Specialist Baroque Ensemble to premiere in November

The Bristol Ensemble unveils its new baroque specialist ensemble for the first time, under the directorship of Adrian Chandler, in a concert at St George’s Bristol on 13th November.

Adrian is one of the leading interpreters of Italian baroque music and founded the renowned ensemble La Serenissima. He takes over the leadership of Bristol Ensemble Baroque in what will be a vibrant, energetic and thoroughly engaging performance exploring some well-known and less familiar composers of the Baroque period.

Of course, Bristol Ensemble has always featured baroque works in its programmes, but this concert will be performed on period instruments by baroque specialists, creating a more authentically 18th-century sound which reveals these works in a new light. Baroque instruments are generally quieter than their modern counterparts, and there are subtle differences in the design and materials. Baroque violins, for example, use gut strings rather than metal, which give a more mellow sound. Baroque wind instruments have fewer (if any) keys, with fingers used to cover the holes. Baroque pitch is about a semitone lower than modern pitch, and techniques such as vibrato, commonly used by modern singers and string players, rarely appear in authentic baroque music.

The launch of Bristol Ensemble Baroque is partly due to the fact that there are now so many fine baroque players in the Bristol area. Hopefully it will become a regular part of our concert schedule in future.

Listen to Adrian Chandler playing Autumn from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with La Serenissima

Click here for concert details.

Preludes with Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson and John Lenehan performed The Pied Piper by Jonathan Dove at St George’s Bristol, ably assisted by recorder-playing rats from Oasis Long Cross School.

Long Cross is one of the schools participating in the Preludes project. The children were very excited and overwhelmed to be performing with such prestigious musicians.

The parents who came along were incredibly proud of their children, and were introduced to classical music concerts in a concert hall for the first time.

Preludes announced as Treefest Charity

We are delighted that Preludes has been chosen as the charity for this year’s Treefest festival at St Mary Redcliffe church in Bristol.

Treefest is a spectacular festive display of Christmas trees held in the Gothic splendour of St Mary Redcliffe. Local charities, schools, businesses and other organisations can enter a Christmas tree and decorate it in a style of their choosing, giving them a great opportunity to tell local people about their services, causes or activities – and to raise money for good causes. There’s also a varied musical programme and a chance for visitors to vote for their favourite tree.

Treefest has become increasingly successful over the last five years, attracting thousands of visitors and helping to raise valuable funds for local charities.  This year the event will support St Mary Redcliffe’s work in the community and Bristol Ensemble’s education project Preludes, which has been transforming music education in the city for the past ten years.

This year’s festival runs from 3rd-7th December. On Thursday 5th December, from about 5pm onwards, why not come along and join some of the Preludes team and children for “Come and Sing Carols” around the tree, plus a “Come and Try an Instrument” session.

We look forward to seeing you there!

“A performance of power, intensity and great commitment” at the Three Choirs Festival

A performance of power, intensity and great commitment” – thanks to John Quinn of Seen and Heard International for the enthusastic review of our performance given with the Choir of Merton college at the Three Choirs Festival

Preludes Celebrates 10 years

In 2009 Bristol Ensemble began an educational journey in two schools in South Bristol through the formation of the Preludes Project. It was conceived with an overarching vision: To transform the lives of children who live in disadvantaged communities, by putting classical music at the heart of their education. This inclusive project is unique in its provision of classical music training that is accessible for children of all abilities.

The project has gone from strength to strength over the years, working with many more schools and over 1,400 children. It recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a concert in the glorious surroundings of St Mary Redcliffe Church. The theme was “BRISTOL SEA-PORT CITY – SONGS OF THE SEA”.

The Preludes team after a successful concert!

The schools involved were: Baddocks Woods E-ACT Academy; Bedminster Down; Cheddar Grove; Easton C of E; Greenfield E-ACT Academy; Ilminster Avenue E-ACT Academy; Knowle DGE; Oasis Bankleaze; Oasis Long Cross; Perry Court E-ACT Academy; and Redfield Educate Together

On the programme was a wide selection of music from Classical through to Sea Shanties, performed by voices and instruments including strings, brass, woodwind and percussion and delivered with wonderful professionalism, flair and sheer enjoyment.

One of the added benefits of the project has been the engagement of the children’s families and carers in their learning and performing journey. The church was filled with excited supporters, proud of the children’s extraordinary achievements and eager to hear the results of all their hard work. Also in attendance were long term funders of the project, and several local dignitaries.

The Preludes teaching team, led by Penny Rawlings, works tirelessly throughout the year and on the day provided their usual warm professional encouragement and support.

For more information on Preludes, see our Preludes page.

Einaudi Comments

Rehearsing for the concert at Wiltshire Music Centre
Rehearsing for the Einaudi concert at Wiltshire Music Centre

It is always lovely to get feedback on our concerts from audience members, and last month’s mini-tour (at Wiltshire Music Centre, Christ Church Nailsworth, and St George’s Bristol) of a concert of music by Ludovico Einaudi generated quite a few lovely comments. Thank you!

Here is a selection…

“Just listened to @BristolEnsemble playing Ludovico Einaudi @stgeorgesbris. Such a wonderful, mesmerising experience!”

“Captivating and mesmerising they said – just a bit! What a wonderful evening, like a massage for the brain.”

“Bristol Ensemble plays Ludovico Einaudi concert at St George’s last night was excellent. The beautiful pieces and the images of nature were mesmerising.”

“Absolutely loved it. Selection of the songs was great. Surpassed my expectations.”

“It was a fantastic evening at St George’s. I have seen the Bristol Ensemble many times and Roger Huckle is an excellent leader. I had been given an early insight to the evening as I attended the Einaudi concert at Nailsworth given by Paul Israel and the Bristol Ensemble. That was a particularly moving experience but did not prepare me for what was to come last night. Einaudi’s music is emotional in the extreme and the lighting and images made it more so. Paul Israel is a special talent.”

“What a treat. I won’t forget this evening – I applaud Bristol Ensemble, terrific to watch and so thrilling to listen to. Einaudi music live is a thing of wonder.”

“Outstanding performance by pianist and ensemble. One that will be remembered for some while. Effective use of visual landscape photography to enhance beautiful music.”

“Beautiful rendition of Ludovico’s work”

“Beautiful. More Einaudi please Bristol Ensemble! There was a wonderful atmosphere and it was obvious that everyone was captivated.”

“Bristol Ensemble were a real treat. I love Ludovico Einaudi’s music so know it well , B.E. played it fantastically. My whole evening was great.”

Ilminster Avenue E-ACT Academy awarded Artsmark Gold Award

We are delighted to hear that Ilminster Avenue E-ACT Academy has just been awarded the Artsmark Gold Award by the Arts Council.

This is a fantastic achievement for any school and has come about because of the achievements of our award-winning Preludes project in the school.

Well done to everyone involved in music at Ilminster Avenue!

Bristol Ensemble featured on BBC’s Sea City

BBC Sea Cities

The Bristol Ensemble is featured in the first episode of the new BBC One series Sea City, which followed our 300th anniversary performance of Handel’s Water Music on board the Tower Belle at the 2017 Bristol Harbour Festival.

The performance was made possible thanks to public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Sea City can be seen on BBC iPlayer until 4 March 2018 – click here to view the programme

 

Bristol Ensemble marks the 100th anniversary of Votes For Women

Notes for Women

Today is the centenary of women being granted the vote in Britain. This significant anniversary will be marked by Notes for Women, a year-long celebration of music by women composers by the Bristol Ensemble, Bristol’s professional orchestra.

Although there have been plenty of women composers throughout history, they and their works are little known, despite often being at least as good as those of their more famous male counterparts.  One reason for this is related to the historical role and status of women, the same issue that deprived them of the right to vote.  Following the first World War, and the 1918 Representation of the People Act, there has been a slow shift in the direction of equality, although female composers are still in the minority today.

Throughout 2018 the Bristol Ensemble will celebrate the lives and works of women composers, with the aims of

  • presenting top quality musical works by women composers in order to excite and engage audiences unfamiliar with the quality and range of this repertoire;
  • educating: by telling these women’s stories, and drawing parallels with the wider movements for women’s suffrage;
  • encouraging and inspiring future musicians, by showcasing contemporary music by women composers, and giving them opportunities to compose for themselves; and
  • leaving a legacy of greater interest and awareness of music by women composers among local audiences and performers, plus some resources to facilitate the continued performance of this repertoire.

At the heart of the year’s celebration is a series of three concerts and a lecture at St George’s Bristol, beginning with music by Hildegard of Bingen and music by Baroque and Renaissance composers in April’s ‘Early Years’ concert, and ending with a new commission and film music by women composers in the final concert in November.

The Ensemble will also programme music by female composers in its other concerts in the Henleaze Concert Society series and its chamber series in Nailsworth throughout the year.

For more details, visit Notes For Women

Handel’s Water Music echoes around the Bristol harbourside

The Bristol Ensemble took part in a very special performance of Handel’s Water Music at the Bristol Harbour Festival on Sunday 23 July, echoing the premiere of the work which took place on the Thames on 17 July 1717. We are very grateful to Arts Council England for supporting the project, and to the SS Great Britain and Bristol Harbour Festival for their collaboration in making it possible.

Children from our award-winning Preludes project got things underway with a performance of the compositions they have written as part of our Water Music project:

Later in the afternoon, the flotilla assembled for the finale performance of the Water Music for its 300th anniversary: