Our Mentors 2019

David Horne

David Horne has published over 90 works, receiving commissions from major soloists, orchestras and ensembles including Evelyn Glennie, Scottish Opera, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. His music is frequently commissioned and performed abroad, including recently at festivals in Berlin, Paris, Rome, Singapore and Strasbourg. He is active as a pianist and won the piano section of BBC Young Musician of the Year while a teenager. David is highly sought after as an educator and leads projects and workshops for major organisations across the UK. As a researcher he has given presentations in the UK and abroad.  Boosey and Hawkes publish all his compositions and he has been recorded on BMG and NMC labels among others. He is a Professor of Music and Head of the Graduate School at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK, where he supervises research students and teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

David Horne


Immersed in the legacy of alumni such as Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr, Sally Beamish and Emily Howard, the RNCM School of Composition is a laboratory of invention.

With a clear focus on helping composers develop their own personal style and professional skills, the RNCM programmes offer intensive one-to-one training, classes in compositional techniques and electro-acoustic composition, masterclasses with eminent composers, and departmental seminars. Composers try out new work in the regular Composer Labs and enjoy live performances of their pieces by the Brand New Orchestra, the only conservatoire in the world to offer such performances to all their students, and the New Ensembles.

The regular festivals focussing on the work of living composers and new music provide additional opportunities for student composers to showcase their work, and the RNCM’s relationship with professional industry partners (such as the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Singers, Psappha, the Northern Ballet School, and the Filmmaking and Creative Writing courses at Manchester Metropolitan University) bring real-world experiences and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Heléna Walsh:

Heléna Walsh is a composer and instrumentalist based in the UK. She currently studies on the ‘joint course’ at the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester, where she studies with Larry Goves.

She has worked with the BBC singers, the London Sinfonietta, the Psappha ensemble and musicians from a range of backgrounds to aid the development of her works.

Her music is instrumental and electronic, and often accompanies a range of media including dance, spoken word and film. Heléna often performs her own and others’ new works on piano, cello and live electronics, and plays piano in the chamber ensemble ‘trio X’.

Before higher education, Heléna studied piano, vocal studies and later composition and cello at the Junior Birmingham conservatoire. At this time, her works for chamber ensemble had been awarded by the EPTA composition competition and recognised by the PROMS Inspire composition competition, and her piano performances were also given first and second prizes in regional competitions.

Much of Heléna’s music can be found on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/helena-walsh-266354487

And updates about her upcoming works can be found on her social media:



Website: hwalshie.wixsite.com/hwalsh

Athanasia Kontou:

Athanasia Kontou was born in 1995 in Kozani, Greece. She started composing at the age of 19, studying privately with Dr. Panos Demopoulos. Three years later, she was awarded with an entrance scholarship for the Masters in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music. Her studies there were also supported by the Garner Howard award. She completed her degree last summer. This year, she is continuing her studies at the RNCM with the Postgraduate Diploma course, onto which she was accepted with a scholarship. She is currently learning with Adam Gorb, David Horne and Laura Bowler.

Athanasia won first prize for the first work she composed, ‘2+3’, for solo piano, at the 2015 AnArt Artistry competition in Athens, and was the recipient of the RNCM Patricia Cunliffe composition award for two years in a row. Her music has been workshopped by the BBC Singers, the Elias String Quartet and ensemble deCompagnie (BE). She has been commissioned amongst others by the Purcell School of Music and the RNCM New Ensemble. Her first orchestral work was premiered by the Antwerp Symphony orchestra in May 2017. Other works of hers have been performed in various festivals and venues in London, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Greece.

This year, two of her works will be performed in Psappha Ensemble’s Manchester season. She will also participate in Psappha’s Composing for Scheme, as part of which she will collaborate with Miloš Milivojević to write a solo piece for accordion.

A keen performer, she obtained her Diploma in Piano Performance in 2017, studying with Dimitris Demopoulos. Athanasia often premieres contemporary works for piano and plays piano and keyboards in the free-improvisation group Room338.  She also holds a B.Sc in Computer Science from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Website: www.athanasiakontou.com/

Zakia Fawcett:

Zakia Fawcett is a composer, performer and artist studying composition and viola at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Previously they were home educated until attending the Purcell School of Music for sixth form. Zakia writes and performs a broad range of music/sound with a particular interest in creating experimental performance pieces. Their compositions have been performed at events ranging from Commonwealth concerts for The Queen to contemporary arts exhibitions, with recent premiers at Plug Contemporary Music Festival and the Southbank Centre. Alongside her formal education they have attended courses with ‘Dead Rat Orchestra’ and improviser Neil Brand. Collaboratively, they worked with sound for ‘The Lover’ (2018), a co-production between Stellar Quines, Scottish Dance Theatre and The Royal Lyceum Theatre and is a composer and performance artist with the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. Their work with this programme featured again in a concert at The Pumphouse in June. Zakia’s work for solo viol and electronics was shortlisted for the NCEM Young Composers Award 2019.

James Waide:

James is a Composer who lives, works and studies in Manchester. He completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Hull before moving to Manchester to study a Master’s Degree in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music. He is currently studying with Larry Goves and Steven Daverson.

His previous compositional work includes working with the University of Hull Camerata, the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and with soloists including pianist Graziana Presicce. Future projects will include a collaboration with the Manchester Camerata. He is also a founding member of the RNCM Composer’s Collective, a new-music ensemble which explores experimental and improvisatory musical styles.

Website: jameswaide.wordpress.com/

Robert Laidlow:

Robert Laidlow is a composer and performer based in London and Manchester. His music has been performed and broadcast worldwide and has received national and international awards. His work often incorporates his background as a jazz saxophonist and interest in scientific collaboration. He is the PRiSM Researcher in AI-Assisted Composition in association with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Northern College of Music.

Recently he has been commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Barbican Centre (2019/20 season), guitarist Fabio Zanon, the International Festival of Campos do Jordao, Access Contemporary Music Chicago, and the violist Katherine Clarke. This year he is an Artist-in-Residence in Aldeburgh, supported by Wild Plum Arts and the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Robert’s string quartet Aroha was premiered by the Elias Quartet at Wigmore Hall in May 2019 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and his Three Entistatios for Chamber Ensemble was performed by the BBC Philharmonic at the University of Salford Research Festival in July 2019. His music has also been performed by groups including Ensemble Modern, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Psappha, the Milwaukee Symphony and Ballet, the Britten Sinfonia, the Berkeley Ensemble and the Hermes Experiment.

Website: www.robertlaidlow.co.uk

Bofan Ma:

Bofan Ma is a Manchester-based composer/multidisciplinary artist. Originally from China, he makes music, he creates music scores, and he directs performances that represent his music. Currently a RNCM-funded PhD candidate (supervised by Prof Emily Howard, Dr Larry Goves, and Dr Joshua Edelman), Bofan is interested in an intricate entanglement between sound and actions. His work often calls for preconditioned improvisations, and a responsive performance framework. He is a member of the RNCM Experimental Exploratory Music Research Centre (EEMRC).

Bofan has worked with ensembles/initiatives including Shanghai Conservatory Chinese Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Mise-en, PRiSM, Ensemble X.y, Vonnegut Collective, and Music Theatre Wales. His music has been heard across the globe, namely in the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival; the Mise-en International Music Festival (New York); the Hearing Art Seeing Sound (HASS) International Festival (Yerevan, Armenia); and Darmstädter Ferienkurse (Darmstadt, Germany).

Website: www.mabofan.com

Isabel Benito Gutiérrez:

Isabel Benito Gutiérrez is a pianist and composer based in the UK. Many of her pieces are linked to fine arts in different ways. She frequently collaborates with international video artists, painters and poets.

Her music has been performed by Cantabria, BCN216 and 10/10 ensembles and other performers such as Nina Whiteman, Jason Alder, Agustín Fernández, etc, in venues such as RNCM, FACT in Liverpool, Fundación Botín, L’Auditori in Barcelona among others.

Isabel is finishing a PhD in composition at the RNCM supervised by the composers Prof Adam Gorb and Prof David Horne and the art historian Dr Fionna Barber.

Website: isabelbenitogutierrez.wordpress.com/

Nate Chivers:

Nate Chivers is a Composer/Guitarist from Western Massachusetts currently based in Manchester, UK where he is a PhD student at the Royal Northern College of Music. His Supervisors are Mauricio Pauly, David Horne, and Rodrigo Costanzo. He has been performed in the US, UK, China and France by groups such as the ALEA III, Music Theatre Wales, BBC Singers, Kinetic, RNCM Percussion Ensemble, Psappha, and has appeared on BBC Radio 3. He was recently accepted to the PSappha ‘Composing for…’ scheme where he is commissioned to write a piece for Sitar. As an electric guitarist he has played solo recitals and in ensembles and orchestras across the US, UK, and Germany. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and Royal Northern College of Music where he got his BMUS and MMUS respectively.

Website: https://www.nchiverscomposer.com/

Eden Longson:

Eden Longson is a Manchester-based composer and musician. Currently studying for his Master’s Degree in composition at the Royal Northern College of Music, Eden composes music spanning chamber to full orchestral forces. Eden is also an avid film composer, having composed several short films and games, mainly for students in Manchester, Derby, and Huddersfield, as well as the University of Connecticut. Eden also enjoys a professional career as a drummer, performing with several function bands and jazz outfits.