with her band 'Good Habits' as a singer-cellist. In 2019 she graduated from the University of Manchester with First Class in Music and Drama, receiving the Hargreaves Fund Prize for Composition in recognition of excellence. In her final year she specialised in Composition, Film Composition, Sound Design, and Theatre in Prisons. She then went straight on on to join The Wishing Well band on their European Tour as a cellist.
Bonnie also works as a freelance multi-disciplinary artist: Composer, Singer-Cellist and Sound Designer. Her work includes productions and screenings at Battersea Arts Centre (London), Contact Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, HOME Cinema (Manchester); collaborations with Manchester poets including Keisha Thompson and Roma Havers; and as a resident recording artist with HQ studios.
Alma Orr-Ewing graduated with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Music from the University of Leeds in 2019. During this three-year course, the viola became her passion: she achieved firsts in all her recitals, with Alistair Vennart as her instrumental teacher. In her final year Alma helped to found The Headrow Quartet, performing at venues in and outside the university, as well as collaborating with various other musicians and ensembles. In October 2019, The Headrow Quartet was featured on Radio 3’s In Tune programme. Alma was also a member of the Leeds University Union Symphony Orchestra, touring with the orchestra to Berlin and Amsterdam.
In February 2019 Alma attended the ProCorda Conservatoire Viola Course in Suffolk, tutored by Louise Lansdown, Robin Ireland and Lucy Nolan. Subsequently she was invited to Italy to take part in the Festival Quattro Cordi in Sant Agata Feltria, where she performed solo at a concert in the world’s oldest wooden theatre.
Alma has just embarked upon a two-year MMus in Instrumental Performance at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Diane is a violinist and has been a member of the Irish Chamber Orchestra since 1998. She has played principal with all the Irish orchestras and has toured the world with many prestigious ensembles such as the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the European Union Chamber Orchestra. In other genres she has performed alongside and recorded with Sir Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, The Corrs, Bono, Shania Twain, Katie Melua and plays in her own gypsy jazz trio. She is currently undertaking an Arts Practice PhD and is the recipient of a scholarship from the Irish Research Council. She is course director of the MA in Classical String Performance in the University of Limerick where she also teaches Dalcroze, Kodaly and improvisation.