About Us




Peter Fender had two wonderful holidays in the town of Scicli in south-east Sicily in Autumn 2013 and Easter 2014, having been captivated by the TV series Sicily Unpacked and the Sicilian detective drama, Inspector Montalbano.  He then decided he wanted to put on a concert in the town and was introduced to Marcello Giordano Pellegrino.  Marcello is a fine local musician – a tenor, pianist and teacher – who also runs Skenè Management which, amongst other things, organises concerts.  Marcello organised and promoted the hugely successful first concert in Summer 2014 in the courtyard of Villa Penna, against the backdrop of the town’s stunning panorama.  That year the concert was performed by The Angel Orchestra from London, with a few friends and relations.  Such a good time was had by all that Peter decided to continue the format and took over the organisation for 2015, creating a special orchestra for the event, the South London Sinfonietta (he lives in South London).  

One of the pleasures of performing in a Mediterranean climate in Summer is that concerts are always in the open air: subsequent concerts were held in the Cloisters of the Town Council Atrium in Modica (2015), the amphitheatre of the Stone Museum in Sampieri overlooking the sea (2016 & 2017) and then back to Scicli, to the Cloisters of the Carmine Convent (2018).  After a ‘year off’ in 2019, the following two years, sadly, had to be called off due to issues associated with the pandemic.  But the 2022 course and concert will again be in Scicli.  See the Gallery for pictures of past concerts and courses.

Another important local musician in Scicli is Girolamo Manenti.  Girolamo is a clarinettist, bass clarinettist and conductor and he has in recent years taken the lead in the organisation of our concerts, assisted by Marcello Pellegrino.  Much thanks is due to them both.

Along the way we have made a great friend in Massimo Borgese.  Massimo is the proprietor of Scicli B&B, in which Peter has always stayed in Scicli. Massimo organises accommodation for a large part of the orchestra, plus the outdoor breakfasts in Caffe Sicilia.  He is wonderfully gregarious and helpful and knows absolutely everything and everyone in Scicli!



Here are some comments from some of the many people who have been on the course:

“Probably one of the best courses of its kind.  Wonderful music in a fabulous location.   The emphasis is on fun, good food, relaxation, and great music” – RC, double bass.

“I love this course.   Playing good music is always enjoyable, but to do so in such a beautiful place, with good weather pretty much guaranteed – what could be better?  Beautiful beaches, history, art, amazing scenery, wonderful food. Interesting people to meet and play music with, but your own space too. I will definitely be going again.” – LH, oboe

“Taking my cello to Scicli was a fabulous experience. Rehearsing in the morning and going on trips in the afternoon, swimming in the warm sea from lovely clean, uncrowded beaches, culminating in performing to hundreds of people who seemed to arrive from nowhere in an amphitheatre overlooking the sea. What could possibly be better?  The town is so beautiful – all those world heritage churches, and the thrill of recognising scenes from Montalbano.” – SJ, ‘cello

“Music course with a difference: Not too serious, good music, good wine, good food, good friends and good fun.” – MM, horn


Who’s Who


Peter Fender, conductor
Peter Fender, conductor

Peter began his musical career as an early music specialist, playing the violin regularly with groups such as the Academy of Ancient Music, the Sixteen and the Hanover Band.  More recently his focus has shifted towards conducting.  In 2007 he formed the orchestra Philharmonia Britannica, keen to create interesting juxtapositions by mixing music with other art forms – such as acting, poetry, dance, comedy or video.  He is also currently the musical director of The Angel Orchestra, Camden Philharmonia and the 6 Centuries Chamber Choir.  Aside from his native England he has conducted across Europe.  Known for his innovative programming, he has conducted many works by unjustly neglected female composers (Ethel Smyth, Amy Beach and Louise Farrenc amongst others).  He is delighted that The Angel Orchestra, from 2019, performs at least one work by a woman in each of its concerts.

Having studied conducting with Peter Stark and Michael Rose, Peter regularly leads conducting workshops – from days introducing conducting to non-musicians to advanced classes with full orchestra.

Peter has composed a wide variety of music (orchestral, choral, chamber, songs, solo piano, music for computer game) and has released three CDs of his music.  As an arranger and editor he has worked on music by composers such as Ethel Smyth, Imogen Holst, Monteverdi and Haydn. Full details of his musical activities (plus a short film about him) are on his website. Peter feels that a year is not a proper one unless it contains at least two trips to Italy …


Jessica O'Leary
Jessica O’Leary, leader

Combining performing, teaching, examining, writing, mentoring, adjudicating and editing, Jessica has a persuasive portfolio career. Jessica has recorded and toured internationally as a professional violinist and member of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Principal 2nd violin of the Orchestra of St. John’s for twenty-five years.

Jessica is passionate about playing and teaching music in a variety of styles and has worked with Madonna, Led Zeppelin, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Opera House.

Jessica is Head of Strings at a London Independent School, string consultant and examiner for ABRSM and regularly presents seminars to teachers and adjudicates festivals in the UK and Asia. She recently co-authored a beginner string method series Basics and Flexi Violin with Paul Harris while her Best of Grade collection and 80 Graded studies are also published by Faber.

Coming from a family of innovative string teachers who were the first to start the Suzuki method in Europe, Jessica played in the Cork, Irish and European Youth Orchestras before moving to London to take up a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music where she had chamber music lessons with the Amadeus String Quartet. She is Head of Strings at Eltham College, London and taught violin and viola at Junior Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London for fifteen years. She has been a tutor on National Youth Orchestra Outreach days, works with the Autistic society and regularly plays chamber music.


Yuri Sabatini, tenor
Yuri Sabatini, tenor

The Italian Tenor Yuri Sabatini began his studies in Rome as a private student at the Conservaoire. After moving to London, he continued his vocal studies with Robert Alderson in Manchester which led him to win the competition organised by the Royal Opera House on the occasion of the BP Summer Screens in August 2008 for Best Singer in the men’s section. Then, after a masterclass held by David Gowland (Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Programme), Yuri was able to perform live in Trafalgar Squarein in front of an audience of 10,000 people.

After this important stepping stone, he continued his singing career as first tenor with Scottish Opera Company, Northern Ireland Opera and the London Philharmonic Chorus, in concerts conducted by illustrious conductors (including Riccardo Muti) appearing in prominent venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Cathedral. In the following years, Yuri sang as soloist with various companies in the UK, as Elvino in Bellini’s Sonnambula, Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Nemorino in Donizett’s Elixir d’amore and Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth and Don Jose in Bizet’s Carmen

Yuri has sung at exclusive events in important locations in the City of London, such as the London Stock Exchange, Mansion House, and the Guildhall, and at Landshut’s Stadtresidenz in Germany, and has appeared in various TV broadcasts, including BBC Songs of Praise, and on Channel 4. Alongside his singing activities, Yuri teaches singing in London and continues his technical-professional growth with the American voice teacher David Jones.


Coro Polifonico Enarmonia
Coro Polifonico Enarmonia

The Coro Polifonico Enarmonia, founded in 1986, has contributed in no small manner to the birth and growth of choral singing in the city and province of Ragusa through its concerts and participation in events and festivals.  

Amongst its collaborations the following are noteworthy:

Collaborating with the director/actor Gianni Battaglia for the performance of the sacred drama ‘I Parti’, which was recognised by UNESCO.  The first Italian performance of Karl Jenkins ‘The Armed Man’ with the ensemble ‘L’Homme armé’. Taking part in the musical ‘È solo una fiaba’ by Donatella Carbonaro, with the director Maurizio Nicastro.  Performances at the ‘St George Concert’ in the concert season of ‘Ibla Sacra International’.  Taking part in several versions of the Passion of Christ in collaboration with the Diocesan Office for Culture.  The world première of the oratorio ‘In Natali Domino’ by Salvatore Schembari.  A ‘Concert for Peace’ at the Naselli Theatre in Comiso.

The choir is directed by Maestro Dario Adamo. Professor Gisella Tirella teaches vocal technique and the accompanist is Chika Nagata.