“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:

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.