Biographies

Rachel Hickman  Mezzo Soprano

 

  Rachel’s passion for music and the arts was evident from a early age.  As a child, she excelled as a Violinist & Pianist winning several competitions.  She gained a place at Birmingham Conservatoire studying Voice and Piano in 1985.

  Whilst at college Rachel won several competitions and was a finalist in the Reginold Vincent Leider Prize, the Mario Lanza Opera Prize and the John Ireland English Song Competition,  graduating with distinction in 1989.

 

  She made her professional debut with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company which led her to America where she performed in the Orange County Festival in Los Angeles.  Rachel joined Garsington Festival Opera for the British premier of Agyptische Helena, playing the role of an Elfin!  Other roles for Garsington Festival Opera include:  Bridesmaid (Marriage of Figaro, Mozart)  Madame de La Rosa (La Gazetta, Rossini), Spirit (Genoveva Schumman).  

Rachel moved to Vayrac, France in 2000 whilst there she performed regularly as a concert artist and was appointed Head of Vocal Studies at the Ecole d'Musique, Sousyrac. 

  In 2003 Rachel returned to the UK with her two children and moved to Pembrokeshire,  she now has  a thriving private teaching practice and is regularly seen on the concert platform.

Steve Stewart Soprano Cornet & Piccolo Trumpet

Steve started playing the cornet at the age of 8, joining the Armadale Burgh Band soon after. Aged 12, he joined the Kirkintilloch Band on 3rd cornet and within 3 years had progressed to the soprano cornet chair. The following year (1984) he won the Scottish Championships under the baton of Professor Walter Hargreaves. In 1984 he made his debut at the National Championships of Great Britain, held in the Royal Albert Hall. With Kirkintilloch he won another Scottish Championships in 1985 and made his debut at the European Brass Band Championships in 1986.

As well as playing the soprano cornet, Steve is also an accomplished trumpeter and in 1986 was a brass finalist in the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. In 1986 he moved to London to study with James Watson at the Royal Academy of Music. At the Academy he won all the major brass and wind prizes.I n 1988, James Watson  invited him to play soprano cornet with the Desford Colliery Band, a position he held until 1991. During his time with Desford he won two National Championships, one of which was the historic ‘four in a row’ in 1991 performing Robert Simpson’s, Energy.

After many years working as a freelance trumpet player, Steve returned to the Kirkintilloch Band winning a further two Scottish Championships in 2002 and 2007 as well as the Grand Shield in 2001.

In 2011 Steve was awarded the Best Instrumentalist prize at the Grand Shield with the Kirkintilloch Band. Later that year he took up the offer of Dr Robert Childs to join the Cory Band and has not looked back.

2012 will be looked back upon as a memorable one for Steve as he won the Welsh Championships and the Brass in Concert title with Cory. He also won the soprano cornet prize at the British Open along with the Best Soprano and Best Soloist prizes at Brass in Concert. The best soprano award at BIC being his personal fourth in a row at that contest! At the end of 2012 Steve was awarded the 4barsrest Player of the Year. 

Since 2013 with Cory, Steve has won the European Championships three times(2013,2016 & 2019), the National Championship four times(2013, 2015,2016 & 2019), the British Open three times(2016,2018 &2019) and Brass in Concert a further five times(2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019) with 2016 & 2019  being  Grand Slam years.

As well as a second and third best soprano award at the British Open and a fifth and sixth best soprano award at the Brass in Concert Championships, in 2019 Steve was awarded the Best Instrumentalist prize at the National Championships of Great Britain, in the Royal Albert Hall.

For Ken Ferguson's biography, please click here