Artists Bios

Matthew McAllister

Scottish musician Matthew McAllister is widely regarded as one of the most exciting and talented Classical Guitarists in Europe and has been delighting audiences worldwide with his exquisite performances and effortless presentation for over a decade.

Born in Falkirk and raised in the East Neuk of Fife, Matthew studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, with Allan Neave. Since graduating with Bachelor of Music with Honours in 2003, he has enjoyed continued success and is a regular performer and educator at Classical Guitar Festivals and Concert Series worldwide.

Regularly appearing on the stages of many major international Cities Matthew has performed in Los Angeles, Toronto, San Jose, Lima, Mexico City, San Francisco, Edinburgh, Sarajevo, Montreal, Tallinn, Chicago, Caracas, Abu Dhabi, Minsk, Vancouver, Reykjavik to name a few. Matthew has performed live on British, Spanish, Malaysian, Belgium, Peruvian, Dutch, Polish, Bosnian and Chilean television, has been featured on numerous radio broadcasts worldwide, toured extensively throughout North & South America, Europe and Asia both as a soloist and chamber musician. His Flute and Guitar Duo with Irish Flautist Aisling Agnew is a world leader in the genre having gained the very highest praise from music critics and their peers.

Matthew has produced an extensive discography with Natural Studio Records, Baros Records and RTE Lyric. WIth 7 albums to his name his output is as eclectic as it is accomplished.

His latest solo album French Collection (released in 2015) is tour de force of the French repertoire, Bach & Brouwer (released in 2008) is a bold pairing of suites by J.S.Bach and Leo Brouwer, Matthew’s debut album Merula (released in 2004) has now received a second edition pressing with Baros Records.

Matthew’s 2006 and 2015 albums Recital and Bidla with his duo partner Irish flautist Aisling Agnew affirms their reputation as the leading exponents of the Flute & Guitar genre featuring a wide range of virtuosic and beautiful music from around the globe.

As an educator Matthew holds the posts of Classical Guitar Tutor and Lecturer in Music at the University of St Andrews & Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and most recently established the Classical Guitar Retreat which presents a residential summer course on the Island of Cumbrae off the West Coast of Scotland.

“The guitar work, substituting for a more ambitious orchestra, carries the burden of shading the bright, optimistic, and virtuosic flute with all the dark foreboding of the drama. McAllister accomplishes this brilliantly with great understatement, never intruding, yet always pointing to the tragedy.”

Classical Music Guide


“From Baroque flair to modern soundscapes the Agnew McAllister Duo deliver virtuosity, beauty, and solid musicianship making Bidla a top ensemble pick for 2015.”

This is Classical Guitar


I had the chance to meet Matthew McAllister a few years back when he was adjudicating the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival in Canada. He is one of nicest people I’ve met and inspired my students as well as demonstrated some beautiful playing.

Bradford Werner Victoria Guitar Trio


Amanda Cook

Dubbed “The ‘guitar queen’ with a silken touch” by The Independent. Amanda has appeared as a soloist in the USA, South America and throughout Europe. In the UK she has performed at the South Bank, Wigmore Hall, St George’s Bristol, King’s Place and The Sage Gateshead. She has been broadcast on television and radio, both abroad and in the UK, including BBC Radio 3 on “In Tune” and “Late Junction”, BBC Radio 4 on “Woman’s Hour,” and Classic FM.

Amanda won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music, where she studied with Charles Ramirez, Gary Ryan and Jakob Lindberg and whilst there won several prizes for her performances. She then went on to study with Benjamin Verdery in New York with the help of the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Several composers have dedicated works to Amanda, including Nato Lima, Paul Gregory, Cristiano Porqueddu, William Lovelady and Peter Stewart.

Along with her solo work Amanda is also a member of the critically acclaimed Vida Guitar Quartet.

Amanda has sat on the jury for several international competitions and regularly adjudicates music festivals in the UK. She is a patron of the Federation of Guitar Societies.



Amir John Haddad 

Amir-John Haddad was born In Freiburg Germany in 1975  with a Colombian and Palestinian background. He was raised and educated in Germany and lived for a short while in Bogotá (Colombia). Since childhood he hasn’t stopped travelling and has been always in contact with music. His family environment taught him how to play music by ear. He learned music, his future language, by oral transmission and was only 8 years old when he officially started studying the Flamenco guitar after learning Arabic oud at home by the hand of his father and first teacher Rimon Haddad.

Amir started playing live at school venues when he was 7 years old and by the age of 12 he gave his first public concert on a “real” stage. Since a very small age Amir was led to diverse music styles from South American folklore to classical music, classical Arabic and Oriental music over to African music, Flamenco music… as well as western influences like Jazz, Rock, Funk, Pop, Metal, Fusion… “When I was seven years old our TV quit working and my parents didn’t replace it so from that moment on I was raised without TV at home and that was very important to my playing and my innocent and creative approach to music!”

Years later in 1997 Amir decided to move further south to live and study guitar in one of the most important birthplaces of Flamenco, Jerez de la Frontera (Andalucía-Spain). As he says: “I left Germany with my guitar and a suitcase full of illusions & expectations! I wanted to learn this art form the traditional way by oral transmission in the streets meeting the artists and make my experiences through living with the people and share many moments of “juerga” (Flamenco jam all night long)!” During his period in Andalucía he was disciple of famous guitar maestros like Pepe Justicia and Enrique de Melchor. This experience was going to be very important for his career.

In 1998 Amir moved on to Madrid to find new frontiers and keep on growing professionally as a musician and find a place in the music scene, “I wanted to make a living out of what I liked the most! I couldn’t imagine myself in the future without playing my instrument!” He played in famous Flamenco Tablaos such as Las Carboneras, Café de Chinitas, Corral de la Pacheca, Casa Patas etc.

It was in Madrid when Amir was invited to join and play with the legendary and famous Spanish World Music Band Radio Tarifa. Amir was the official oud, bouzouki and guitar player for almost ten years and made many world tours through a large number of countries and cities. In 1999 he won the first prize for original musical composition at the national “Certamen de Coreografia de Danza Española y Flamenco” at the Teatro Albeniz in Madrid.

Esmond Selwyn

Esmond Selwyn has long been recognised as one of the UK's greatest performing jazz guitarists and jazz educators. A view that has been readily seconded by many of the world's leading jazz dignitaries from the legendary Johnny Smith, and Tal Farlow to Miles Davis sidesman, Dave Liebman.

After Esmond had played a set at Ronnie Scott's Club with Bill le Sage he was to receive a most memorable accolade from legendary Miles Davis tenor sax sidesman, George Coleman "You sound great, boy!

From Tony Mottola, Frank Sinatra's guitarist, a personal letter reads "You have great chops! (technique) My pleasure these days comes from listening to great jazz guitarists such as yourself..."

Esmond's style forms a direct link with the great jazz guitarists of the past, many of whom befriended him and instructed him: Chuck Wayne, Tal Farlow, George van Eps, Barry Galbraith and Sal Salvador. Esmond has appeared on the bill with Chick Corea, Elvin Jones, Charlie Byrd and has personally accompanied American jazz giants Art Farmer, Al Cohn and Jimmy Witherspoon.  His many other engagements have included a Royal Wedding and playing for a private party for Frank Sinatra at London's Savoy Hotel.

Contact Info

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Tel: (+44) (0)28 71311288 / (0)752 1072774
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Tel: (+44) (0)28 71311288 / (0)752 1072774


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