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Tutor biographies

NYGE is an unrivaled opportunity for UK based young classical guitarists to train throughout the year with some of the most inspirational and internationally renowned tutors in the classical guitar world.

Read what they have to say about working with their talented students at monthly ensemble rehearsals. Then get to know each tutor a little better by reading about their career so far.

Gerald Garcia

Director, Camerata Orchestra

It is wonderful working with talented young people who are dedicated to making music together. There is a great sense of teamwork and fun, resulting in enthusiastic and uplifting performances.

I am proud to be associated with NYGE, to be their Camerata Orchestra Director and to have been involved in nurturing it from its beginnings to the professional youth ensemble it is today. I hope our performances will inspire more commissions from composers and will introduce audiences to the special beauty and vitality of the sound of young guitarists playing together.

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Gerald Garcia composes music for guitar and live productions and conducts diverse ensembles. He has also produced CD recordings of various artists including those of guitarists Johannes Moller and Kuang Junhong for Naxos.

His music has been played and recorded worldwide by David Russell, Craig Ogden, the Eden-Stell Duo, Xue Fei Yang, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and John Williams among others.

Gerald’s teaching experience has included educational workshops with Kent Opera, English National Opera and the Academy of St.Martin-in-the- Fields, and he has devised music workshops for educational authorities including Highlands and Islands and Oxfordshire.

He is a regular at summer schools in Britain, Germany and China as a conductor, performer and teacher and is a visiting professor at Sichuan Conservatory which he visits annually. He is in demand as an adjudicator and has sat on juries in Britain, Europe and China.

He has recorded more than 12 CDs which have sold over 40,000 copies world-wide.

In October 1995 he toured China in a duo with guitarist John Williams playing to audiences of tens of thousands. This historic visit was the beginning of an explosion of classical guitar activity in China, which Gerald now visits regularly as a teacher and conductor.

He began as the Musical Director of the NYGE Orchestra, who produced their first CD “Festive Fizz” in 2008. He has conducted the Ensemble in landmark performances including Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint and works dedicated to NYGE by Stephen Dodgson, Alfonso Montes, Mark Houghton and others.

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Helen Sanderson

Director, NYGE London Camerata & NYGE Fellowship Ensemble

Directing NYGE London Camerata is one of my passions. For me the guitar ensemble is truly orchestral and I think that is what excites me in every rehearsal. I am constantly searching for colours and timbres to evoke the essence of the music we play and I relish the opportunity to work with these young guitarists to open up a new sound world for them. I am hugely ambitious for what we achieve in London Camerata and I like to get deep into the details of articulation, tone and expression. We work hard and rehearsals can be intense, but the results are so inspiring for us all.

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Helen trained at the Royal College of Music graduating with prizes including the Anthony Saltmarsh Prize and the Madeline Walton Prize for Guitar. She has performed at many of the UK’s prestigious concert venues including the Southbank Centre, King’s Place, St. Georges-Bristol and in 2010 she made her US debuts in Los Angeles and New York, subsequently touring extensively in USA, Sweden, Germany and France.

Helen is Senior Guitar Tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Musical Director of the NYGE London Camerata, founder and Artistic Director of the World Youth Guitar Festival and CEO of Guitar Circus. She recently appeared as the classical industry expert for the Sky Arts series, “Guitar Star” and is a sought-after masterclass artist, adjudicator and international jury member, for competitions such as BBC Young Musician of the Year. Her compositions and arrangements have been featured in the Grade examination syllabi for both the ABRSM and Trinity College and in 2017 Helen became a Winston Churchill Fellow for her work in guitar education.

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Mark Ashford

Director, NYGE Birmingham Camerata & NYGE Orchestra

I have been a tutor at NYGE since its conception. It’s a real pleasure each month to work with talented children from all over the Midlands that share a passion for the guitar. It can be a lonely existence as a guitarist in your local area, so to see them bond and make great music together gives me and hopefully them a great buzz.

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Mark is an Internationally renowned performer and teacher. Originally from the Midlands Mark went on to study with Gordon Crosskey at Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester. From there he studied with Michael Lewin at the Royal Academy of Music and then privately with David Russell in Spain. Early on in his performing career Mark became a laureate of several major national and international competitions including BBC Radio Two’s Young Musician, Julian Bream Prize, South East Arts Music Platform Award, Guitar Foundation of America, Scandinavian International Guitar Competition, and the Alessandria International Guitar Competition, Italy.

He has performed at many of the UK’s most prestigious music venues and has toured extensively throughout Europe and the US. Most recently along with the Vida Guitar Quartet he was delighted to make his debut in China. As a concerto soloist Mark has performed with many leading Orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, London Concertante and the Turin Symphony Orchestra.

Mark has recorded ten CD’s including a recording of Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Cleobury which led to a most successful tour around the UK. His latest CD is with the Vida Guitar Quartet entitled ‘Bachianas’, featuring saxophonist Amy Green and new works by Howard Skempton and Laura Snowden.

He was course director at the International Guitar Festival-Bath for six years and regularly gives masterclasses at International Festivals and leading Conservatoires of Music. He is currently head of guitar at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Music and in 2003 was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for his achievements in the profession.

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Mike McGeary

Director, NYGE Scotland Camerata

Playing in ensemble is an integral element in all my teaching starting from the first lesson as I believe it is an essential part of a musician’s development. This can range from small trios and quartets to the Edinburgh School’s Guitar Ensemble (32 players) and even the Edinburgh School’s Guitar Orchestra (120 players). It is a privilege to become the first musical director and conductor of NYGE Camerata, Scotland and to be a part of the NYGE UK family.

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After initially learning to play Ukrainian mandolin at the age of 8, Mike progressed to playing guitar aged 11 and in 1978 became the first guitarist to become accepted as a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).
He has given recitals throughout the UK and has broadcast on BBC and commercial radio as a soloist and as a member of the Edinburgh Guitar Quartet which he co-founded in 2002. Having taught in Edinburgh and Lothian schools since 1982, he was appointed Head of the Edinburgh School’s Music Service in 2004. In 2012, he returned to full-time music teaching, writing and performing, and is also a classical guitar lecturer in the Junior Department of the RCS.

In 1999 Mike was named Yamaha Instrumental Teacher of the Year. His students have progressed to study at prestigious institutions such as the Royal College of Music (London), the Royal Academy of Music (London), Trinity College (London), The Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester), as well as the Yehudi Menuhin School (London), the RCS and several leading UK universities.


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Manus Noble

Director, NYGE Cymru

I am hugely proud to be the musical director of NYGE in Wales. I feel it is an invaluable experience for young players to be able to meet and learn from their peers, and it presents them with an opportunity to develop key ensemble playing skills in a large group (something that is often particularly lacking in young guitarists’ education). I enjoying trying to coax as much out of my players as possible, getting them engaged and thinking creatively, as well as bringing them out of their comfort zones as soloists and learning to work together as a whole. 

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Irish guitarist Manus Noble was born in London in 1988 and began studying the guitar at the age of seven. At 16 he was taught privately by Craig Ogden for two years before continuing his studies with Gary Ryan at the Royal College of Music in 2006. In 2010 he graduated with first class honours and was awarded a scholarship to do his Masters in Performance at the Royal Academy of Music. Manus Noble gave his debut performance at the Cadogan Hall, London at the age of 19. He was also given Performance Awards by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, Countess of Munster and Ian Flemming Trust, and was accepted onto the Park Lane Group Young Artist’s Concert Series at the Purcell Room, London Southbank Centre. He won first prize in the Ivor Mairants Guitar Competition in 2011.

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Music with Distinction, Noble has launched his career in the UK with great success, giving recitals and masterclasses at festivals such as West Dean, Cheltenham Guitar Festival, Bath International Guitar Festival, Beechwood Guitar Course and London International Guitar Festival. He has been accepted onto the Countess of Munster for two years running, as well as the Making Music recital scheme in 2014, and is now in high demand as a performer. Recent performances include solo recitals at Kings Place (London), Sage Gateshead (Newcastle) and Bridgewater Hall (Manchester). He was also awarded first prize for the Guitar Competition at the Royal College of Music before going on to the String Player of the Year Competition.

Noble is now the Musical Director of the National Youth Guitar Ensemble in Wales, and teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. As well as writing new works for the instrument himself, Noble has developed a certain flair and passion for modern techniques and repertoire, with many composers choosing to write new works for him, including ‘Hot Club Francais’ by Gary Ryan. Manus Noble uses Concerto Carbon Cases, and his guitars are made by the English luthier, Stephen Hill.

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Matthew Robinson

Director,  NYGE London

I am immensely proud to be the director of NYGE London and it has been such a fun and rewarding highlight of my work as a music educator/conductor since its inception in 2010. It occupies one of the most important roles in developing young musicians. Members are between Y7-Y13 and standards of Gr6-Gr8+, it is often through this period that young players can often be inspired to pursue music as a career.

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It is a real privilege to work with students at this point in their musical lives and to expose them to a professional approach to rehearsing and performing. They experience a wide range of repertoire that they would not be able to attempt as guitarists without an ensembles as special and unique as those of NYGE.

Matthew graduated with his Masters in Performance with distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) in 2011. He was accepted as a fellow in 2015-16 to work on projects including a new chamber music series in Chelsea, London. His undergratuate degree is from Birmingham conservatoire, where he was awarded the Guitar Prize in 2006.

With the Mēla guitar quartet Matthew has recorded the Guitar Chamber Works of Stephen Dodgson for Naxos, released in 2017, and has recorded the complete quartets of Anthony Burgess. www.melagq.com. He performs regularly with virtuoso flamenco/jazz guitarist Eduardo Niebla in Duo and Trio (with Tabla or Violin) and frequently tours large concert halls and theatres throughout the UK and Europe.

Matthew also works as a soloist having been the Courtauld Institute’s musician in residence and performing the Rodney-Bennett Guitar Concerto at the Purcell Room, London, conducted by Ben Gernon. He is now head of classical guitar at the GSMD junior department and his students have been accepted to the Royal College of Music and GSMD.

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Adam Hickman

Director,  NYGE Birmingham

Leading and directing the NYGE Birmingham ensemble is always something I look forward to every month. Working with some of the most talented young guitarists in the region is a real privilege. I feel a great deal of satisfaction when a piece comes together and you can see that the students themselves are proud to be a part of such an inspiring programme. 

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As a student myself I can remember relishing every opportunity to play with other talented players. The guitar having the reputation as a predominantly solo instrument meant that opportunities to perform as an orchestra were rare, making NYGE a truly special opportunity for young classical guitarists across the UK.

Adam graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (formerly Birmingham Conservatoire) in 2008 with a BMus (Hons) degree. At the conservatoire he studied classical guitar with Mark Ashford and Mark Eden, and second study piano with Caroline Costello. As well as his studies at the conservatoire, Adam has also performed in a number of masterclasses with some of the world’s leading guitarists and teachers including Pepe Romero, Roland Dyens, David Tanenbaum, Hubert Kappel, William Kanengiser, Andrew York, Robert Brightmore, Judicael Perroy, Jeremy Jouve and Graham Devine.

Upon graduation, Adam completed a PGCE in Primary Education at Birmingham City University and has since worked as an instrumental music teacher at Services for Education – Music Service. At the Music Service he is currently the Lead for School Engagement and Partnerships. Adam is also a Visiting Lecturer in Music Education at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham City University.

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