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Biographies

Simon Mayor

As well as a fine fiddler, guitarist, composer, producer and wit, Simon Mayor is one of the world’s leading mandolin players. His live performances are a riot of humourous anecdotes and off-the-cuff wit alongside dazzling musicianship.

Simon Mayor has an unequalled reputation in folk and classical circles alike. His recordings have been heralded across the media from magazines such as as Q, Vox, fRoots, Rock ‘n’ Reel, The Living Tradition (Scotland), Sing Out (USA, Trad Mag (France) and Cosmopolitan, to BBC World Service’ BBC World Service, Radio 2 , Radio 3’s In Tune and the Classic FM Artist Chart top ten.

With his debut ‘The Mandolin Album’, he embarked on a series of recordings to realise his longstanding intention to give the mandolin a uniquely British voice.

The CD was immediately made Album of the Week on BBC Radio 2 receiving popular and critical acclaim. His mix of original and traditional material alongside classical showstoppers has brought widespread recognition with invitations from around the globe including the USA (The Classical Mandolin Society of America), Canada (The Stephen Leacock Humour Festival) and Germany (Rudolstadt World Music Festival).

His passion for the mandolin has produced a wealth of teaching books and DVDs, including ‘New Celtic Mandolin’ and ‘The Mandolin Tutor’, which is now widely regarded as the standard work for the instrument.

Simon Mayor

‘The most beautiful bell-like mandolin sound I have ever heard’
Living Tradition (Scotland)

Simon Mayor’s website


Gerald Garcia

From the Wigmore Hall to the Glastonbury Festival to conducting the National Youth Guitar Ensemble, Gerald Garcia’s reputation is confirmed as one of the world’s finest guitarists.

He has toured with the likes of John Williams and Paco Pena, appeared with such diverse talents as Michel Legrand, Barbara Streisand, Larry Coryell and Wayne Shorter, has six solo albums out on the Naxos label… and always brings the wackiest sense of humour to his performances!

His wider travels have found him as far afield as Borneo, the Arctic Circle and China, where he was the first British guitarist to play in recent times. In September 1995 he toured four Chinese cities in a duo with guitarist John Williams

Gerald studied Chemistry at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford where he enjoys cycling, cooking, computer music, Taoist Yoga and conducting.

‘A characterful guitarist: his musical intelligence and perception are to be treasured in an age where bland fluency seems to carry off the major prizes’
Classical Guitar

‘There was an exceptional opportunity at the Wigmore Hall to hear a brilliant exposition of the personalities of the guitar by John Williams, Paco Peña and Gerald Garcia. It was a combination one would like to hear more often – Garcia showed great natural gifts and devotion to his art.’
The Daily Telegraph

Gerald Garcia

‘A superlatively gifted musician.’
South China Morning Post

Gerald Garcia’s website


Hilary James

Hilary James may be best known for her fine singing, but she also takes her place in the Mandolinquents pounding the mighty mandobass.

Her superb voice defies categorisation and has featured everywhere from Classic FM to Radio 1’s Andy Kershaw. Covering everything from traditional folk music to blues and swing, her four solo CDs have been played on radio stations from Los Angeles to Latvia and brought an invitation to make a video with MTV award winning editor/producer Dan Lebenthal in Hollywood.

Hilary James presented music education programmes for national BBC Radio for six years and has illustrated a children’s song book for Faber Music. Together with Simon Mayor she has written over 60 children’s songs, as well as topical songs for news programmes.

Hilary is also making a name for herself as an artist, painting large canvases whenever she gets the time.

Hilary James

‘One of Britain’s finest voices.’
BBC Radio 4

Hilary James’ website


Richard Collins

Richard Collins appeared as both actor and musician with the Royal Shakespeare Company in their 2002 production of ‘A Winter’s Tale’. His latest project is a plectrum style guitar teaching DVD which he managed to record alongside Mandolinquents commitments and his own, ‘A Band like Alice’, which recently recorded an album for EMI’s world music series. When he gets the time he indulges in what he was trained for – maintaining and tuning pianos.

To give you a bit of Richard’s background, he first picked up a guitar at the age of nine and within a couple of years was stunningly adept on a number of stringed instruments.

By his mid-teens he was much in demand at bluegrass festivals and arts centres in his native Hampshire. Now highly regarded as a mandolinist and guitarist, he is also one of the hottest (and subtlest) 5 string banjo players around. He tours regularly with American artists has even been dragged back across the Atlantic for session work in Nashville

Apart from his consummate skill as a musician, Richard has reputedly the largest repertoire of self-deprecating banjo jokes in the world.

Richard Collins