Raven

Raven, Real music. Real instruments. Real talent.

This gifted all-female string quartet have been taking the classical world by storm with their extraordinary renditions of entirely original arrangements since 2007.

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Stephanie Benedetti

Born and raised in West Kilbride to Italian parents, Stephanie’s unique hybrid Scottish/Italian/English accent has kept Raven amused on many a long tour journey. Steph started playing the violin at a very young age and her obvious talent was developed at Well’s Cathedral School, Somerset. She was a valued member of the National Children’s Orchestra and later the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

At eighteen Steph went to study at the Royal College of Music in London and when Raven formed she was already an established freelancer, performing with the likes of Take That, Mcfly, Pink, Leona Lewis, Michael Buble and Dizzee Rascal and travelling all over the world performing with other ensembles (boo hisssssss), particularly in the Middle East. Most recently Steph has performed with Katharine Jenkins on her UK arena tour, Florence and the Machine, and acclaimed composer and performer, Nitin Sawhney.

Little known Steph facts: Steph can fix anything. Microphones, music stands, carborettas… you name it, Steph will fix it. Need a necklace untangling? Dropped your mobile in a toilet? Steph’s your woman. She’s more than a pretty face. Steph is the quartet driver. If you have ever seen Raven perform in Dundee, or Land’s End, chances are Steph drove us there. In a mini. A trouper if ever there was one. Steph once sang with Andrea Bocelli on the Alan Titchmarsh show. Steph can take the credit for instigating the career of her famous wee sister Nicola, as Nicola took up the violin in a desperate attempt to keep up with her big sister.

Steph loves: cats – actually the entire animal kingdom, spaghetti carbonara, Michael Jackson, going home to West Kilbride, funny YouTube videos, anything from EAT.

Steph hates: coriander. And diet coke.

Natalie Holt

Natalie studied as a composer at the National Film and Television School before forming Raven. Natalie is a girl of many talents. An accomplished violinist and violist, Natalie began a performance degree at the Royal Academy of Music before deciding to fulfill her potential as a composer. She is now enjoying both writing and playing and so far she has performed in various capacities in venues from India to Hong Kong. As an arranger she has worked on the scores of hugely successful films such as Hannibal Rising and Stardust. Most recently a song Natalie wrote and arranged for Hayley Westenra was recorded at Air Lyndhurst with the prestigious London Metropolitan Orchestra.

Little known Natalie facts: Natalie has a profoundly efficient sense of smell. She can smell everything, all the time. If the whole Raven thing doesn’t work out, she can get a job with the Metropolitan Police in the drug squad. Natalie once pulled a diving board into a swimming pool with her mid-dive in an ill-fated swimming gala race. Natalie was the most adventurous eater on Raven’s trip to Japan. She even ate fermented beans and the sushi the rest of Raven couldn’t eat.

Natalie loves: foreign travel, foreign food (the weirder the better), The Books, going to see her Grandpa, Prêt a Manger chocolate popcorn, Monmouth’s Coffee shop in Convent Garden.

Natalie hates: cotton wool. HATES it.

Kirsty Mangan

Kirsty’s obvious talent for music was spotted at a young age. She started playing the violin at the tender age of 3, and apart from the odd moment of banging the instrument against the wall during difficult practice sessions, has enjoyed great success from early on. Kirsty had won countless competitions by the time she was 12, and at 13 was one of the youngest members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, which she ended up leading at the age of 18 under Sir Simon Rattle (not literally).

After leading the NYO and being the head girl of Chethams School of Music, ever the clever-clogs, Kirsty went on to complete not one but two degrees simultaneously at the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester. After completing her masters at the Royal College of Music, Raven was formed and Kirsty has loved the variety of different repertoire she has performed since graduating.

Little known Kirsty facts: she has double jointed thumbs that can bend 90 degrees backwards. She can fall asleep on any mode of public transport. She has hiked for weeks in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Her longest surviving pet was a zebra finch called Cheekychops.

Kirsty loves: thai curry, the Kentish countryside, putting chocolate in savoury dishes, fruit smoothies and festivals.

Kirsty hates: rude people on the tube, bad breath and ginger.

Rachael Lander

Progeny of classical musicians who divorced and re-married other classical musicians, Rachael never stood a chance. Her destiny was to perform but she has tried to resist it with a plethora of other jobs, the real low point being a dispenser of parking permits at Wandsworth Borough Council. However, Raven reignited Rachael’s passion for the cello and since joining the group she has loved the excitement of travel and performing.

At the age of 14 Rachael started studying as a junior at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she later completed her Bachelor of Music degree. After five years with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Rachael was keen to begin a career as an orchestral musician and played with the Hallé Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra before leaving music college. She has found playing in a quartet a whole new challenge but loves the freedom of being in Raven to tailor their own arrangements – her aim is to put a cello solo in every piece.

Little known Rachael facts: Rachael also works as a fitting model for some high street clothes shops, despite the fact that her arms are 3cm too long for the job. Rachael’s most surreal career moment was miming playing the violin on Stars In Their Eyes, accompanying Edwina Currie pretending to be Edith Piaf.

Rachael loves: chicken and rice of any variety, electric blankets, The Sopranos, ginger beer, toddlers (but she couldn’t eat a whole one), Radiohead.

Rachael hates: lentils, Big Brother, smugness.