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Alison Stephens

Alison Stephens

Alison Stephens was arguably the leading exponent of the classical mandolin in the UK. She was the first graduate of mandolin from Trinity College of Music, London, and was appointed as a teacher upon graduation and Honorary Fellow on her death. Alison played across the UK and toured extensively across the Far and Middle East, Australia, South Africa, across Europe and in USA.

Alison Stephens gave her first public performance in a concerto at the Barbican Hall aged 17 and became the first person to graduate in the mandolin from Trinity College of Music, London. Appointed by the college to teach the instrument immediately on graduation, she went on to play with leading orchestras and ensembles, opera and ballet companies - and as a regular session musician. Her film credits included The Queen, The Golden Compass and The Fantastic Mr Fox.

But it was Captain Corelli's Mandolin that really established the mandolin as a mainstream instrument. After the film's release, it found such a following that a two-year tour of a stage show based on Louis de Bernières's book, in which Alison Stephens performed alongside the actor and producer Mike Maran, was a sell-out. In 10 years they notched up 600 performances in several different countries.

She also wrote music for, and played on, a Radio 4 dramatisation of Captain Corelli and gave poetry and music recitals with the guitarist Craig Ogden and Louis de Bernières. With Ogden she recorded Music from the Novels of Louis de Bernières, which became Chandos's fastest-ever selling classical CD.

In 2008 she was diagnosed with cervical cancer three months after her performing partner Mike Maran was diagnosed with bowel cancer. They supported each other through months of treatment at Addenbrooke's hospital, Cambridge, and established Captain Corelli's Cambridge Cancer Club - which aimed to raise £100,000 for Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, Macmillan Cancer and the KIS Endowment Fund, an Edinburgh-based bowel cancer research project. Alison donated to Macmillan the royalties of her CD, Souvenirs, recorded with Craig Ogden.