Biography - Rachel Webley (nee Gronow)

Having started playing cello and piano aged eight I discovered the double bass when I was eleven and within a few months had become a member of the West Glamorgan Youth Orchestra with which I was principal bass for many years. At age thirteen I became one of the youngest ever members of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales with whom I spent nine very happy years, four of which as principal bass.

In 1989 I gained a place at Birmingham Conservatoire. During this time I studied double bass with Thomas Martin, John Tattersdill and Thomas Millar and worked with many prominent conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Walter Weller, Esa Pekka Salonen, Sian Edwards, Roger Norrington, Nicholas Kraemer and Kent Nagano. Whilst at Birmingham Conservatoire I held principal positions in the Symphony, Chamber and Sinfonia orchestras, gained one of only a couple of places awarded each year to participate in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra String Training Scheme and won the Sylvia Cleaver chamber music award. It was also during this time in Birmingham that I became a member of the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and began my teaching career at Stratford-upon-Avon Music Centre.

After graduating from Birmingham I returned to South Wales and freelanced for several years working with orchestras and ensembles throughout Britain including Opera Box, The National Chamber Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Chameleon Arts, Welsh Chamber Orchestra and numerous local orchestras and operatic societies.

In 1997 I took on a part time position teaching cello and double bass for the LEA (West Glamorgan where the whole story began). At this point the music service had one double bassist in the whole county, as I had been twelfth double bass when I had first joined the youth orchestra things had to change! After deciding a couple of years later to concentrate on teaching and becoming "the bass teacher" full time I can now happily say we now have over forty double bassists in the county, eight bassists in the county youth orchestra and three of our bassists are currently members of The National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

Apart from teaching the double bass, cello and bass guitar I am also one of the musical directors of the West Glamorgan Youth String Orchestra and one of the founders and musical director of Dragon Strings, an electric string ensemble. I enjoy arranging music for double bass and cello ensembles and also for full string orchestra.



Other passions include smurf collecting, our dogs, gardening and video games!
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