Biographies - Violas

Iona Hassan - Viola

Originally from Aberdeenshire, Iona Hassan was involved in concerts throughout the local area from an early age and was a regular member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, becoming their Principal Viola in 2000. Iona was a student at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow from 1996 where she studied with James Durrant and Cathy Marwood. Whilst at college Iona was a prize-winner in both the Watson Forbes Prize for Viola Players and the Mary D Adams Chamber Music Prize. During this time Iona enjoyed freelancing with many of Scotland's top orchestras including the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In 2002 Iona was appointed Principal Viola of the Southbank Sinfonia, based in London. During this time Iona performed in numerous chamber music and orchestral concerts around the country and abroad and also began studying with Philip Dukes.

Iona has freelanced regularly with orchestras around the UK including the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and English Symphony Orchestras and is regularly Principal Viola of the Bristol Ensemble and Southbank Strings. She is also the Artistic Director of the Auriga Strings.

Iona has run Super Strings East, based at Great Bedwyn School, and Super Strings Marlborough since 2008. She also helps to run White Horse Music, based in Woodborough, Wiltshire, which seeks to promote and encourage the performance of traditional music by people of all ages and abilities. Iona also runs the Junior String Scheme at Wells Cathedral School, Somerset, and has done since 2006. She teaches Violin, Viola and Chamber Music there.

Mariam Ruetschi - Viola

From Geneva, Switzerland, Mariam Ruetschi moved to London to study viola with Philip Dukes at Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 2001. Upon graduating from music college Mariam has been working with various UK orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra and, most recently, the Royal Opera House Orchestra at Covent Garden. She also works with the London Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and Orchestra de Cadaques. She is highly sought after as both a soloist and chamber musician in London and further afield.

Carol Ella - Viola

Scottish violist Carol Ella studied with Simon Rowland-Jones at the Royal College of Music in London, where she graduated with Distinction. She has worked with various British orchestras including the LSO (where she won the Promis Award), Philharmonia, RSNO and the John Wilson Orchestra.

Carol is a founder member of Liquid Architecture, a prize-winning octet currently on the Making Music scheme. When not eating turnips, Carol can be found in the BBC Symphony Orchestra where she holds the No4 Viola chair.

Louise Hawker - Viola

Louise Hawker studied viola at the Royal College of Music in London, graduating in 2004. An active chamber musician, she was a founder member of the Emanuel Ensemble, and with them made her debuts at the Wigmore Hall and at the Purcell Room. Still enjoying chamber music, she now pursues a busy freelance career as an orchestral musician, and has performed with most of the UK's leading ensembles including the Philharmonia; BBC Scottish Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony orchestras; the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National and Ulster Orchestras. With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Louise has toured extensively across Europe, Canada and the United States. She is co-founder and co-director of the London Kensington Sinfonia, an orchestra that has appeared on The One Show and is developing a reputation as a recording ensemble, with credits including the soundtrack to the acclaimed BBC docu-drama First Light.

Sam Parratt - Viola

Sam Parratt currently enjoys a busy career across the UK as a recitalist, orchestral musician and recording artist. He works with various orchestras including The Royal Opera House, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera and many other ensembles, including performances at the BBC Proms, and tours to China and Europe. Sam has also worked alongside classical music stars such as Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, Blake, Paul Potts and Lesley Garrett on their UK tours, and has played with the chart-topping group Goldfrapp as part of their live show.

Equally at home in the recording studio, Sam has recently recorded numerous performances for BBC Radio 3, Chandos and for various bands and artists; and recently recorded a song with Dame Shirley Bassey which was broadcast on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing television programme.

Sam's training took place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where he studied with Simon Rowland-Jones, founder violist of the Chilingirian String Quartet. During his time at the college he was the recipient of the Cavatina Chamber Music Prize, Nick Whiting Orchesral Prize and Peter Esswood String Prize. He graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music and Postgraduate Diploma, both with distinction in performance.

Clara Biss - Viola

Clara Biss enjoys a busy and varied career, playing both the violin and viola, and performing as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician and teacher. Having spent four years as a member of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, she is now much in demand as a guest principal 2nd violin in orchestras including English National Opera, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and RPO. She is a member of The Britten Sinfonia, and has worked with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Halle and ECO.

As a chamber musician, Clara plays regularly with Endymion and has been a guest of The Dante Quartet, Primrose Piano Quartet and Touchwood Ensemble. Clara has played Open Chamber Music at IMS Prussia Cove, as well as at festivals such as Cheltenham, Winchester, and at King's Place. As a member of The Tavec Quartet, which won the Rio Tinto Chamber Music Prize in the Royal Overseas League competition, Clara played in the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and on the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme.

Aside from playing, Clara enjoys teaching violin and viola to the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, and has been involved in many education and community projects, including a project in India in 2011. She has also been a tutor on music courses such as 'Cadenza' and 'The Vacation Chamber Orchestra'.

Clara studied at the Guildhall School of Music with Krysia Osostowicz, and at the Royal College of Music with Itzhak Rashkovsky and Ivo Van Der Werff.

Iona Hassan

Mariam Ruetschi

Carol Ella

Louise Hawker

Sam Parratt

Clara Biss