Key People

Kenneth McAllister - Conductor

Kenneth McAllister

Kenneth McAllister was born and educated in Glasgow.

He studied clarinet and piano at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), gaining a Sir James Caird Scholarship, before completing a postgraduate qualification at the Royal College of Music in London. He taught in the Junior Department of the RCM and conducted the RCM Junior Department Orchestra from 1967 to 1969. He gained a Conducting Diploma in St. Petersburg.

He performed both as a soloist and as an orchestral player with most of the country's leading orchestras, including Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, Northern Sinfonia, National Philharmonic, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera and St John's Smith Square Orchestra.

Kenneth has recorded for the BBC and for many film and recording sessions. He has played under Sir Adrian Boult, Bernard Haitink, George Solti, Colin Davis, Simon Rattle, Rudolf Barshai, Vernon Handley, Charles Groves, John Pritchard, and Yehudi Menuhin.

He has conducted in Russia, France and Italy: The Pisa Opera Group, The St Petersburg Camerata. He has also conducted and coached the London Schools Symphony Orchestra, Hertford Schools Orchestra, the British Youth Wind Orchestra, and Westminster School Choir and Orchestra. He founded and directed the Putney Chamber Choir. Before returning to live in Scotland he was Music Director of The Stratford Upon Avon Operatic and Choral Society, and sat on the Board of The Stratford Music Festival. He was also the Conductor of Scottish Borders Community Orchestra between 2007 and 2010

Kenneth was involved from the outset with the Centre for Young Musicians in London and continued to teach there until 1991. He also taught on The Special Music Course, set up by the ILEA at Pimlico School to teach musically gifted children from throughout London from 1970 to 1996.

He was Head of Woodwind and Director of Jazz at Westminster School from 1990 until he left London in 2002. He was Adjudicator for Schools Chamber Music Trust.

Some of Kenneth's former pupils are amongst the most prominent players of their generation.

Claire Taylor - Leader

Claire Taylor

Claire Louise Taylor was born in Manchester and came to Scotland to study music at the University of Edinburgh in 1995. She graduated with honours in 1999, having studied violin with Peter Markham and voice with Eric von Ibler.

Claireís day job is in Health and Social Care, managing teams to support adults with autism and learning disabilities. She has a very active musical life outside work. She is well known on the Edinburgh and Borders amateur scene, playing for Orchestra of the Canongait, Scottish Sinfonia, Yetholm Sinfonia, Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble and the Findhorn Quartet. Claire particularly enjoys playing for the local am-dram societies and has recently been in the pit for Oklahoma!, Oliver!, Blitz!, Kiss Me Kate, Into the Woods, Carousel, Guys Ďní Dolls and many more, always singing along to all the tunes! She also regularly plays for the Nenthorn String Quartet, Scottish Romance Orchestra and leads the orchestras for Edinburgh Grand Opera and Opera Camerata.

Claire is also an accomplished soprano, having performed a diverse range of roles, from Iris in Handelís Semele, to Sarah Brown in Guys Ďní Dolls! She also sings with the choir of St Gilesí Cathedral and is a regular soloist with them.

Judith Buttars - Soloist (viola)


Judith started playing the viola at the age of 13, in response to a shortage of violas at her school! Whilst at St. Leonardís School in St. Andrews, she studied with Steve King (SCO) and was a co-principal of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and Camerata Scotland, touring Amsterdam, Berlin, London and Tallinn.

After graduating with a BMus (Hons) from the University of Glasgow, she completed a PGCE (with distinction) from Moray House, Edinburgh University and started working as a teacher of Music at George Heriotís School in Edinburgh. In addition to her role at Heriotís, Judith is the Director of the String Orchestra and conducts a variety of Chamber Ensembles, most notably the Chamber Choir with whom she has toured extensively throughout Europe. Most recently she has also accepted a position as Tutor of Upper Strings at Kilgraston School.

Judith is one of the most sought after viola players on the Scottish orchestral scene and is currently principal viola for the Orchestra of the Canongait, Abbey Consort, Tayside Symphony Orchestra, Philomusica, and of course, Peebles.