Firebird was founded in 1988 a an ensemble dedicated to the performance of new works alongside established repertoire of the past century. Within this context the ensemble has tackled a variety of projects and themes without allegiance to specific schools or styles of composition. Firebird’s debut season featured programmes for 11 piece ensemble in York and Edinburgh attracting positive critical response from the national press. Other early highlights include well reviewed performances at several editions of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, a BBC invitation concert featuring old and new Viennese music (broadcast in April 1997) and in October 1999 an open workshop/concert event for the SPNM. Strongly committed to the encouragement of young composers, Firebird has also been in residence at the University of Huddersfield every season since 1991, performing solo and ensemble music by composers of the University in workshops and concert.
Many of Firebird’s players have outstanding reputations as individual performers. Among those who have appeared regularly are soprano Alison Wells, violinist Mieko Kanno, violists Bridget Carey and Catherine Musker, cellist Zoe Martlew, flautist John Barrow, oboist Christopher Redgate, clarinettist Roger Heaton, percussionists Christopher Bradley, Damien Harron and Julian Warburton, and pianists Ian Buckle and Peter Lawson.
The group is not to be confused with the similarly-named Firebird Ensemble based in Boston, Mass.