Preludes: bubbles and videos for the new term

When the country went into lockdown in March, and most children were unable to go to school, our Preludes team continued to work with some schools that remained open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Now that all children have returned to school for the new term, Preludes is ready to continue providing regular music education to over 2,000 children across ten Bristol schools.

We have been working closely with the schools to understand their new Covid-secure arrangements, and to agree how we can work with them safely and effectively within their “bubbles”. The schools each have slightly different approaches, and our tutors, who are used to working across several schools, are having to work in new ways. But we relish a challenge!

This week we have started to return to some schools, and more will follow over the next few weeks.

We have had to change a few things, but have designed a programme of activities which is still of great quality but also keeps the tutors and children safe. We can still do some singing and playing of instruments, but will also be doing more of the quieter activities, such as composing, telling stories with music, and learning about composers. We are delighted to have recently been given some money by the National Mark Masons to record more videos, which we have been using to support and supplement face-to-face teaching in some schools.

The last few months have been stressful and disruptive for many children, and it is great – for them and us – to be able to start getting back to some normality. Preludes has proven time and again that its benefits go way beyond simply learning music. This quote, from one of the teachers at a school where we provided video tuition during lockdown, is one of many…

“During Lockdown, the support Preludes gave our children with high quality, well thought about and planned music lesson weekly videos, were invaluable to our children and families – not only providing them with fun, happy, immersive lessons to join in at home with, but making a positive impact on the continuity of their education, within this very disruptive time for them.”

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

An exciting Shirehampton centenary

On Wednesday 15th December 1920, 99 years ago, you could have paid four pence to go along to Shirehampton Public Hall for a concert of the Avonmouth and Shirehampton Choral Society. Also among the performers that night, alongside the young singer (and later actress) Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, and teenage local cellist Helen Just (who would go on to have a distinguished teaching career at the Royal College of Music) was violinist Marie Hall, already a well-known star.

Marie Hall was a protegée of Philip Napier Miles, squire of nearby Kings Weston and himself a talented amateur musician. Napier Miles was a good friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who had come along to the concert for the first ever performance of his new work The Lark Ascending, in a version for piano and violin, which he had dedicated to Marie Hall.

Also on the programme that evening were Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, a selection of songs (including a newly written one by Napier Miles himself), Bach’s concerto for two violins, and some choral works by Hubert Parry.

We don’t know how the concert went – there are no accounts or reviews. No doubt the audience of 200 were appreciative, but perhaps didn’t realise the significance of the event until the orchestral premiere took place the following year and The Lark Ascending became an instant success. It remains one of Britain’s most popular and best loved pieces of music.

We have booked Shirehampton Public Hall for 15th December 2020, to celebrate the centenary of this concert. The plans are not quite finalised, but there will certainly be a performance of The Lark Ascending by a star violinist, and we certainly won’t have kept the original ticket price! Watch this space for further details over the coming months.

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.

Specialist Baroque Ensemble to premiere in November

The Bristol Ensemble unveils its new baroque specialist ensemble for the first time, under the directorship of Adrian Chandler, in a concert at St George’s Bristol on 13th November.

Adrian is one of the leading interpreters of Italian baroque music and founded the renowned ensemble La Serenissima. He takes over the leadership of Bristol Ensemble Baroque in what will be a vibrant, energetic and thoroughly engaging performance exploring some well-known and less familiar composers of the Baroque period.

Of course, Bristol Ensemble has always featured baroque works in its programmes, but this concert will be performed on period instruments by baroque specialists, creating a more authentically 18th-century sound which reveals these works in a new light. Baroque instruments are generally quieter than their modern counterparts, and there are subtle differences in the design and materials. Baroque violins, for example, use gut strings rather than metal, which give a more mellow sound. Baroque wind instruments have fewer (if any) keys, with fingers used to cover the holes. Baroque pitch is about a semitone lower than modern pitch, and techniques such as vibrato, commonly used by modern singers and string players, rarely appear in authentic baroque music.

The launch of Bristol Ensemble Baroque is partly due to the fact that there are now so many fine baroque players in the Bristol area. Hopefully it will become a regular part of our concert schedule in future.

Listen to Adrian Chandler playing Autumn from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with La Serenissima

Click here for concert details.

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

Preludes announced as Treefest Charity

We are delighted that Preludes has been chosen as the charity for this year’s Treefest festival at St Mary Redcliffe church in Bristol.

Treefest is a spectacular festive display of Christmas trees held in the Gothic splendour of St Mary Redcliffe. Local charities, schools, businesses and other organisations can enter a Christmas tree and decorate it in a style of their choosing, giving them a great opportunity to tell local people about their services, causes or activities – and to raise money for good causes. There’s also a varied musical programme and a chance for visitors to vote for their favourite tree.

Treefest has become increasingly successful over the last five years, attracting thousands of visitors and helping to raise valuable funds for local charities.  This year the event will support St Mary Redcliffe’s work in the community and Bristol Ensemble’s education project Preludes, which has been transforming music education in the city for the past ten years.

This year’s festival runs from 3rd-7th December. On Thursday 5th December, from about 5pm onwards, why not come along and join some of the Preludes team and children for “Come and Sing Carols” around the tree, plus a “Come and Try an Instrument” session.

We look forward to seeing you there!

“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

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.

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

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

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.

Award from Arts Council England

We are very grateful to Arts Council England for their award towards our ‘Classics Reinvented’ concerts and masterclasses in Bristol and London with the inspirational soloists Gilles Apap and Andrei Gavrilov this Spring.

Gilles Apap and Andrei Gavrilov were chosen for their unique performance style and ability to engage with audiences. The concert series is taking place on 18 May at the Cadogan Hall in London, and in Bristol’s Colston Hall on 19 May and 23 June, combining concerts with integrated education elements at all levels.

The concerts and masterclasses will further develop reputation for delivering artistic excellence and widening our audience reach.

The award gives us the opportunity to offer education elements alongside the concerts, including masterclasses, pre-concert talks and a concert platform experience for children under 11.

 

Award for Preludes

 

st georges award

The St George’s Prize for Music is given in recognition and celebration of groups or individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to music making within their local community.

We are delighted that the ‘Bristol Ensemble Preludes Team’ is the first group to receive the St George’s Prize for Music.

‘Preludes’ is a bold and innovative music project that has been running successfully for four years in two primary schools in South Bristol (Ilminster Avenue E-Act Academy and Merchants Academy). Its aim is to put classical music at the heart of every child’s education and by doing so improve confidence, co-ordination, speech and language and benefit all other areas of their learning. ‘Preludes’ is delivered by a growing team of dedicated professionals. It is managed and led by Penny Rawlings assisted by Charlie Groves and Helen Stanley.

We are very grateful to everyone at St George’s Bristol for recognising the project in this way.

Congratulations!

abrsm

These are children from Ilminster Avenue who are the first Preludes children to take ABRSM exams.

We handed out their certificates in assembly and really impressed everyone! Three took the silver music medal and three took the copper.

Composer’s notes on TreeSong

Ahead of the world premiere of William Goodchild’s TreeSong, an 18 minute, 3 movement work based on the audio recorded at the tree in early October, here is the composer’s note about the piece. The concert takes place in St George’s Bristol on Sunday at 4pm:

“Inspiration and source material for this work came from the TreeSong installation on Durdham Downs at the beginning of October, in which movements of and within a beech tree were translated into electronic sounds and simultaneously broadcast, across a period of four days. The sounds generated by the tree were recorded and a selection of these was passed on to me, after the installation had finished.

The tones I heard when visiting the installation, and later received as audio files, were extraordinary, from sustained and slowly evolving pitches to gong-like effects, to unpredictable gritty percussive hits and rasping melodies. It was a remarkable and varied sound world, archaic, mysterious and quite new to my ears.

The first stage was to choose and organise the electronic materials into a shape that would become the basis for the work you are hearing today. What eventually evolved was a three-movement piece for a chamber orchestra consisting of Flute/ Alto Flute, Oboe, Clarinet/ Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, French Horn, Percussion (Tubular Bells, Suspended Cymbal, Tam-Tam, and Bass Drum), Harp and Strings, and Electronics, from the tree installation.

The first movement, Canopy, has an ethereal quality. We explore the upper reaches of the tree and the delicate and intricate movements of leaves and branches in relation to the elements of sunlight, breeze and wind. Insects, birds and small mammals moving in and around the tree can be imagined.

Movement two, Roots, explores a dark and unfamiliar underworld. We can imagine the tree’s strong and unseen foundation penetrating earth and wrapping around rock. This movement explores dark sonorities and intense dissonances leading to a powerful and unforgiving climax.

The final movement, Tree of Life, is a lyrical and rhythmic celebration of the tree. During the first two movements, elements of a traditional folk song melody are seeded (excuse the pun!). In movement 3, embedded in the texture, we eventually hear the folksong, The Trees They Do Grow High, played complete. I wanted TreeSong to connect musically with something historic and lasting. This beautiful tune, with its hint of joy and melancholy, does just that.

In the piece’s introduction, during Canopy, and between Roots and Tree of Life, you will hear some of the electronics captured at the tree. These form a necessary ingredient that connects the work with its origin and inspiration, the beech tree on Durdham Downs.”