Meet the Family

Play, Inspire, Achieve.

David Curtis

Music Director

David Curtis’ career has encompassed chamber music, instrumental teaching and conducting - performing, teaching and coaching at the highest level. As viola player in the Coull String Quartet, he toured all around the world, recording over 25 CDs and gave over 250 broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.  

In 1993, David founded Orchestra of the Swan, one of UK’s most successful chamber orchestras – and was its Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for twenty-five years; touring with the orchestra to Germany, China, Mexico and the USA.  

David has been the Music Director of the North Hungarian Symphony and has conducted the Academy of St Martin’s-in-the-Field, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony, Moravská Filharmonie and Festival Chorus, Mikkeli City Orchestra, Hamburg Symphonica and many other professional, student and amateur orchestras. 

A reassuringly calm yet always encouraging and cajoling presence,” The Gramophone 

“Curtis’s conducting is close to Boult’s, if more intimate and slightly more perceptive” The American Record Guide 

Sarah Marshall

Founder & Managing Director

Sarah Marshall has been the Artistic and Managing Director of The People’s Orchestra since she created the orchestra back in 2012. Founded with a principle wish to keep people playing music, the orchestra has grown into one of the UK’s leading community orchestras in just four short years.

Coming from a non-music background, Sarah set out to prove that orchestras could be set up, ran differently and still wow audiences with a high standard of performance. Despite pressure in the early years to lower the entry level for musicians, the orchestra stuck to its word and kept a Grade 7 entry (good sight reading being the key to playing with this group), opening up sections to an infinite number of players, encouraging all types of instruments to join and reducing financial barriers to play. The orchestra is now 70 strong and growing.

But it doesn’t end there. As volunteers joined in to help with the back-office roles such as marketing, administration and graphical design (to name just a few). They began leave a few weeks later after gaining paid employment. Sarah found funding to extend support and training offered by the charity for unemployed volunteers. The orchestra charity has since gone on to help hundreds of people back into paid employment, into education or on to set up their own businesses, all in one of the most deprived areas of England.



John Altman

John Altman is a highly accomplished composer and jazz musician. In the jazz world he has performed with many great names.

The John Altman Big Band frequently performs in the US and UK. He is also a Patron of the National Jazz Archive. He recently recorded the big band for an album released in the New Year of 2018.

Peter Cater


What he said about us
“The People's Orchestra epitomises genuine equality of opportunity, whereby musicians from every socio-economic and ethnic background; from teens to seniors, come together to share the joy of music making with one another, and with their ever-increasing audiences in live performance.
Already the orchestra has created wide ranging opportunities for its members and the logical next step is that it should foster new composers, who in developing their skills and experience will create new repertoire which is unique to the most unique aggregation. In my four decades as a professional musician I have rarely worked in such a rewarding environment. Every town and city should have a People's Orchestra.”

John Koutselinis


John Koutselinis is an award winning freelance music composer who has been composing film scores for short and feature length films for many years. His most notable collaborators include Gary Kurtz, Richard Bazley, Steve Stone, Danny Wilson and Mel Smith.

In 2015 John won the Best Music award at the London Ealing Film Awards for his work on the short film Centurion Resurrection (Richard Bazley), as well as the Outstanding Composer award for his work on the web series We Are Angels (Aaron Garcia) at LA Web Fest.

He has recently completed the score for the feature films In Extremis (Steve Stone), Decline of an Empire (Michael Redwood) and the animated feature Nephilim (Danny Wilson). He is also set to compose the score for the film Struggle To The Light (David Barckhoff & David Blair), a biopic on the life of Sir Winston Churchill, as well as the score for the film Dark Alliance (Graham Rushton) in 2017.
“I am an avid supporter of 'The People's Orchestra' and I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to record some of my pieces. 'The People's Orchestra' gives invaluable unity in bringing people together through music, first and foremost by having fun and in the process by creating wonderful events, such as concerts and also by creating recorded music such as this EP.
The pieces we recorded include 'Beyond the Skies', which I wrote specifically for 'The People's Orchestra' and the end credits from a wonderful film by K&K productions titled 'Cable: The Chronicles of Hope' which was a homage to the X-Men universe.
I am very grateful for these recordings and I hope you will enjoy them as much I enjoyed the recording process with 'The People's Orchestra.”

Liz Read

Orchestra Manager
Liz first came to the orchestra as a flautist in 2017, and loved it so much she has now taken on the role of managing the orchestra! When not at TPO Towers, Liz also teaches music and leads choirs in primary schools around Birmingham. In her spare time she enjoys circus aerials skills classes, yoga, cooking and travelling.

"TPO is a great bunch of people with lots of talent. I played with the orchestra for two years before becoming Orchestra Manager, and I'm really excited to get stuck in behind the scenes to support our players and provide lots of great opportunities for this space!"

Julia Hartland

Music Librarian

Julia Hartland is a key part of the orchestra and makes sure everything is well organised in her role as Music Librarian. This involves the preparation and distribution of all music (there is reams and reams of it!) for the orchestra’s concerts and events.  She also ensures everyone is up to date by managing orchestra communications.  Community inclusion is an important part of the orchestra's values and Julia is a great role model for this by running a weekly 'Knit and Natter' group where all are welcome.

"Before coming to work for The People's Orchestra I had difficultly finding suitable employment. I suffer from the eye condition Keratoconus. and have vision problems that are difficult to correct. Working with the orchestra has helped me sustain regular employment, to begin with as a volunteer and now as a member of staff, doing something that I really enjoy".