Southern Youth Ballet Orchestra is made up of professional players which has helped the Company to improve their performances with a live orchestra over the years. Leader Lisa Wigmore also leads the Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the adjudication panel for the ESO’s Young Soloist Competition.
Lisa is a well-known violin teacher in Sussex, and many of her pupils have been successfully in gaining entry to the National Childrens Orchestra and some of the major music colleges.
Conductor Kenneth Roberts was born in Hastings and educated at Hastings Grammar School and York University where, as well as a first class degree, he undertook postgraduate research into the music of Francis Poulenc, studying with Wilfred Mellers and David Balke. He studied conducting with George Hurst, Adrian Leaper and Graham Treacher.
After a spell in teaching, in 1988 he embarked on a freelance career. Since then he has worked as Musical Director, Conductor and Pianist for numerous organisations including First Act Opera, Sussex Concert Orchestra, Brandenburg Sinfonia, London City Opera, Opera South East, Cameo Opera, Oyster Opera, Medway Opera and Southern Youth Ballet. He has conducted at many prestigious venues including The Royal Albert Hall, The Britten Theatre, Kensington Palace, St. James’ Palace and York Minster.
As Solo Pianist and Accompanist he has appeared at The Festival Hall, for the former Prime Minister (including a special performance of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’) at Government House, Hong Kong, Beijing (featured in BBC2’s ‘Newsnight’), St. Petersburg, Geneva and Monte Carlo. He has also played his own ‘Mikado Rag’ live on ‘Classic fM’ and has appeared all round the country with his series of Lecture Recitals covering music from Mozart to ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton.
He more recently worked extensively in New Hampshire, US, both for KAT (children’s theatre company) and at Plymouth State University where, for ten years, he was Musical Director for their Educational Theatre Co-operative. In 2002, he wrote the music for an award-winning international children’s piece produced in New England and his African musical ‘Ananse the Spiderman’ was revived there in 2005. In the same year he completed a commission to write a ballet based on the novel ‘The Trumpet Major’ by Thomas Hardy. In 2010 he also contributed music for the recently published musical version of ‘Pollyanna’.
His highly acclaimed reduced orchestral arrangement of operatic score by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini and others are currently being played all over the world and are available from www.smallcores.com. Recently Kenneth has joined the panel of the British & International Federation of Festivals adjudicators and he lectures part-time for the Works Educational Association.