FOLLOWING a sell-out opening concert of the ESO's Brahms Cycle earlier this month, the orchestra is welcoming violinist Philippe Graffin to Malvern for the first time.

Philippe joins the orchestra for the second concert of the series at Malvern Theatres tonight (Friday) at 7.30pm.

The programme includes three of Brahms's major works, the Tragic Overture, Op81, Violin Concerto in D, Op37 and Symphony No2 in D, Op73.

Philippe Graffin was born at Romilly-sur-Seine and studied violin in Marseille and later the Paris Conservatoire, graduating with a first prize at the age of 16.

He later studied in the United States with Professor Josef Gingold; other teachers have included Miriam Freud and the Russian violinist Philipp Hirschhorn.

In 1987 he was Laureate of the Fritz Kreisler Competition in Austria. During a gala concert on Eurovision, he caught the attention of Lord Menu-hin, who invited him to make his first recording, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, under his baton.

Since then he has appeared throughout Europe and played with the continent's leading orchestras.

With the Nash Ensemble of London, he gave the UK premiere of David Matthews' 2nd Violin Concerto, written especially for him.

He has released recordings of the Ysae violin sonatas and Chausson's complete chamber music, and most recently Hyperion has issued two new recordings of Saint-Sans's music.

Coming up are a third Saint-Sans disc, a record of rare French concertos and recitals of Bruno Walter and Carl Goldmark.

There is a pre-concert talk at 6.45pm by the ESO's principal cellist, Peter Adams, on Brahms and the Cello. It is free to concert ticket holders.

Tickets are from £6 to £22 from 01684 892277.