Hailed by The Strad as “an instinctive collective”, the Berkeley Ensemble takes its name from two modern British composers, father and son Sir Lennox and Michael Berkeley. It was formed in 2008 with the aim of exploring the wealth of twentieth and twenty-first century British chamber music alongside more established repertoire.
It now enjoys a busy schedule performing throughout the UK and abroad, and is much in demand for its inspiring work in education.
The ensemble’s flexible configuration and collaborative spirit have led to performances with leading musicians including Sir Thomas Allen, Richard Sisson, Gabriel Prokofiev and Nicholas Daniel. The group enthusiastically champions new music and has worked with composers John Casken and Robin Holloway. It was proud to premiere its first commission, Michael Berkeley’s Clarion Call and Gallop , in 2013 and featured the piece on its debut recording. Released in March 2014, the album was praised by Gramophone for “the vibrancy of the Berkeley Ensemble’s performance even compared with Dennis Brain and friends”.
The ensemble has a reputation for innovative and thought-provoking programming and in spring 2014 received official recognition with a Help Musicians UK Emerging Excellence award.
Taking its music to new audiences is central to the ensemble’s activities. Its work in this area includes self-directed projects in addition to collaborations with Southbank Sinfonia, Merton Music Foundation and Pan Concerts for Children. The ensemble regularly coaches students in chamber performance at the University of York, is ensemble-in-residence at Queen Elizabeth School in Cumbria and Ibstock Place School in London, and runs an annual residential chamber music course in Somerset.
oboe, English horn: Katie Bennington | clarinet: John Slack
bass clarinet, clarinet: Jonathan Parkin | bassoon: Andrew Watson
violin: Sophie Mather | cello: Gemma Wareham