Banging the drum for Preludes

A big thank you from the Preludes team to Kat Lloyd, who donated these amazing timps for the children to play. If you have an instrument you can donate, please get in touch with the team at education@bristolensemble.com

Support for Preludes

Preludes is incredibly grateful to the Mark Masons Benevolent Fund for sponsoring the production of over 60 videos to help vulnerable children during the months of lockdown. The videos have been viewed many times by teachers, parents and children and are still being used in schools.

Penny Rawlings and Preludes – National Lottery’s Portraits of the People

We are thrilled to announce that Penny Rawlings, who heads up our award-winning Preludes project, is a National Lottery Champion of the Arts!

Her eye-catching portrait by photographer Chris Floyd is part of an exhibition of 13 ‘Portraits of the People’, being exhibited in eight of the UK’s most iconic art galleries around the UK.

The exhibition shines a light on work undertaken by individuals in the arts sector who are using National Lottery funding to ensure people can continue to be engaged and enriched by the arts, as best they can, during this time.  

British photographer Chris Floyd has captured a series of 13 portraits of people across the UK to bring this story to life. His photographic work has appeared in some of the world’s most highly respected publications including Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Harpers Bazaar, GQ, Esquire and The New York Times.

The exhibition will be on display in National Portrait Gallery, London, IKON Gallery in Birmingham, The Photographers’ Gallery in London and BFI (The British Film Institute). The portraits will also be on display at the BFI Southbank in London, and in galleries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Preludes, the education arm of the Bristol Ensemble, works in areas of Bristol that are experiencing high levels of economic disadvantage and aims to put music at the heart of every child’s education.

Congratulations to the whole Preludes team that has been working with children in schools throughout the pandemic, making music part of their everyday lives. Forced to curtail their activities due to lockdown, the team made 16 videos to send to schools using the music teachers who usually taught them – in some schools they were also able to continue teaching some vulnerable children – in addition to 45 online recitals with freelance Bristol Ensemble players who were in urgent need of work. 

Look out for Penny talking about the team’s amazing work in Bristol schools on BBC Points West later today.

Barber’s Adagio – In memoriam

Bristol Ensemble players have recorded Barber’s iconic Adagio in lockdown, with the separate recordings assembled through the wonders of technology into a beautiful ensemble performance. Watch the video on YouTube

Preludes Jazz Project with Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation

A few pictures from our half term jazz project which took place from 28 to 31 October, led by our Preludes team Dylan, Dan, Penny and Charlie, with talented young musicians from Lawrence Weston in Bristol, in association with Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation.

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 Jazz Project with Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation

Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation is helping children from disadvantaged areas to find their musical voices

Ronnie Scott's Charitable Foundation

Thanks to a grant received recently from the Ronnie Scott’s Charitable Foundation, the Preludes Project, which provides music training to primary school children living in disadvantaged communities in Bristol, will be able to provide a four day music intensive for 30 children living in the Lawrence Weston area.

Much of the work that Preludes carries out in Lawrence Weston has been in brass instrument teaching – the Project has also been running a successful after school Brass Club for the past 3 years at Long Cross Primary  and the music leaders will give the children the opportunity to develop their musicianship further via a dynamic and intensive four-day jazz-based project culminating in a collaborative performance with a professional band. It will also include children from Y7 and Y8 at Oasis, Brightstowe the secondary school that many of the primary students move on to. 

AIMS 

The aims of the project are:

  • Practical and Creative Musicianship creating original ideas and transforming them into full pieces. 
  • Developing Playing Ability
  • Inspiring Confidence
  • Developing Communication and Co-operation
  • Providing an unforgettable and transformative experience that will last a lifetime

The Project will create opportunities for enhanced community cohesion and provide many possibilities for the future – community jazz bands, collaboration with established musicians and inspiring other Preludes students along the way.

Penny Rawlings, Musical Director of the Preludes Project said, “We are absolutely thrilled that Ronnie Scott’s has enabled us to go ahead with this innovative jazz project. We can’t thank the Foundation enough for the opportunities that they are giving these very deserving children. They are very excited to make a start!”

The Project will take place over 4 days from the 28th – 31st October 2019

“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

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

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

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.

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

Simon Jones

Laura Tanner

Helen Bishop

Claire Wadsworth

Sally Bartholomew

Stephanie Gilbert

Kim Keeble

Simon Howes

Matthew Bale

Marian Givens

Marian Givens is a freelance violinist and teacher, playing with a variety of ensembles such as The Bristol Ensemble, Orchestra of the Swan and La Folia. In 2015 she spent 7 months in Valencia with the opera house Palau de les Arts, under the direction of Zubin Mehta and Lorin Maazel.
She also works regularly in the West End and with pop acts such as Emeli Sande.

She also teaches at The Pilgrims’ School, Winchester and Salisbury Cathedral Schools.

New season on sale at St George’s Bristol

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