Liverpool-born conductor Matthew Hardy graduated in 2018 from the masters course in orchestral conducting at the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Peter Stark and Howard Williams. He attended Dartington International Summer School in 2017 as a scholar studying with Sian Edwards and was invited to the Cardiff Conducting Days masterclass in 2018 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales led by Martyn Brabbins.

At the RCM he assisted conductors Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Martyn Brabbins, and Jac van Steen. He conducted the RCM Orchestra in several performances, and directed many smaller groups as part of the college’s programme of events.

He is the founder and artistic director of East London Music Group with whom he has given performances among other things of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and Walton’s Façade. With ELMG he also commissioned and premiered Strange Joy by Edward Nesbit and 1936: An East London Uprising by Robin Haigh, two works for narrators and ensemble. East London Music Group has also delivered several large scale primary school educational projects.

In addition, Matthew has a busy schedule as Musical Director of East London Community Band, St Albans Rehearsal Orchestra, and Bowes Park Community Choir. In September 2019 he took up Musical Director positions with CoMA (Contemporary Music for All) London Ensemble and Southampton University Symphony Orchestra.

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Although Sue first sang in the Church choir at seven, she only started to learn the violin when going to secondary school, as they had run out of flutes – her first choice at that time!

She was subsequently offered a place at the Menuhin School but was unable to take it up because of her Mother’s health problems. Sue was very fortunate in having Noel Cox as a wonderful, encouraging mentor; he instigated her first professional fee of six guineas as a teenage violinist with The Nottingham Harmonic Orchestra! Sue also played in the pit orchestras for many music and operatic societies in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. She later continued her violin and singing studies as a mature student in Nottingham, becoming a peripatetic teacher, leaving the world of commerce where she had been a registered insurance broker.

Her musical activities in the Norfolk music scene included private and school work, teaching violin and singing with a range of pupils from young beginners to returning ‘rusty’ adults (rather like Sue feels she is now!), running three choirs and two orchestras. She also founded Squeaky’s Music Club for youngsters aged 4-10 and, as a member of the music committee for the annual Cromer & North Norfolk Music Festival, chose all the set pieces for the Vocal Section. Her successes in coaching performers enabled pupils to become a Choirboy of the Year finalist, a Cambridge Music scholar and take leading roles in various musicals; most of all, however, Sue wanted to encourage and instill a love and appreciation of music and of people’s confidence in their ability to perform.

Sue and her pupils had regularly given charity fundraising concerts, so when circumstances meant that she had to find a ‘proper job’, she was able to combine her love of music with organising events to help others including, when working with Marie Curie Cancer Care, producing a very successful Gala Concert with Mark Elder as guest conductor of the Norfolk Youth Orchestra and, at The Institute of Cancer Research, the Philharmonia Orchestra gave a high profile fundraising concert at The South Bank under Ashkenazy. As Foundation Director at the Purcell School Sue enjoyed working with Sir Simon Rattle to achieve a memorable opening of the school’s new music centre and was delighted to persuade John Rutter to become a patron of the school.

Working full time in London as fundraising director for various charities meant that personal music had to take a back seat, but Sue was able to continue singing with several chamber choirs and playing with The London Charities’ Orchestra. A prompt from a former lecturer at college on ‘how good you were’ encouraged her to dust off the cobwebs from her violin!

They continue to be dusted, but Sue is delighted to be able to give more time to her music again. As well as leading SARO she ‘deps’ for local orchestras, sings with several choirs and founded and directs a flourishing local community choir. Sue is married to Philip and they have four daughters (and four sons-in law), and eleven grandchildren, who enjoy playing ‘concerts’ in Granny’s band when they all come to visit. Charlie, aged four, has noticed that Granny does not have a trumpet, so has suggested that she has one as a present. Look out the brass section!