Our Leaders

Cristinel Băcanu
 was born in Bucharest, Romania and began playing the violin at the George Enescu School of Music where he gained his diploma.  He then continued his studies at the National University of Music in Bucharest and Ohio University, studying with Dr Corina Bura and Marjorie Bagley.  In 2007 he gained a full scholarship to Arizona State University to undertake a Masters in Performance with Dr Katherine McLin.

During his studies, Cristinel won several concerto competitions, and has performed many of the great violin concertos including those by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius.  He was leader of several orchestras at the Bucharest Conservatoire and Arizona State University. 

Cristinel has participated in masterclasses with the Tokyo String Quartet, the Brentano String Quartet, the Juilliard String Quartet, and in 2000 was selected to represent Romania as both a soloist and chamber musician at the Hanover Expo.

Cristinel is currently based in Birmingham, and is developing a portfolio career as a freelance violinist and music educator.  He is a regular guest leader of the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and is often invited to lead other ensembles in the region.

Shulah Oliver

Shulah Oliver completed her Masters Degree in Performance with Distinction at the world renowned Royal Academy of Music in London in 2006 and was awarded the much coveted Diploma of the Royal Academy of Music for her outstanding Final Recital. Her studies at RAM were assisted by awards from the Elmley and EMI Music Sound Foundations, Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and Winifred Disney. Shulah graduated from the Royal College of Music with a First Class Honours Joint Principal (violin/viola) degree in 2004.

Shulah has been a finalist & been commended in competitions including the 19th & 23rd Haverhill Sinfonia Soloist Competition, the Delius Prize, Wilfred Parry Prize, Winifred Small Prize & Sir Arthur Bliss Prize, & received the RAM John Mundy & D-Day Fund Prize Awards.

Apart from being a well-respected soloist, Shulah is also the lead violinist in the Astaria String Quartet and Fordante, string player of Duo Armande and was violinist of the Lichnowsky Piano Trio who were prize winners at the 2003 European Music Competition for Youth. As a soloist and ensemble member she has played in venues nationwide and been invited to play in festivals such as the Paganini London Festival, Norfolk and Norwich Festival, 3 Choirs Festival, Worcester Festival, Peter-Maxwell Davis Festival, Rutland Boughton Festival, Roseland Festival and St. Endellion Festival.

Shulah was a member of the prestigious European Union Youth Orchestra and National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. She now freelances with orchestras such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, English Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Swan and the Emerald Ensemble and is invited to guest lead several orchestras.

In the Summers of 2008, 2009 and 2011 Shulah was the only violinist selected from the UK to take part and perform at the prestigious London Masterclasses with Gyorgy Pauk. She has participated in many masterclasses with violinists and violists including Tasmin Little, When Zhou Lee, Thomas Brandis, Bruno Giuranna, Siegmund Nissel and Yuri Bashmit.

Shulah is also proud to be one of the founders and part of the Artistic Directoral team of Chamber Music @ Worcester – an annual Festival promoting Music in the Community concerts, education workshops and chamber music recitals of the highest quality in Worcester and the surrounding areas. It aims to create a vibrant, accessible and enjoyable environment, where people of all ages can interact with classical chamber music concerts and events. The Chamber Music @ Worcester Festival delivers opportunities where musicians and composers can collaborate with members of the community to produce a music festival for the whole family.


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