Jeremy Harmer, Steve Bingham & the Ad Hoc Strings

When the Cambridge Philharmonic orchestra (where Jeremy – as an amateur – plays viola) looked for a new professional leader they were lucky enough to find Steve Bingham. Back his student days Steve studied at the Royal Academy of Music where he met Brenda Stewart (viola). With two others they founded the Bingham Quartet, a world class ensemble that continues to command audiences both at home and abroad. Steve has played concertos with a number of orchestras and has guest lead The BBC Scottish Chamber orchestra amongst others. He also conducts (and is music director of) the Ad Hoc Orchestra, The Ad Hoc Strings, the Ely Sinfonia and the Peterborough Symphony orchestra. If that wasn’t enough, he has also played for the prog rock band ‘No-man’ and in the ‘Band of Perfect Strangers’ (Judy Dyble’s current band) and as an electric violinist and looper he does a lot of solo concerts both in the UK and abroad.

Steve and Jeremy (after meeting at the Cambridge Philharmonic – see above) have collaborated on Touchable Dreams, a show of poetry and music which they have performed in the UK, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Mexico, Uruguay, Romania, Argentina and other countries (they are doing the show in the Isle of Ely Arts festival in June 2018). They were commissioned by the British Council to do their show ‘Bent and broken into a better shape’, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens – and Jeremy has narrated works with the Bingham Quartet and Steve’s two orchestras. For his solo shows Steve plays (amongst other pieces) looped arrangements by musical arranger Phil Toms.

When Jeremy made his first CD Steve put him in touch with Phil Toms who arranged 4 of the songs on the album. Since then Phil has written arrangements of Jeremy’s songs for his third album ‘And Then We Will Sing’, and it is some of those arrangements you will hear when Jeremy performs for Creative Royston on July 8th. Jeremy and Phil also wrote an oratorio ‘Island’ (for orchestra, soloists and children and adult choruses) which had its premiere in Ely cathedral in 2015 and will be performed again in June 2018 in Chelmsford cathedral.

The Ad Hoc string ensemble comprises:

Steve Bingham as leader (see above)
Kate Clow – a nurse and midwife who has been playing violin since the age of six. Sitting on the front desk of the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra she is also the leader of the Ad Hoc Orchestra and the Ely Sinfonia. Well-known in and around Cambridge she also has her own quartet.
Brenda Stewart – the vicar of Wells-next-the-sea. She was a student at the Royal Academy where she met (and married!) Steve Bingham and co-founded the Bingham Quartet. She has performed concertos and duo concerts with Steve up and down the land.
Katy Baker – an environmentalist who plays violin and viola (she is principal viola in the Ely Sinfonia). In the Ad Hoc ensemble she plays viola.
Josh Lynch – currently completing a masters degree in performance studies at the Guildhall school of music and drama, Josh is principal cello for the Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ad Hoc Strings amongst others. He plays as a folk duo with Jeremy. He has performed a number of solo recitals and has played with the Britten Sinfonia amongst other orchestras.
Stuart Clow – computer software expert, plays cello and (in the Ad Hoc String ensemble) double bass. He has played (and been principal bass) in a number of orchestras in and around around Cambridge including all of those mentioned above. Of course it was music, many years ago, which lead to his meeting with (and marriage to) violinist Kate!

As for me? Well I was a folk singer-songwriter in London in my 20s. I gradually stopped playing when I moved to Mexico to teach English (I have been a teacher and educational writer since then). My collaboration with Steve Bingham brought me back to the guitar (there are two songs in Touchable dreams – see above) some 12 years ago since when I have become more and more involved as a player, singer, songwriter, spoken-word performer.

When I think I get to play with string players of such calibre as those people above – and with Steve, who is a very close friend and collaborator – I wonder how I got to be so damned lucky!

Oh, and as a footnote, Matt Kelly from Thursday’s Band is also an exceptional classical violinist and viola player and has played in the Ad Hoc Strings and the Ad Hoc orchestra under the baton of – Steve Bingham! Small world.

Jeremy Bingham, May 2018