a touring and recording chamber orchestra founded by Sir Neville Marriner in 1958. Our Music Director is virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell.
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The Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble was created in 1967 to perform the larger chamber works—from quintets to octets—with players who customarily work together, instead of the usual string quartet with additional guests. Drawn from the principal players of the orchestra, the Chamber Ensemble tours as a string octet, string sextet, and in other configurations including winds. Its touring commitments are extensive and has included visits to France, Germany, Spain, Australia as well as North and South America. Contracts with Philips Classics, Hyperion, and Chandos have led to the release of over thirty CDs by the Chamber Ensemble.
“The ensemble played … with obvious pleasure, turning in a luminous and often-breathtaking performance that won the musicians a standing ovation.”
The Washington Post, October 2012
More reviews of the Chamber Ensemble.
Harvey de Souza – Violin
Harvey de Souza has been a member of the Academy since 1993 and has led the orchestra on tours with Sir Neville Marriner and soloists including Joshua Bell and Julia Fischer. As a member of the Chamber Ensemble he has performed extensively throughout South America, Europe and the USA.
Martin Burgess – Violin
Martin began playing with the Academy in 1992, taking up the position of Principal 2nd violin in 1998. Having studied with Emmanuel Hurwitz and the Amadeus Quartet he brought with him the love of chamber music. He also leads the Grammy nominated Emperor Quartet (winners of the prestigious Evian International String Quartet Competition).
Jennifer Godson- Violin
Jennifer Godson has been a member of the Academy since 1985. She was for many years a member of the Fairfield String Quartet with whom she toured extensively in Britain and abroad. She now leads a busy chamber and orchestral career and has a special interest in period performance.
Robert Smissen – Viola
Robert Smissen won a scholarship to Chethams School of Music at the age of 14, and went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music with David Takeno. While there he won prizes for chamber music and solo playing. After college he was appointed principal viola with the Northern Sinfonia, a post he held until 1986. He currently plays with the Academy, as well as other London chamber orchestras.
Fiona Bonds – Viola
(c) Bill Page
Fiona is Associate Principal Viola of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and enjoys a busy and diverse career outside the orchestra. She has recently been appointed Principal Viola of the City of London Sinfonia and is a founder member of the Grammy-nominated Emperor String Quartet, who have recently released a critically acclaimed disc of Benjamin Britten’s quartets.
Stephen Orton – Cello
Stephen Orton studied with William Pleeth at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1985 Stephen became principal cello with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields . He has been principal cello with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and the City of London Sinfonia and was also a member of the Delme Quartet for ten years. He has acted as guest principal cello with the London Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonia.
John Heley – Cello
John Heley was born in London, and began playing cello at the age of six and was later awarded a scholarship to study with William Pleeth at the Guildhall School of Music. In 1980 he left the post of sub principal cellist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to concentrate on freelance work. In 1986 he became associate principal cellist with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and began to perform with the Academy Chamber Ensemble in 1997.
In this video, members of the orchestra introduce the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble.