Lesley Hatfield, Violin

“I was privileged to play with the COE between1986 and 1991.

The orchestra is unique in bringing together musicians of the highest level who share similar musical ideals and ethos. The result is a true flexibility of performance and sound built on trust and understanding across the ensemble. Of course, at the time I was a member, as a young musician, I completely took it for granted and assumed the whole professional world was like this!
Memories – so many – the amazing inspiration of working with Harnoncourt, on Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven; Mendelssohn and Rossini with Abbado (and that stunning wind playing); Touring Italy with Rostropovich, his little dog in a carrier bag on the plane (wouldn’t get away with this now..); Visiting and playing in so many amazing places.

Leaving this environment was very difficult – ultimately the need to lead a less peripatetic life won over – I had just had enough of hotels and constant travelling. I needed a more centered life with my own house and garden to retreat to! And a sense of belonging and contributing to a particular community. But there is no doubt that the musical experiences I had during my time with COE formed me as a musician with a foundation and ideals that have sustained me throughout my life, along with the wonderful friendships which continued after I left and have endured until now, particularly through the Gaudier Ensemble.”


Lesley Hatfield leads a varied musical life, combining her role as Leader of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with chamber music, solo playing and teaching. Her wide ranging musical interests find her performing music from all eras and she has worked closely with many contemporary composers.

During her early career, as a chamber musician and member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, she worked with Sandor Vegh and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, both of whom had a lasting impact on her musical approach. She was co-Leader of the Northern Sinfonia and Leader of the Ulster Orchestra before taking up her current position in 2004. Chamber music has always been an important part of Lesley’s musical life. She is a member of the highly acclaimed Gaudier Ensemble and is regularly invited to participate as a guest in a wide range of ensembles and chamber music festivals. She has been a regular invited performer at the International Musicians Seminar Open Chamber Music at Prussia Cove since 1986, and is now also closely involved with outreach initiatives run by IMS in the wider community in Cornwall. She has appeared as guest Leader, soloist and director with many orchestras around the UK and in Europe, has recorded for Chandos and Naxos labels, and is regularly heard on BBC radio 3.

Lesley is much in demand as a teacher, and she is actively involved as Patron of ‘Making Music, Changing Lives’, a Cardiff-based charity which seeks to transform the lives of children and the
communities from which they come, through music and providing the opportunity to learn musical instruments. Recently she was appointed Trustee of the Albert and Eugenie Frost Trust, helping
young string players at all levels.

Lesley is a Fellow of both the Royal Academy of Music and of the Royal Welsh College of Music
and Drama.

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