The London Sinfonietta is one of today’s elite contemporary music ensembles. Its mission is to place the best contemporary music at the heart of today’s culture, engaging and challenging the public through inspiring performances of the highest standard, and taking risks to develop new work and talent. The ensemble is Resident Orchestra at Southbank Centre, and continues to take the best contemporary music to venues and festivals across the UK and worldwide with a busy touring schedule. Since its inaugural concert in 1968 the London Sinfonietta’s commitment to making new music has seen it commission over 300 works, and premiere many hundreds more. The core of the London Sinfonietta is 18 Principal Players, representing some of the best solo and ensemble musicians in the world. The ensemble has recently launched its Emerging Artists Programme, which will give professional musicians at the start of promising and brilliant careers the opportunity to work alongside those Principal Players. The London Sinfonietta’s recordings present a catalogue of 20th-century classics, on numerous prestigious labels. Their participation in the London Ear over past years is a symbol of their support for the festival and its aims, and we are certain that their appearance at this year’s festival will represent a major attraction to the audience.
Hilary Summers was born in South Wales. She studied at Reading University, the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera studio. She has recorded over forty CDs spanning works from the early baroque to the present day and has sung in most of the major concert halls and opera houses of the world. Hilary worked closely with the iconic composer and conductor Pierre Boulez from 2004. With the Ensemble Intercontemporain, they recorded his masterwork Le marteau sans maître, for which she won a Grammy, and performed the piece worldwide. She also performed Le visage nuptial, Stravinsky’s Les Noces and Ligeti’s Aventures and Aventures nouvelles under his baton. Her three-octave range has excited the attention of many composers. She has sung in numerous world premières including George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill at the Bastille, Paris; Elliot Carter’s What Next at the Staatsoper, Berlin; Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra in Los Angeles; Peter Eotvos’ Le Balcon at the Aix Festival and Facing Goya and War Work by Michael Nyman.
Neo Quartet, from Poland, focuses on performing contemporary classical music. The members are also all great enthusiasts of contemporary art, therefore they often combine contemporary classical music with visual arts, modern dance, and electronics. The quartet’s main aim is to collaborate with contemporary composers and to make their music familiar to a wider audience. Their repertoire includes compositions by Reich, Crumb, Schnittke and Penderecki, to name but a few, and they have given premieres of many works by younger Polish composers. In 2009, NeoQuartet participated in the Gaudeamus International Competition in Amsterdam, when they reached the Semi-Final, and were named as one of the ten best contemporary music ensembles of that edition. In 2008, they made a recording of the Quartet by Stulgińska.which was released by DUX, and nominated for the Fryderyk Award in the Contemporary Music Category. In 2010 they recorded their debut album, also released on DUX. The album was nominated for the Sztorm Roku Award, the Pomeran Artistic Award, and the Fryderyk Award (Polish Grammy Award). In 2014, NeoQuartet recorded three CD albums with music of Dosia, Aleksander Kościów and Joanna Bruzdowicz. In 2012 NeoQuartet founded the annual NeoArte Festival, named the ‘New Music Spectrum’. The main idea is to popularise contemporary classical music among a wide range of audiences, and incorporates workshops for composers, for contemporary improvisation, and for children.
Roberto Fabbriciani (flute). Original interpreter and versatile artist, Roberto Fabbriciani has innovated flute technique, multiplying through personal research the instrument’s sonorous possibilities. He has collaborated with some of the major composers of our time: Berio, Boulez, Cage, Carter, Donatoni, Ferneyhough, Kurtág, Ligeti, Messiaen, Nono, Rihm, Scelsi, Sciarrino, Stockhausen, Takemitsu and numerous others, many of whom have dedicated important works that he performed at their premieres. He worked for many years with Luigi Nono, in the experimental studio of the SWF in Freiburg, blazing new and unusual trails in music. Fabbriciani has played as soloist with the conductors Abbado, Berio, Chailly, Eötvös, Michael, Klee, Jurowsky, Maderna, Masson, Muti, Sinopoli, Zagrosek, and with orchestras including Orchestra della Scala di Milano, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestre della Rai, London Sinfonietta, LSO, WDR of Cologne, SWF Baden-Baden, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Bayerischer Rundfunks, Münchener Philharmoniker. He has performed at numerous prestigious theatres and musical institutions: La Scala in Milan, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Festival Hall in London, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, and Carnegie Hall in New York and has frequently participated in nearlt all the imortant contemporary music festivals. He has recorded several albums and has been professor of master classes at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Ensemble ö! is from Switzerland, a country already rich in outstanding ensembles, the seven-piece, mixed instrumental Ensemble ö! was founded in 2002 by violinist David Sontòn Caflisch. The ensemble has distinguished itself in the field of contemporary chamber music by their sensitivity in performance and originality in programming, which often includes new works composed especially for them, often of exceptional technical and musical difficulty. The players come for a variety of Swiss cities, including Lucerne, Basel, Bern and Chur, where they have a regular concert season. The members often perform solo or duo works in the ensemble’s concerts, alongside pieces for the full group. From 2010 to 2012, Ensemble ö! had a partnership with the Fondation Nestlé pour l’art, within which they realised the series Moment-Monument Grischun, which continues to exist long after the end of the partnership. This series organizes concerts on architecture and music, in which special constructions from different epochs are selected, and are used in specially designed programmes. The project includes both music and architectural science.
UMS ‘n JIP are a Swiss contemporary music duo, consisting of Ulrike Mayer-Spohn (UMS) on recorders & electronics and Javier Hagen (JIP), voice & electronics. They work as performers, composers and organizers within a global network of composers, visual artists, stage directors, researchers, universities and festivals. Their special interest in long term collaboration, with its exchange of knowledge and awareness, brings context to new creations and results in an outstanding increase of artistic content. In this manner, UMS ‘n JIP explore new settings for voice, recorders and electronics, ranging from live to digital performance in concert, scenic or installation formats, and often integrate European and non-European music. UMS `n JIP have been invited to perform at prestigious contemporary music festivals around the world including Zürich, Lucerne, Donaueschingen, Stuttgart, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul, Moscow, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and New York. They have premiered hundreds of works, collaborating with both world famous and aspiring young composers such as Heiner Goebbels, Wolfgang Rihm, Mauricio Kagel, Jennifer Walshe, and many others. They can look back on more than 900 concerts since their debut in 2007. They have received numerous commissions and awards and have been invited to share their knowledge in renowned universities in Europe, America and Asia.
Tomoko Akasaka (viola), from Japan, now recognised internationally as a leading performer on the instrument, is also the dedicatee of a work by Toshio Hosokawa, one of London Ear 2018’s featured composers. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician worldwide. As a soloist she has appeared with the Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Muenchener Kammerorchester, the Filarmonica banatul timisoara, the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble Contrechamps and the Japan Chamber orchestra under the baton of conductors like Seiji Ozawa, Heiichiro Oyama, Rüdiger Bohn, Gheorghe Costin, Olivier Cuendet and Günther Herbig. She has recently given a widely acclaimed series of recitals in Japan, Switzerland, France, Italy, and Germany amongst others. The series of recitals in Tokyo has been broadcasted by NHK-TV. Her chamber music partners included Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Hope, Heinz Holliger, Menahem Pressler, and numerous other distinguished perforems , at international music festivals such as Lockenhaus Festival, Saito-Kinen Festival, Olivier Messien Festival, Pablo Casals Festival, Luzern Festival, Zagreb Chamber music festival, Kronberg “Chamber Music Connects the World”, Festival Amadeus, San Francisco Musical days, Schubertiade and others. Tomoko Akasaka has performed at concert venues including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Geneva Victoria Hall and Grand Théâtre, Konzerthaus and Philharmonie Berlin, Schloss Elmau, Suntory Hall and Schloss Nymphenburg Munich. Her collaboration with the composer György Kurtág has had a profound influence on her work as a musician.
Helsinki Chamber Choir was founded in 1962 as the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and assumed its current name in 2005. It is currently Finland’s only professional chamber choir. Since 2007 Nils Schweckendiek has been responsible for the group’s artistic planning. While its wide-ranging repertoire includes music from the Renaissance to the present day, the Helsinki Chamber Choir is particularly highly regarded for its work with new music. They regularly commissions new works and have given over 50 world premieres since 2005. The choir appears frequently at major Finnish music festivals, and collaborates with orchestras and Baroque or contemporary music ensembles. Recent touring has included concerts in Russia, Estonia and Belgium. Their concerts are regularly broadcast on radio and television, both nationally and internationally, and their recording of Magnus Lindberg’s Graffiti (with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo) was nominated for a Grammy in the contemporary music category in 2010. The choir’s most recent appearance on CD includes the world premiere recording of Veli-Matti Puumala’s opera Anna Liisa. The famous composer Jonathan Harvey commented “They are probably the best choir anywhere in the world, particularly for contemporary music.”
Ensemble Via Nova is based in Weimar, Germany. The group is built around a core group of the five ‘Pierrot ensemble’ players (fl cl vn/va vc pf) plus an accordionist. They are mostly very young musicians, in their 20s, and have a particular interest in performing works by less well known composers, many from the region of Thuringia, but also from other regions and countries. Ensemble Via Nova was formed in 2016, but have already established an enviable reputation, which has led to their planned tours to Italy in 2017 and to S Korea in 2018. In addition to their performances in concerts and festivals the ensemble has also been active in the performance of finalists’ works in international composers’ competitions. Significantly, this group includes an outstanding accordionist: an instrument widely used by composers in Germany and beyond, but seldom heard in Britain.
Jonathan Powell is one of a small group of British pianists, all now in their forties, who have distinguished themselves internationally as performers of music of exceptional difficulty and complexity. Jonathan Powell, not only has an extraordinary technique, but also an astonishingly wide repertoire, including many works from the Baltic and Slavic countries. He enjoys an international career as a soloist, his programmes ranging from standard Classical and Romantic repertoire to contemporary and little-known 20th century works. He has performed widely in Europe, Russia and the US as well as performing on national radio in many countries, and has recorded about 20 CDs. Powell has worked with several of today’s prominent composers, in particular Claudio Ambrosini and Michael Finnissy; he has also commissioned many new works from the younger generation.
Uroboros Ensemble was formed in 1982, bringing together some of Britain’s most accomplished and best-known instrumentalists specialising in new music. The ensemble’s concerts may include from three to eighteen players. They have performed extensively throughout Britain and abroad, has appeared in many international festivals, and made many recordings for radio, television and CDs. The Ensemble’s primary commitment is to cultivating internationalism in music, allowing audiences around the world to embrace music and ideas from beyond their national boundaries. Several distinguished composers have written pieces specially for Uroboros Ensemble, and they have given numerous world and national premières, including works by Lutoslawski, Firsova, Finnissy, Ichiyanagi, Wuorinen, Stäbler, Zapf, Ambrosini, Woolrich and many others. As well as commissioning new works Uroboros Ensemble is committed to giving further performances of contemporary pieces that have been unduly neglected, and to promoting performances in Britain by other musicians sharing similar artistic concerns. ‘Guests’ have included The Basel Soloists, Modern Ensemble from Korea, and numerous performers at London Ear since 2013.