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
  • 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!


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

New season on sale at St George’s Bristol

Christmas Spectacular

We have some wonderful concerts for everyone to enjoy this Autumn and Christmas from a pair of concerts exploring minimalist music, to special children’s concerts and our entertaining Christmas Spectaculars and Festive Fiesta. If you have friends and family visiting, why not book tickets to one of these concerts and make an evening of it? Concert tickets also make the perfect gift for those hard-to-buy-for loved ones!

Tickets are now on sale from St George’s Bristol box office on 0845 40 24 001 or www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

Minimalists I at St George’s Bristol
Wednesday 19 October at 7.45pm

A concert celebrating Steve Reich’s 80th birthday and his remarkable contribution to contemporary classical music including performances of Clapping Music and City Life.

Tickets £23 (£20), £17 (£15), £12 (£10), £5 under 18s (plus St George’s booking fees) available by phone on 0845 40 24 001, from the box office in person and online at www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

Minimalists II at St George’s Bristol
Wednesday 16 November at 7.45pm

The second in a pair of concerts exploring the music of minimalism, focussing on the works of Arvo Pärt, including the Symphony No.4 ‘Los Angeles’ and Salve Regina.

Tickets £23 (£20), £17 (£15), £12 (£10), £5 under 18s (plus St George’s booking fees) available by phone on 0845 40 24 001, from the box office in person and online at www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

Handel’s Messiah
Wednesday 14 December at 7.45pm
A semi-staged performance with the Choir of Royal Holloway at St George’s Bristol

Tickets £23 (£20), £17 (£15), £12 (£10), £5 under 18s (plus St George’s booking fees) available by phone on 0845 40 24 001, from the box office in person and online at www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

Children’s Christmas Carnivals
Sunday 18 December at 2pm and 4.30pm

Our annual children’s concerts at St George’s Bristol, featuring Blake’s The Snowman.

Tickets £12 for adults, including 1 free child ticket. Additional children‘s tickets £5 each from St George’s Bristol box office on 0845 40 24 001 or www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

Christmas Spectaculars and Festive Fiesta
Tuesday 20 to Thursday 22 December at 7.30pm

St George’s Bristol Christmas Spectacular concerts with Exultate Singers and City of Bristol Choir, and a sing-along Festive Fiesta featuring all your favourite carols.

Tickets from £12 for adults, students £6, under 18s £4 from St George‘s box office on 0845 40 24 001 or online at www.stgeorgesbristol.co.uk

TreeSong live performance

William Goodchild’s TreeSong received its world premiere at St George’s Bristol on Sunday 29 November. The performance of three-movement, 18 minute work based on the audio recorded at the tree in early October was filmed and you can watch it here.