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:

Bristol Ensemble in spectacular finale to the Harbour Festival

Our trustee Jerry Cowhig was interviewed at the press launch of the Harbour Festival about the Bristol Ensemble’s unique contribution to what the Bristol Post describes as an “unforgettable experience” as the Bristol Ensemble performs Handel’s Water Music in “an incredible live music performance on board a flotilla of boats, which will travel from the SS Great Britain along the Harbourside to the Lloyds Amphitheatre and Museum Square.”

The performance will take place at 5.30pm on Sunday 23 July in a spectacular finale ending with flares and confetti cannon accompanying the music. Earlier in the day, children from the Bristol Ensemble’s award-winning Preludes project will perform at the BBC Bristol stage at the SS Great Britain, as part of a project about Handel’s Water Music.

Floating anniversary performance of Handel’s Water Music

The dramatic performance will mark the 300th anniversary of the first legendary performance of the famous piece. In July 1717, the premiere was given in front of the King and his court aboard a flotilla of boats on the River Thames, so it is fitting that this recreation will take place on the water beside one of Bristol’s most exciting historic landmarks: Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Brunel was a great fan of Handel’s music, and requested that ‘See the Conqu’ring Hero Comes’ from Judas Maccabaeus was performed at an underwater party held inside his new Thames Tunnel during its construction in the 1820s; Brunel later had the same piece performed at an event marking the completion of the Royal Albert Bridge, Plymouth.

Bristol’s 300th anniversary performance of Handel’s Water Music is possible thanks to public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Earlier on Sunday 23 July, children from local primary schools involved with ‘Preludes’ music project will perform a new composition on the SS Great Britain and BBC Radio Bristol stage in Brunel Square. They will work with ‘Preludes’ teachers and musicians from the Bristol Ensemble, taking inspiration from Handel’s Water Music before premiering their Bristol Harbour Festival performance.

Roger Huckle, Artistic Director for the Bristol Ensemble, will direct both performances. He said: “This will be a fantastic event, echoing the first performance of the Water Music which took place on the Thames. Our flotilla will set sail from the SS Great Britain, voyaging along the harbourside to the amphitheatre and Museum Square, entertaining the crowds with this wonderful, centuries-old music. It promises to be a wonderful highlight of Bristol Harbour Festival.”

As an established partner of Bristol Harbour Festival, providing free family entertainment in Brunel Square over the last five years with BBC Radio Bristol, the SS Great Britain Trust sees this dramatic evening performance as a further opportunity to celebrate UK maritime cultural heritage.

Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of the SS Great Britain Trust, commented: “The Trust is delighted to be joining with the Bristol Ensemble to put on an ambitious performance on the harbour and celebrate the 300th anniversary almost to the day of the first rendition of this famous piece. We are always keen to support Bristol Harbour Festival, so taking the grand finale to the water to be enjoyed by as many Bristol families as possible is guaranteed to be a memorable moment.”

More information on the performance including details of the flotilla route and timings will be available at bristolharbourfestival.co.uk.

We’re looking for a new Chairman

Click here for a PDF version of this announcement

Bristol Ensemble’s board of trustees is seeking to appoint a new Chairperson in the first quarter of 2017 following the retirement of the current Chairman.

Bristol Ensemble, established in 1994 by violinist Roger Huckle, is the city’s only professional orchestra, and is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. It gives around 50 concerts a year, ranging from a small chamber group to a large orchestra, with a repertoire stretching from the 17th century through to premieres of new commissions.

The orchestra’s plans for the next five years are exciting and challenging, and it is well placed to continue to build on its position at the forefront of classical music in Bristol.

The essential requirements we are seeking in a new Chairman include:

  • Fully engaged and committed to the long term development of the organisation
  • Well connected and influential in Bristol. Needs to live in or near Bristol
  • Committed to putting in the time for board and other necessary internal & external
    meetings (the board meets quarterly and there is a monthly Executive Committee
    meeting)
  • A regular concert goer
  • Be an effective ambassador for the organisation and all aspects of its work
  • Inspire the board and all those associated with the organisation
  • A visionary and good completer/finisher
  • Have good leadership skills and able to delegate effectively.

If you are interested in finding out more about this voluntary role, please contact the Treasurer, Andrew Gustar, by email at info@bristolensemble.com.

We are seeking submissions of interest by the 1st December. Interested candidates should provide a letter outlining their suitability for the role and what particular skills and interest they could bring to the ensemble. Candidates will be invited to meet the Artistic Director and two members of the board at an agreed date where they will have the opportunity to discuss the role in more detail.

Welcome to Be More Musical!

All 4 Music has changed its name to Be More Musical. It even has a fancy new logo!

Don’t worry though, we will still be putting on exciting music workshops with our fantastic tutors. Billy Elliot, A Capella Jazz, the ever popular Scratch Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac and a new Recorder project are all ready to be explored, just follow this link to the Be More Musical website.

Preludes News – Patsy Wood Trust Award

Patsy Wood Trust

The Patsy Wood Trust has supported Bristol Ensemble’s Preludes Project for the last 5 years having first invited us to apply after they heard about the Project’s overarching vision: to transform the lives of children who live in disadvantaged communities, by putting classical music at the heart of their education.

This chimed with one of the trust’s central objectives – to support training and education, music and the creative arts. The Patsy Wood Trust is a major supporter of the Preludes programme, and not only financially. Trustees are in close and regular contact, attend sessions in schools, concerts in the community and are on hand to offer advice and encouragement when needed.

We are therefore delighted to announce that the Trust has agreed to continue to sponsor the work of Preludes for a further 3 years with a grant totalling £60,000. Thank you Patsy Wood Trust for your interest and support. You have been a major contributor to the project’s success!

Preludes children in action at St George’s Bristol

Watch some of the Preludes children in action at St George’s earlier in the week in this report from Made In Bristol TV. Skip to 4m 50s, after the robots!

https://www.madeinbristol.tv/player/?playercat=80307&vid=u86bhi6k

Stunning virtuosity from Andrei Gavrilov & Bristol Ensemble

Bristol Ensemble’s second collaboration with the Russian pianist produced a concert of stunning virtuosity.  Andrei Gavrilov and Roger Huckle encouraged an informal atmosphere, encouraging applause between movements, moving around the performance area and speaking about the works.  The audience responded enthusiastically with a standing ovation at the end.

Children from Bristol Ensemble’s award-winning Preludes education project sat in on part of the rehearsal earlier in the day and were blown away by it. They were given the opportunity to perform themselves, entertaining audience members with a pre-concert event in the foyer performance space.

Photography by JonCraig.co.uk

A great review of Thursday’s concert

Thanks to 365Bristol.com for reviewing Thursday’s concert. You can read the review here.

Review of concert on 23 June 2016 by 365bristol.com

Andrei Gavrilov and Bristol Ensemble rehearsal images gallery

Bristol Ensemble rehearsing with virtuoso pianist Andrei Gavrilov at Colston Hall ahead of their collaboration on 23 June. Photographs by JonCraig.co.uk
@JonCraig_Photos