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About the festival

Welcome! Founded by two members of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra leader Thelma Handy and cellist Alex Holladay, this young and exciting festival has one aim: to promote a love of classical music by making world-class chamber music exciting, accessible and inclusive for the Wirral community. 

"Friendly, inviting atmosphere & first class music."

Audience Survey, 2023

Driven by a passion for chamber music - classical music that is performed by small groups of musicians - this not-for-profit festival presents intimate and unique performances of the highest level in venues all across Wirral. We want everyone to feel welcome at our events, as we believe unforgettable live music is something everybody should experience. With an emphasis on participation and learning, we present several youth events each year, including those by our very own Youth String Quartet Academy.

We provide a fresh take on classical music to all of the Wirral, in welcoming and family-friendly settings... 

... and also work with local young musicians, enabling them to share the joy of performing together:

The festival team

Thelma Handy - Co-founder and Artistic Director

Thelma Handy

Thelma has been Joint Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, with whom she has also performed as director and soloist on numerous occasions. 


She has appeared as guest leader with many orchestras, including the Hallé, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, City of Birmingham Symphony, Manchester Camerata and the Real Filharmonía de Galicia. Throughout her orchestral career she has also worked extensively with the English Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields, the London Mozart Players and the London Symphony Orchestra.


Coming from a large musical family, Thelma spent much of her childhood playing chamber music in various formations, including a family recorder consort. She is in frequent demand as a chamber musician, recently collaborating with Catrin Finch and Julian Rachlin. She has worked in Japan with the Mito Chamber Orchestra and in France with the baroque chamber ensemble Orfeo 55. Closer to home, she regularly leads Ensemble 10/10, with whom she has made several recordings and performed at Wigmore Hall and on BBC Radio 3. 


In 2017 Thelma was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool.

Alex Holladay - Co-founder and Festival Director

Celia Goodwin - Youth Academy Director

Esther Ingham

Carol Keelan

With thanks to our festival volunteers:

Liz Clegg

Paul Clegg


Kate Carpenter

Tony McDermott

Thelma Handy

Alex Holladay

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