A terrific music week in Tenerife

Posted by Lowri Blake on 23rd February 2018


What a privilege to be a part of a great team of musicians at the International Chamber Music Festival and Academy of Music in Tenerife last week. Huge thanks to the director, violinist Judith Choi Castro for a superb series of concerts and for her brilliant and unflappable organisation of this very happy and successful festival and competition.


We’ll be seeing Judith again later this year when she returns as one of our immensely popular chamber music tutors for the Week 1 course at Cellos at Belle Serre.



More photos here

of the festival and of my sight-seeing day exploring this beautiful island.


There are a couple of places still available for Week 2 (21-28 July) at Belle Serre. The course is open to cellists of approximately ABRSM Grade 8 standard and above, with experience of ensemble playing. Amateurs, students, teachers and performers are all welcome. Cellists this year are coming from Switzerland, Spain, Holland, France, the UK and the USA. Please contact me via this site for more information about the course. 


A bientôt!

Garden quartet

The two summer courses at Belle Serre are almost fully booked but there are still a couple of places left for a wonderful week of intensive, hard-working study in a non-competitive and supportive atmosphere. Come on down to South West France for a cello holiday of a lifetime!

The two courses are for intermediate level players and for more experienced cellists: for amateurs, students, teachers and performers – if you’re not sure which course to apply for, do contact me to discuss which week would suit you best.

It’s a truly action-packed week: our daily schedule includes technique sessions, cello ensembles, trio chamber music with two superb professionals, a cello clinic, master classes, individual and group teaching, and of course some time to practise and time to chill out by the pool or simply saunter round the village or the woods. We’ve also got a baroque afternoon scheduled with our hugely popular visiting experts, Lucy Robinson and Andrew Wilson-Dickson, and in Week 2, we also welcome for the first time Ross Harbaugh from the Frost School of Music in Miami as guest cello tutor, working on how to practise and how to perform.

If you’re looking for maximum cello time and tuition expertise, this is the place to be!


Pool at night



Happy New Year from all of us at Cellos at Belle Serre. We wish you a very happy and successful year ahead, full of joyful music-making.

We’re gearing up here for the July 2018 courses and if you’re planning on joining us for one of the summer weeks, please contact me or complete the online booking form as soon as possible – there are just a few places left!

We have a great team of tutors and a jam-packed week of activities for our Week 1 course (11-18 July). This week is for intermediate players with some experience of playing in ensembles and as a guideline, the level for players on this course is from about Grade 7-8 ABRSM standard and above, up to diploma level.

Whatever your level, there are cello ensemble parts to suit the less experienced as well as the highly experienced, and the beauty of playing trio chamber music with two superb professionals (piano and violin) is that you can really enjoy high quality chamber music at any level of experience!

Join me and my team, cellists Willemijn Knödler and Susan Urbita, pianist Camille Galinier and violinist Judith Choi Castro for a week of intensive study in a relaxed setting. We’ll also have our ever-popular Baroque Day when Lucy Robinson and Andrew Wilson-Dickson join us with Lucy’s consort of viols and Andrew guiding us in the art of playing baroque cello sonatas and continuo.

My Week 2 (21-28 July) tutors are pianist and harpsichordist Andrew Wilson-Dickson, clarinettist Mark Lacey, cellist Florian Belbeoch, another wonderful team to coach us through a great selection of cello ensembles and a fabulous range of trio chamber music repertoire, in addition to the daily master classes and technical workouts.


I am also delighted to welcome our visiting guest cello professor, Ross Harbaugh who teaches at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in the USA, who is going to be giving a couple of technique and performance classes during our Week 2 course.

The Week 2 course is for cellists who are post Grade 8 ABRSM level and are generally more experienced in ensemble playing. We welcome amateurs, students and professional performers and teachers – again, there is quite a range of experience amongst the players, with ensemble parts to suit each individual cellist; if you’re not sure which course would suit your ability best, do get in touch with me.

Come on down to Castres for a week of cello cool and summer sun!

A bientôt!






Belle Serre

Come on down to sunny Castres in SW France and enjoy one of our fabulous cello courses at Belle Serre next summer. Bookings will open on this site in mid-November. Watch this space!

The dates are:

Summer Week 1: Wednesday 11 – Wednesday 18 July 2018
             (Week 1 is for intermediate level up to advanced level cellists)
Summer Week 2: Saturday 21 – Saturday 28 July 2018
             (Week 2 is for advanced cellists)
Arrivals from 18.00 on the first day, departures by 10.00 on the last day
Week 1 is for all players from intermediate (approx. Grade 8) to advanced level (diploma up to professional level) who are are experienced in ensemble playing and sight-reading.
Week 2 is for advanced cellists (diploma level up to professional level) who are experienced ensemble players able to tackle the more challenging ensemble repertoire.
Amateurs, students and professional cellists are all welcome.
A varied daily schedule will include individual tuition, duo repertoire with superb resident pianists Camille Galinier and Andrew Wilson-Dickson, group technical workouts and cello ensemble playing with outstanding cello tutors Florian Belbeoch, Susan Urbita and Willemijn Knödler, trio chamber music sessions with guest professional musicians, violinist Judith Choi Castro (Week 1) and clarinettist Mark Lacey (Week 2), baroque continuo and sonata days, the ever-popular Cello Clinics and discussions about all aspects of cello playing. The aim is to study hard in a house party setting, with time to relax too, basking in the sunshine around the pool or taking long shady walks in the surrounding countryside.
Full details of each week and booking forms will be posted on the Cellos at Belle Serre site in mid-November.


Photo of Lowri Blake
I have been invited by the Artistic Director, Judith Choi Castro to participate in the International Chamber Music Festival and Academy of Music, Tenerife in February 2018. I will be attending the Augustìn Ponte International Music Competition as a member of the competition jury from 10-13 February, and from February 14-18 I will be giving cello and chamber music tuition and also offering coaching for cellists wishing to play in sessions for cello ensemble.
The festival promises to be a fine opportunity to immerse yourself in listening to, studying and playing music. Whether you are a player or you simply want to come and enjoy the feast of music-making on offer as an observer, it all takes place right on your doorstep in the lovely surroundings of the Aguamarina Golf Hotel. It’s a chance to soak up some winter sun too in a wonderful atmosphere surrounded by musicians and music-making. Everyone is welcome!
The competition is open to pianists and string players up to 32 years old. Last year’s special prize was awarded to cellist Timothée Botbol, who assisted me with teaching at Cellos at Belle Serre in 2016.
There are master classes for a range of instruments taking place throughout the festival. My classes are open to cellists of all levels of experience; whatever your ability, come and enjoy a few days of lessons, coaching and concert-going. If you’re interested in cello ensemble playing, please do contact me via e mail and I will aim to coordinate duos, trios and quartets sessions for you.
In the evenings there are chamber music recitals given by colleagues of violinist and artistic director Judith Choi Castro, (also a regular and highly popular chamber music tutor at Cellos at Belle Serre). There are also informal daytime concerts given by the students taking part in the various master classes.
I would be delighted if you were interested in joining me for what promises to be an excellent festival of music-making, study and superb concerts.
You can choose to stay just for a few days or for the whole festival, it’s up to you. Please book your music holiday directly with the festival via their website at
I hope to see you there!

“Yet another incredible week at Belle Serre!”

Just one of the great feedback messages we have had from this summer’s cellists here at Belle Serre. Our 2017 guests came from as far afield as Spain, Canada, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and the UK. Here are some more of their comments: 

” I enjoyed the friendship new and old, the music playing as well as the opportunities to advance my skills as an adult cello student.  I have learned so much in the past week. You teach with kindness and expertise and always find something positive to build upon. It was for me, a great experience. I also loved playing trios with Mark and Camille. They made it so easy for me to participate in a wonderful musical journey. I look forward to returning to Belle Serre soon.”

“A very enjoyable week in great company. Lovely music and setting as always.”

“I was enchanted by everything; the quality of your teaching and of the other musicians working with you, everyone’s kindness, the amazing organisation, the food, the accommodation, the setting, the participants etc….I’ve come home full of motivation to improve my cello playing!”

“Thank you for making this such an unforgettable week.  I appreciated not only your warm welcome and kindness, but also your incredible expertise. You are an inspiration.”

“We were all so lucky to have coaching from you, Camille, Mark and Sue – without exception you were all so kind, encouraging, helpful and instructive and I could not have enjoyed these sessions more.”

“It must involve you in an immense amount of work to put on this course but it was all brilliantly done and everything worked like clockwork. What a team – all of you made this a magical week.”

“Thank you Lowri and co for this marvellous week of music. I had a very very enjoyable week!!”

“Once again it was a marvellous week at Belle Serre. Music, company, food and, last but not least, inspiration; and everything impeccably organized. A huge thankyou to you and your team for all that you do.”

“Thanks so much for a fabulous week at Belle Serre – I felt that I really learned a lot and had such enjoyment playing with everyone.”

“I made huge progress on this course and I feel very motivated to play. My sound has improved a lot and I focus particularly on my posture before playing – and it works!”
Chers amis,
Violoncelles à Belle Serre
Mardi 11 juillet 18.00
avec Mark Lacey, clarinette, Camille Galinier, piano
et Susan Urbita, violoncelle
Samedi 22 juillet 18.00
avec Judith Choi Castro, violon, Andrew Wilson-Dickson, piano 
et Florian Belbeoch, violoncelle
A l’auditorium du Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse du Tarn, 12 bd Mendès-France, 81100 Castres
Les concerts clôturent les stages intensifs de violoncelle à Belle Serre
dirigés par la soliste internationale Lowri Blake.
Vous entendrez des solos, des trios avec clarinette/violon, violoncelle et piano, 
et un ensemble orchestral de violoncelles interprétés par les stagiaires venus de toute l’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord.
Venez tous participer à cette fête de violoncelles.
Rejoignez-nous à l’issue du concert pour un apéritif.
Entrée gratuite

Throwing down the gauntlet? Well, with our twelve cellists at Belle Serre at Week 1 of the Cellos at Belle Serre summer courses, and if we can ‘twist the arms’ of our chamber music tutors, clarinettist Mark Lacey and pianist Camille Galinier to join us on the ribs or table, and perhaps even invite our chef Bob to play the ‘scroll’ or ‘spike’ part, we could have the makings of a challenge to all play on one cello à la Carrington Brown and friends. Bravo Rebecca and co, a brilliant performance!

Over to you, Bernard O’Neill – a possible idea for your introduction to improvising on the cello afternoon in Week 1…..?

And, in Week 2, us eleven cellists could join forces with violinist tutor Judith Choi Castro, pianist Andrew Wilson-Dickson, our two visiting gamba players and our two chefs Bob and Rob – that’s seventeen and counting…..what do you think, folks??

Catch the wonderful Rebecca Carrington and Colin Brown in one of their musical comedy cabaret shows live or on youtube for some sparkling entertainment. Have cello, have fizz and fun….

Talking of cello fizz and fun, the summer courses are nearly here, just a few weeks to go. I’m very much looking forward to welcoming old friends and new to Belle Serre, from Canada, France, the UK, Spain, Norway, Switzerland and Ireland for two weeks of intensive study, and intensive relaxation too! A très bientôt!

Practising in the garden

With study visits and summer cello courses getting under way here at Belle Serre in SW France and cellists flying in from the USA, Canada, Spain, France, Ireland, the UK, Holland and Norway, I’m also very much looking forward to two autumn cello days in the UK, one in Hampstead, North London on Saturday 14th October 2017 and the other in Winchester, Hampshire on Saturday November 18th 2017.


Click on these links for full details of the two autumn cello days: Hampstead Cello Day 14.10.17.

Winchester Cello day: Cello day flyer 2

Bookings are open for both days; please contact me via this site or via to reserve your place for the Hampstead Cello Day. To reserve for the Winchester Cello Day please contact Dr L Pearce via email ( also copying me in to the message, thank you. It is advisable to book as early as possible to ensure your place on one or both of the cello days, particularly if you wish to perform in the master class sessions.


Each of the cello days will comprise technical workouts and a cello clinic for finding imaginative ways to practise, an afternoon master class, with cello ensemble sessions both in the morning and in the afternoon to round off a full, intensive and fun day of all things cello. We will be working on different technical aspects and ensemble repertoire at each of these cello days, so if you are able to come along to both, you will have opportunities to play a wide variety of repertoire and work on a range of fresh ideas for your practice – do come and join us!

IMG_5189IMG_5214 IMG_5204

Hampstead Cello Day 14.10.17

Cello day flyer 2



“A brilliant day!” was just one of the very positive messages I received after an intensive and very happy cello day in Cambridge last weekend. Fifteen of us met up for cello ensembles and a technical workout in the morning, followed by an afternoon master class in which four players performed a wide variety of repertoire (some of it new to many of us, including a delightful piece by Arensky and a little known concerto by John Garth), and we rounded off our day revisiting the cello ensembles and giving an informal playthrough performance to family and friends. “I’m finding your ‘crab-walk’ scales completely fascinating!” wrote one player to me about our work on ways to practise technique and exercises imaginatively, and “I learnt a lot and you were very positive with us all!” wrote another.


My thanks to the CAMS Music Trust for inviting us to meet in Cambridge. I look forward to the next one – dates to follow shortly. Meanwhile, I will be holding our second Hampstead Cello Day at the Free Church in Hampstead Garden Suburb on Saturday October 14th 2017, and a Winchester Cello Day on Saturday November 18th 2017.

Full details to follow on this blog and please do contact me via this website if you are interested in participating in future cello days.