The Music Room

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Catherine Arlidge, MBE, Artistic and Educational Director of the National Children’s Orchestras of GB talks to Zoë Beyers in the seventh conversation of The Music Room series

Catherine Arlidge, MBE

“Catherine Arlidge is not only one of our most inspiring, valued and unstinting musicians but also one of our strongest and most idealistic personalities.” – Sir Simon Rattle.

Catherine is a ‘portfolio’ musician, performing many roles including Artistic and Educational Director of the National Children’s Orchestras of GB, CBSO Violinist, Concert Presenter and founder member of The Stringcredibles.

In January 2014 Catherine became the first violinist – and only the third ever recipient – of the Royal Philharmonic Society and The Association of British Orchestras’ Salomon Prize, a prestigious award celebrating the outstanding contribution of orchestral players to the UK’s musical life. ‘A true advocate of the modern orchestral musician’, she was awarded the prize for devising numerous projects which connect young people with classical music, for ‘her great skill for motivating and inspiring colleagues, and for engaging with her audience.’

Catherine began playing the violin at the age of 5. At 13 she started to study with Sidney Griller, Professor of Violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She went on to gain a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Manchester. In 1987 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and an Eastman Fellowship to study at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. She completed a Masters degree there studying with Zvi Zeitlin. On her return to England she concluded her studies with Felix Andrievsky at the Royal College of Music.

In 1990 Sir Simon Rattle appointed Catherine Sub-Principal Second Violin of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Since then she has dedicated her professional life to performing, touring and recording with the CBSO, along side a busy programme of educational activities off the concert platform.

Catherine presented the very first CBSO dedicated Family Concert in 1996, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Since then she has been a regular presenter of concerts for schools and families with orchestras across the UK. In 2006 she created Notelets – a highly popular series of interactive performances for pre school children. She also works in schools, exploring creative music making and composition, through collaborations with teachers, actors, composers, visual artists, authors and dancers.

Her string quartet, The Stringcredibles, formed in 2014, is an Arts Council supported quartet of CBSO musicians dedicated to exploring and developing the relationship between classical performers and their audiences.

In July 2017 Catherine was appointed Artistic and Educational Director of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain. Her responsibilities include programming, commissioning, building partnerships, establishing the curriculum and supporting the 120+ music tutors and conductors who work with the 11 orchestras that make up NCOGB.

Catherine has an interest in governance and is currently a member of the board of the Association of British Orchestras. She has published articles in Classical Music Magazine, Symphony Magazine (US) and Arts Professional and has presented at conferences both nationally and internationally. She has delivered workshops and consultancy for many musical organisations including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the Benedetti Foundation, Arts Council England funded Change Creation programme and ABO Find Your Way leadership programme.

In January 2016 Catherine was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s honour list, for services to music education. | |

The conversation – to be broadcast on YouTube or on Vimeo from 19:30 to 20:30 (BST) on Friday, 27th September – will be followed immediately by a Zoom Q&A session hosted by Catherine Arlidge. If you would like to take part, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the meeting invitation.

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