Learn about the people who created Psappha Kids: Music Explained

Tom McKinney - presenterTom McKinney presenter
Guitarist Tom McKinney has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at most of Britain’s major festivals and worked with many of our leading ensembles and orchestras. He was born in Stoke-on-Trent and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Craig Ogden, where he now also lectures. In the last few years Tom has been a regular voice on BBC Radio 3, presenting Weekend Breakfast, Hear & Now, live concerts and outdoor broadcasts throughout the UK, and has written and presented numerous features.


Alison_Carver -016 - Copy - Copy

Alison Carver educationalist
Alison studied Music at The University of Manchester, followed by postgraduate studies in London and at the RNCM. She began her career working as an orchestral percussionist, pianist and theatre musical director. During  this time, Alison began composing children’s music and received commissions from BBC Television and Radio. She has worked in primary music education since 1995, and continues to write songs, musicals, choral and instrumental music for the children that she teaches. Alison is published by Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

Tim Williams  Artistic Director, Psappha
The idea for Psappha Kids came from Tim Williams, Psappha’s Artistic Director. Worried that music in primary education was diminishing due to schools not having a music specialist to call upon, Tim decided to create a resource that could be used by teachers with no specialist music training.

Having already established the highly successful www.compositionlab.co.uk (used in 73 countries) to support composition in schools and colleges for students 16+ we felt that teachers in primary schools needed our support to bring music back to the classroom.

Psappha Ensemble
Psappha Ensemble

Conrad Marshall  flute
Dov Goldberg  clarinet
Benjamin Powell  piano
Tim Williams  percussion
Tom McKinney  electric guitar
Benedict Holland  violin
Jennifer Langridge  cello
Daniel Whibley  double bass


Psappha is a professional contemporary classical music ensemble. Formed in 1991 by its Artistic Director Tim Williams, Psappha specialises in the performance of music by living composers and that of the 20th and 21st centuries. The group has an extensive and varied repertoire of hundreds of works and a reputation for technical assurance and interpretive flair.

Psappha has commissioned and premièred many new works by a wide range of composers, including our patron, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Supporting the next generation of talent in the form of student and early career composers is also an important strand to our work.

In autumn 2010 Psappha launched www.compositionlab.co.uk a unique, free learning resource supporting composing by 14 to 18 year olds (and beyond!). Autumn 2015 saw the launch of www.psapphakids.com our fantastic new resource supporting the teaching and learning of music for 7 to 11 year olds.

Psappha has appeared throughout the UK, featuring regularly at most of the country’s major music festival including the BBC Proms, special Henze, Maxwell Davies and Bernstein portrait series at London’s Southbank Centre, and in residencies at the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney.

Psappha has made highly successful tours to North and South America, Australia, and throughout Europe, and has also appeared in the United States and Hong Kong through residencies at Princeton University and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Psappha won the Manchester Evening News Award for Opera in 2000 and has been shortlisted three times for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award. Having made a number of recordings on various labels, Psappha launched its own CD label in 2004. Most recently we have released Peter Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King on vinyl, to celebrate Max’s 80th birthday.

Psappha is continually seeking to develop new audiences and break fresh ground. Through our website – www.psappha.com – we provide more than ninety free-to-view films of live performances which can be viewed via all devices.

Michael Gandolfi composer
Boston-based composer Michael Gandolfi has a broad range of musical interests encompassing not only contemporary concert music but also jazz, blues and rock, by which route he first became a musician. The span of his musical investigation is paralleled by his cultural curiosity, resulting in many points of contact between the world of music and other disciplines, including science, film, and theater.

Mr. Gandolfi has received commissions from the Atlanta Symphony, the Fromm Foundation, Boston Musica Viva, Speculum Musicae, and the Koussevitzky Foundation, among many others.

In addition to fulfilling commissions, Mr. Gandolfi also teaches:  he’s currently chair of the Composition Department at the New England Conservatory of Music and is a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Centre.

Production Team
All filming took place at Hallé St. Peter’s in Ancoats, Manchester, UK
Tim Williams  Producer and Editor
Matthew Norman, Annie Gibson & Michael England  cameras
Joe Reiser  Sound recording
David Nicholls  graphic designer