The accompanists for the 2018 festival are:

Stewart Death (Instrumental, Strings)

Kathleen Hesford (Vocal)

Tim Kennedy (Strings)

Dr Valerie Langfield (Vocal)

Steward Death
Stewart Death began his formal musical training at City University studying piano with Alan Schiller at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After graduating with a BSc(Hons) in music in 1987 he entered the Royal Northern College of Music to study piano accompaniment with David Lloyd gaining the prestigious Professional Performers Diploma. Since leaving college he has toured throughout Europe with the Concordia Opera Trio and has been heard as an accompanist on Classic F.M, B.B.C Radio and Independent Television. He has worked as an accompanist for Welsh National Opera and has recorded several compact discs with many different artistes including Stephen Mead, Roger Webster, Simone Rebello and Andrew Berryman. He has recently returned from a tour of Poland and has appeared at many top venues including the Purcell Room, St. David’s Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Barbican Centre.
In 1991, he founded Travelling by Tuba a musical duo who currently perform in excess of 200 concerts a year. This consists of about 30 recitals and 170 educational performances. Their extensive recital schedule has included many concerts at music clubs and festivals throughout the UK, recitals at the Bridgewater Hall, St. David’s Hall and tours to Canada, America and Europe. Recently, they have returned from Carolina where they gave the American premiere of ‘A Rhapsody for Tuba, Piano and Wind Orchestra’ by the Scottish composer Andrew Duncan with the USA Army Band (Pershings Own). They have recorded three compact discs as well as having a series of arrangements published. The group has appeared regularly on BBC Radio and television and for many of the independent networks.
As a teacher, Stewart has taught piano for 2 days a week at Bolton School (Girls) for the last 25 years. He works for several festivals in the North West and is an accompanist member of the British Federation of Festivals.

Kathleen Hesford
Kathleen started playing the piano at 4 years of age and was accepted into the Junior Department of the then Royal Manchester College of Music at the age of 10.
She studied piano and flute, and gained a place at the RNCM on leaving school. After graduating Kathleen specialised in accompaniment, studying with John Wilson and David Lloyd. She also gained her ARCO organ diploma.
Accompaniment has always been her first love and for many years she worked with The Manchester Boys Choir. She travelled extensively with them, performing in Canada, USA , Australia, Russia and many European cities. Performances in the UK include appearances at The Royal Albert Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Bridgewater Hall.
More locally she accompanies two choirs in Manchester.
She is a répétiteur for the Cranleigh Choral week and accompanies at several local music festivals.
Kathleen also teaches piano and works for Salford Music Service.

Tim Kennedy
Tim studied music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and is now a freelance musician based in Manchester. As well as being a piano accompanist, he also works as a professional singer, vocal coach and organist. He is a staff repetiteur for the School of Vocal and Opera Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, playing for singing classes, assessments and recitals. He is an accompanist for the British and International Federation of Festivals. This involves working regularly as an official accompanist at a number of competitive music festivals in the North of England, including Alderley Edge, Bowdon, Burnley, Buxton, Chester, Cleethorpes, Fleetwood, Hazel Grove, Heaton Mersey, and regional championship events.
Tim often accompanies musicians at Manchester University, and plays for auditions for the National Youth Choir. He is the regular rehearsal pianist for the Tatton Singers (Knutsford) and Espressivo Chorus (Cheadle), and also works as an accompanist at Cheadle Hulme School. Tim is also a staff accompanist for the CSSM Summer School, and regularly accompanies singers and instrumentalists in recital. He has also recently accompanied young musicians in competitions at the Uppermill Summer Music Festival and the Keldwyth Cumbrian Young Musicians’ Award. For more detailed information, his website can be found at

Dr V Langfield MA PHD, A.R.C.M. PGCE
Valerie Langfield is a freelance musician,: teacher, accompanist, coach, composer, writer and editor. Originally from London, Valerie has been based in the north-west for 25 years. She trained at Cambridge (where she studied piano with the South African teacher, Valerie Norman) and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama; her work as an accompanist draws substantially on the experience she gained there.
Valerie is an instrumental teacher at the Department of Music, University of Manchester, and as a writer on music, is a contributor to the major music dictionary Grove, and to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
She wrote the definitive biography of the song-composer Roger Quilter while completing her PhD thesis on him, and she has written sleeve notes for several CDs of Quilter’s music. She travels all over the country, giving talks on music – and of course on Quilter in particular.
She produces editions of 19th-century British operas from the original manuscripts and these have been used and recorded by many opera companies across Europe and the USA. She is a founder member of Retrospect Opera (, known for its innovative recordings of British operas.
She plays orchestral piano with the Stockport and Wilmslow Symphony Orchestras, and is the principal accompanist for Stockport Music Service. She loves accompanying at the Heaton Mersey Youth Festival and has lost count of the number of years she has done so.