The #CultureFlashSale is on now with discounted tickets for four of our concerts at St George’s Bristol over the next few weeks!

The sale ends at 10am on Friday 28 January so grab yourself a ticket now.

Romantic Rhapsody – 14 February

Vaughan Williams and the English Tradition – 25 March

Handel’s Messiah with City of Bristol Choir – 2 April

St John Passion with Choir of Royal Holloway – 9 April

A new direction for the Bristol Ensemble

After more than 25 years as Artistic Director of the Bristol Ensemble violinist and founder, Roger Huckle, is taking charge in his new role as CEO.  Roger will oversee the strategy and financial security of the organisation, whilst continuing to have a regular presence on stage.  The role of Artistic Director will be taken over by Simon Kodurand, a violinist and member of the Ensemble since 2011.  Simon is keen to continue the fantastic work Roger has curated:

We are fortunate to have in Bristol a hugely successful and versatile ensemble, with a dedicated education team, and I plan to build on the excellent work Roger and the BE has provided for Bristol and the surrounding areas over the years. Our goal for 2022 and beyond is to build on our collaborations with arts organisations across Bristol to better help the communities in which we serve, whilst still presenting first rate performances.  We have built new relationships with ballet, theatre, and opera companies, and this will allow us to showcase the huge and varied talent that Bristol and the Southwest has to offer.”

Roger Huckle echoes this sentiment:

“The Bristol Ensemble is delighted that Simon Kodurand has joined us as Artistic Director. After 26 years of leading the organisation on all fronts it’s time for new blood, new vision and new energy. The Ensemble has always been embedded in the local community and we now look forward to reigniting and building our work and relationships in the South West as we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19”

Garfield Austin

Garfield Austin began playing the trombone at 12 and, like many classical brass players, was initially immersed in the world of brass bands; as principal of the 70-strong county youth band but also the youngest member of the West of England Champions, Camborne Town.  As one of the senior British brass bands, Camborne recorded recitals for BBC Radio 3 and were Championship Section national finalists.  

Garfield made the move to classical performing and attained his RCM performance diploma under the guidance of the legendary Denis Wick, and went on to study advanced orchestral technique with Ian Bousfield (Principal Trombone, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) and Dudley Bright (Principal Trombone, London Symphony Orchestra).  He freelances extensively as a classical tenor and alto trombonist and has performed with professional ensembles including Chaconne Brass, Bath Philharmonia, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, BSO Brass Ensemble and The Sinfonietta.  Garfield is the Principal Trombone of Bristol Ensemble.

Emily Mullins

Emily has played for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the BBC, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Bristol Ensemble, Orchestra of the Swan and many regional orchestras. She also plays with Bristol Ensemble’s Stephanie Gilbert as part of GEMS flute and harp duo.  

Emily has a BMus from Birmingham University and teaches the harp at schools including Millfield, Clifton College, Kingswood, RHSB and Downside. She has also developed story telling workshops for primary schools and outreach concerts for care homes.

Emil Huckle-Kleve

Hugh Blogg

Hugh Blogg’s musical development began in Watford where he was introduced to a wealth of musical experiences at a young age. He has especially fond memories of playing in numerous orchestras which helped to cultivate a team-spirited approach to performance. The happy combination of study at Watford Grammar School for Boys and the Royal Academy of Music, Junior Dept, led to the decision to read music at the University of Leeds where he continued to relish various roles of responsibility. Particular highlights include performing Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 with the LUUMS Chamber Orchestra, conducting the LUUMS Symphony Orchestra for two years, and playing with LS2, a contemporary music ensemble. During an Erasmus Exchange year at the Conservatoire de Region de Strasbourg Hugh enjoyed working with a diverse range of chamber groups, which ignited a passion for music-making on a smaller scale.

Hugh’s growing enthusiasm for chamber music was realised in the form of the string quartet whilst studying for a Masters at the RNCM. He was initially introduced to quartet playing through informal chamber music socials and rapidly became enamoured with the genre’s spontaneous dynamic. Through quartet coaching, rehearsal and performance he relishes exploring and learning about music in a wonderfully enriching environment – with the goal of continually crafting a living, evolving interpretation. In performance Hugh hopes to share his sense of excitement, wonder, and sometimes bewilderment, towards a form of musical expression that can have such a profound impact on one’s life.

As a freelance violinist Hugh has particularly enjoyed working with the Bristol Ensemble, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata under Gabor Takacs and Ensemble Deva.

John Telfer

John Telfer took a degree in Music/Theatre at York University, then trained as an actor for two years at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, to which he has frequently returned over the years to teach, direct, and musically direct students.

He joined Richard Cottrell’s Bristol Old Vic Company straight from Theatre School, where he spent, initially, 5 happy years in a variety of plays.

Favourite shows have included a magical Midsummer Night’s Dream, also seen at the London Old Vic, and Amadeus at Chester, playing Salieri.

The 80’s were generally a time of touring- including Orwell’s England for The Royal National Theatre- and television work. He was one of the Actor/Presenters on ITV’s children’s shows Let’s Pretend, and played DC Pettit in 4 series of the much loved Bergerac

TV appearances since then have included roles in Without Motive, Casualty, Licence To Live and Skins.

Recently  he has been touring playing Johnny Cradockand Philip Larkin.

He has narrated for The Brodsky String Quartet and also for the Bristol Ensemble  and made literally dozens of radio broadcasts in plays and short stories, and Poetry Please.

Audio books are another enthusiasm, recently completing all 50 of Leslie Charteris’ Saint catalogue; Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin was placed 9th in the Telegraph’s 20 best Audiobooks of all Time.

He is also Alan Franks, the vicar in The Archers.

He has written musical scores for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, The Bristol Old Vic, The Mermaid Theatre, Birmingham Rep, The Royal National Theatre, the Cambridge Theatre and The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, for which he and Clive Hayward wrote four pantomimes. He has also composed music for numerous Radio 4 dramas and for BBC2’s Everyman programme When Did You Last See Your Father?, ITV’s Let’s Pretend, the theme tunes for Ozzie The Owl and West Foot Forward (ITV), and was the arranger/musical director for three musical documentaries, Loose Gags, Songs and Sketches on Radio 4, and Festival Follies and Merman on Radio 2.

John has also composed four musicals: Massacre (with Bill Pryde) based on Marlowe’s Massacre At Paris for York University and the Edinburgh Festival; You’re Not Singing Any More (with Chris Bond) about a group of football fans, which was showcased at Bristol City Football Club, Checking Out (which features romance and murder across two continents) and Muscles the Musical (both with Alec Reid), which was premiered at The Landor Theatre in London.

His work as a director includes The Follies of Weston Super ‘The Owl and The Pussycat went to See…, Die Fledermaus for Bristol Opera, and the premieres of Eric Wetherell’s A Foreign Field and The Snow Child.

He was producer for The Bristol Gilbert and Sullivan Society for some years and fronted the Bristol Rock band AFGM.

Katrina Kleve

After studying at Guildford School of Acting, Katrina has gone on to perform as an actor and musician in various mediums across the country. 

Katrina’s work includes the Original West End cast of Once: The Musical, the Original West End cast of Mrs Henderson Presents, the West End revival of Brief Encounter and the No.1 UK tour of Cabaret.

She has appeared in various commercials, independent films and television shows, most recently voicing a role in the highly anticipated stop-motion film Salvation Has No Name, filmed at Aardman Animations in Bristol.

Katrina also writes songs as a member of the electro-pop band ‘arroh’ who’s music has been continually supported by the BBC. Katrina is also part of the song-writing team for a brand new Netflix series.

She has a lot to thank her father Roger Huckle and the members of the Bristol Ensemble for, for bringing endless music and joy to her life. She loves performing with them whenever she can, both as a singer and narrator on the stage and the small screen!

Amelia Goodall

Amelia Goodall studied violin and chamber music at the RNCM with Christopher Rowland, and at Manchester University with soloist Leland Chen. After beginning her freelance career in London, she moved to France to study classical and romantic music on historical instruments.  Following this Amelia performed in many of the great concert halls in Paris and across Europe with François-Xavier Roth’s chamber orchestra Les Siècles. 

She was introduced to the Parisian tango music scene and took a course with bandoneonist Juan José Mosalini.

Since returning to the UK, Amelia moved to Bristol to raise a family and has particularly enjoyed performing with the Bristol Ensemble, in the Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival and with Tango Calor.

More recently, she set up Lunchtime Live, a concert series in which she has performed as soloist and chamber musician.

Amelia is also a music therapist and keen music educator, specialising in the early years.  She started up the string department at the Cathedral Primary School in Bristol, where she introduced Kodály musicianship classes into the music curriculum and piloted whole class violin lessons.

Harriet Wiltshire

Harriet studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she received a Distinction in performance on both baroque and modern cellos.

With her chamber ensemble, The Burney Players, she won several awards, including in the Van Wassanaer competition and a Deutsche Bank Pyramid award. The group was ensemble in residence at the Handel House Museum.

Harriet was principal cellist with the Southbank Sinfonia with whom she performed Walton’s Cello Concerto (conducted by Edward Gardner), gave the first public performance of a new work for solo cello by James MacMillan and chamber concerts at the Wigmore hall. 

She plays with many of the London-based period instrument ensembles and modern orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, as well as artists such as Paloma Faith, Florence and the Machine and Father John Misty.

She teaches the cello at Wells Cathedral School and Millfield.

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. 


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!


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

Simon Jones

Simon has performed with numerous orchestras including Birmingham Bach Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, English Symphony Orchestra, London Gala Orchestra, Longborough Festival Opera Orchestra, the Moscow City Ballet Orchestra, and RTE Concert Orchestra.

Commercially, Simon has toured and made recordings for Royal Shakespeare Company, Paul Young, The Divine Comedy, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Johnny Mathis, and Barry Manilow. His recording credits include League of Gentleman and Shooting Fish. Simon teaches at Wells Cathedral School, Hazlegrove Preparatory School, and coaches regularly for National Children’s Orchestra, National Children’s Wind Orchestra, National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain, Gloucester Academy of Music and South West Youth Wind Sinfonia.