Chamber Babies 2016

Live Classical Music for Little Listeners


Saturday 26 November 2016
10.30 am and 11.30 am

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Alan McClure violinjonathan-reaalan-mcclure

Jonathan Rea piano



Alan McClure grew up in Ballymena and began learning the violin at the age of 14 after hearing Beethoven’s violin concerto – he went on to perform the piece both in Ireland and in the USA.  Alan works with many distinguished orchestras in Ireland, the UK and the USA and currently performs chamber music with the Ireland String Quartet.  A fluent improviser in many styles including jazz and rock, he is also in demand as a session musician.  His teaching was recently featured in BBC2’s documentary Composer Yourself where he helped some beginner players prepare for a performance with Camerata Ireland.

Jonathan Rea studied music at Cambridge University.  He then spent 15 wonderful years teaching music in Bangor Grammar School before beginning a new career as a freelance musician.  He is now active as a conductor, pianist, composer and producer, with a wide range of clients including BBC and RTE.  He has produced and conducted commercial recording sessions with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra as well as several more intimate albums with local performers.  Occasionally he speaks at seminars and workshops, focusing on worship, music and church life – with a particular interest in the creative use of choirs.

Sunday 2 October 2016
10.30 am and 11.30 am

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Les Neish tuba

Martyn Parkes piano

Known for his musicianship, artistry and high level of communication, Les Neish dazzles audiences with fabulous technique and the real essence of music making: fun.

Performing the first solo tuba recital at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Les has always pushed the boundaries, leading him to a performance at Millennium Park, Chicago and recording with pop star Sting. 2018 will see a partnership with the Black Dyke Brass Band as soloist-in-association. Away from solo performance, Les is part of the tuba section of the world famous Brass Band of Battle Creek; as a chamber musician, he is a member of the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, a group with a 30 year history of performance in over 60 countries.  Check out his website for more info and hear his new album ‘Affinity” on Spotify and iTunes.

martynparkespianophotoSince becoming a professional piano accompanist in 1997, Martyn Parkes has been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s best instrumentalists and singers, giving recitals at many prestigious venues including the Bridgewater Hall, Wigmore Hall, St Martin in the Fields and St James’s Piccadilly, UK, as well as recitals in Iceland, Australia and New Zealand. He has performed and recorded as orchestral pianist with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra and Manchester Camerata.


Saturday 6 August 2016
10.30 am and 11.30 am

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Chris Blake pianochristopher_blake__mediumChrisBlake

Chris Blake oboe

Chris Blake (piano) won a foundation scholarship to study both horn and piano as first study at the Royal College of Music in 1975, and graduated with first class honours. As a horn player, he was national finalist in the Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Competition and worked with the LSO, the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra before becoming Principal Horn of the Ulster Orchestra in 1979. Chris studied piano at the RCM, and during his Ulster Orchestra career Chris accompanied many Ulster Orchestra players and formed the Orion Duo with viola/violin player Ruth Bebb. Chris recorded for Radio Ulster on a number of occasions, notably with his namesake Christopher Blake (oboe) and Elizabeth Bennett (flute). He featured in a live broadcast of both Mozart and Beethoven piano and wind quintets with the Belfast Wind Quintet. Last year Chris accompanied on Radio Three’s “In Tune” programme for St. Patrick’s Day, Sean Rafferty describing him as a “consummate musician.” Recently Chris has been accompanying singer Peter Corry.

Since leaving the Ulster Orchestra in 2010, Chris had been pursuing his passion of developing teaching, training and research to foster the provision of music opportunities for young people with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties.

Chris Blake (oboe) became Principal Oboe of the Ulster Orchestra in 1988, having previously worked for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. His concerto performances with the UO include the Richard Strauss Concerto with Vernon Handley, the Mozart and Strauss concertos conducted by Carlos Colmar, and the Vaughan Williams concerto conducted by James Macmillan. He has also performed the  Bach Double Concerto with ex-leaders Lesley Hatfield and David Adams and more recently with the Ulster Orchestra’s current leader, Tamas Kocsis. Christopher also loves playing chamber music and has played in various groups within the Orchestra including wind octets, quintets, and for the last two years has appeared with the Orion Duo and Praeger Oboe Quartet.

Saturday 7 May 2016
10.30 am and 11.30 am

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Aisling Agnew flute

Ryan Molloy piano

Aisling was born and raised in Belfast. She regularly performs worldwide and has been broadcast on BBC Radio, RTE Lyric FM and Classic FM. Aisling has given many high profile concerts including her Wigmore Hall début, Belfast Festival, and the National Flute Association’s 40th International Convention at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. In 2006 she released her acclaimed début album Recital and has gone on to record several CDs such as Histoire du Tango, Standing Stones and her latest CD Bidla which was released in July 2015. Aisling mostly enjoys solo and chamber music and she performs in a duo with guitarist Matthew McAllister, with the Irish Memory Orchestra and Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble.

Aisling recently had her first child Martha who is looking forward to coming along to the concerts!

As a composer and performer, Ryan’s work has been performed to international audiences on four continents for over ten years. He has recorded as accompanist on over a dozen albums and his repertoire spans numerous genres from traditional Irish music to contemporary classical music. Ryan’s compositional work has won several prizes and has been broadcast both nationally and internationally on BBC Radio 3, Radio Ulster, RTÉ Lyric FM, Radio 1 and Ráidió na Gaeltachta as well as on BBC 2, UTV and BBC World. Innisfail, a CD of Ryan’s solo piano works, was released in 2016 by award-winning American pianist Alexander Bernstein.

Sunday 6 March 2016
10.30 am and 11.30 am

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Anne Harper clarinet

Anne Harper grew up in Belfast and later attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow where she was awarded a Masters Degree in Performance with Distinction. A busy freelance career followed, which saw her performing regularly with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, and the Ulster Orchestra.  Anne has performed concertos and chamber music in many well known venues around the UK including Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, the Ulster Hall in Belfast, and St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. She is mother to three young children and a passionate advocate for the Arts.

Sunday 21 February 2016
10.30 am and 11.30 am

Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Laura Sinnerton viola

Rachel Grimes violin





crescent arts centre

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there changing facilities?
Yes, the Crescent Arts Centre has baby changing facilities in the ladies toilets, situated on the ground floor of the building near to the Cube.

Can I feed my baby during the concert?
Of course. There is a mixture of seating, from chairs to bean bags to play mats on the floor, so you can choose the most comfortable spot for you and your baby.

What if my baby cries or makes a noise during the concert?
That’s fine. Don’t feel embarrassed if your baby joins in with a few squeals. We only ask that adults don’t talk to each other during the performance, just as you wouldn’t during a ‘normal’ concert – you can save the chat for the cafe!

What is Chamber Music?
Chamber music is classical music written for small groups of instruments (usually fewer than 12). Typical examples are String Quartets, Duos such as violin & piano or voice & piano, and Trios (usually piano, violin and cello). We also include solo instruments such as piano, concert harp or guitar, and many other small combinations of instruments including wind (e.g. flute, clarinet) and brass instruments (e.g. trumpet).

Is my baby the right age for classical music?
We have designed these concerts for a mainly pre-walking audience. You are never to young to enjoy classical music, and we know babies can hear music in the womb. Most of the music is gentle, though there are livelier pieces too. If you would like to know what will be in the programme, drop us an email at

Is there somewhere to leave my buggy?
Buggies can be left safely in a separate room adjacent to the Cube.

How long is the concert?
The concert lasts 40 minutes. Our first two concerts have been designed with a 20 minute gap between them, so there is time to enjoy a coffee before or afterwards.

Where is the Crescent Arts Centre?
The Crescent Arts Centre is situated at 2-4 University Road, next to the Crescent Church, just before the junction with the Lisburn Road.

General enquiries: