As a five-year-old she began learning piano and, since the age of six, she has played the cello in the class of Daniela Cherpokova-Nikolaeva at the Lybomir Pipkov National School of Music in Sofia (Bulgaria). Since September 2013, she is a student of prof. Stefan Popov in Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Penka has been a scholarship student of bothRaina Kabaivanska Foundation for gifted children, Communitas Foundation for exceptional achievements and skills and Yordan Kamdzhalov Music Trust.
She is a First Prize winner at the international competitions “Young Virtuosos” (2005 - 2010) in Sofia and “M.A.G.I.C.” (2007 and 2011) in Bourgas.In January 2012 together with her piano trio “Appassionato” won at the European Radio Competition “Concertino Praga – 2012”: the First Prize in a category “Trio” (chamber music), the special prize of the Czech Radio – “Helena Karaskova” and the prize of EMCY. In June the overall winners took part in the concert of Laureates in the “Dvorak” Hall (Rudolfinum) and at the concerts of Prize winners of South Bohemian Festival “Concertino Praga”. In July the trio recorded their programme in the Czech Radio which published their profile CD in November (2012). The trio performed solo recitals in Luxembourg and Germany at the invitation of EMCY (The European Union of Music Competitions for Youth) in March 2013. In April 2012 Penka won the Second Prize at the international competition for cellists “Karl Davidov” in Kuldiga, Latvia. In November 2013 she received the Third prize at the III M. Elsky International Contest of String Bow instruments performers in Minsk (Belarus). She refines her skills in the master classes of JérômePernoo, Prof. Vladimir Perlin, Mats Lidstrom, Dominique de Williencourt, Gavriel Lipkind , Seeli Toivio, Martin Zeller, “Talich” String Quartet, Prof. Grigory Feyghin, Elena Ashkenazy, Prof. Kevork Mardirossian, Alexander Zemcov,etc. In the period 2010-2012 she has also appeared at the International Chamber Music and Orchestra Course “Musica Mundi” (Belgium) and in the 10th International Summer course for chamber music “Hindemith” in Blonay (Switzerland).
Penka Petkova has performed as soloist of “Classic FM” Radio Orchestra, New Symphony Orchestra, the philharmonic orchestras of Plovdiv, Pleven and Vratsa (Bulgaria); “Liepaja” Latvian philharmonic orchestra and the Belarusian State Philharmonic.
In 2011 and 2012 she was awarded a Diploma for artistic achievement by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Penka has solo and chamber music recordings made for the Czech radio, Bulgarian National TV, Bulgarian National Radio and other broadcasting.
Penka has been teaching students of all ages, including very young children for over 5 years achieving very good results with her pupils.
Marianne was inspired to begin learning the cello after hearing a performance of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto.She has recently finished her Masters degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music studying with Joely Koos, kindly supported by a Leverhulme Trust Scholarship, a TCL Scholarship, a Music Students Hostel Trust Scholarship and a bursary from the TL Postgraduate Fund.
Previously, she studied at the Royal Northern College of Music where she developed a keen interest in chamber music, performing folk and contemporary music with her cello and harp duo in many venues across Manchester, including the RNCM Concert Hall and the Whitworth Art Gallery. She has also played in various string quartets and trios, and took part in the Pro Corda National String Ensemble School at the age of 17. Marianne travelled to the Czech Republic in 2008 to take part in the Litomysl Music Festival, studying for two weeks with Evan Ratay and performing alongside members of the Wihan Quartet. She is a member of the Hormadne Piano Trio, with whom she recently had a concert tour of Portugal, performing Schubert’s Trio in E flat in the cities of Porto and Alveiro.
Marianne has taken part in masterclasses with many distinguished artists including Ralph Kirshbaum, Raphael Wallfisch, Natalie Clein, Matthew Barley, Hannah Roberts and Emma Ferrand, and has had chamber music coaching with members of the Endellion, Wihan and Alban Berg string quartets.
She began teaching piano at the age of 16, and shortly after started taking on cello students. Her experiences over the years working with top professors in both cello and piano have inspired her to establish her own teaching base in London, and she currently has many students ranging from the age of just four to the age of sixty eight, and varying abilities from complete beginner to grade eight. She likes to make her lessons interesting and fun, and ensure that over time her students enjoy playing and performing as much as she does.
Christopher Brown is in the final year of his undergraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He currently studies with Tim Lowe, and his previous teachers include Catherine Ardagh-Walter and Jane Salmon. He has performed recitals at Guildhall and Birmingham Conservatoire, as well as at Birmingham Cathedral, St. Martin’s in the Bullring, and other locations across London and the midlands. Recently he performed at the Polish Cultural Institute with the Zarebski Piano Quintet, and at Thornbury Arts Festival. He was recently selected to perform in a public masterclass at GSMD with Gregor Horsch, and has previously had masterclasses with the Schubert Ensemble, cellist Sagi Hartov, violinist Peter Cropper, and members of the Carducci and Enescu Quartets. He has also received first class tuition at the Lake District International Summer Music Festival Academy and the Cello Gathering International Course in Dorset. He has played with GSMD Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, with the CBSO Youth Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. He teaches cello at Hanover Primary School, Islington, in addition to teaching privately. In his teaching he seeks to draw on the experiences of eminent musicians he has been privileged to learn from during his studies in a way that is accessible to learners of all ages and abilities.