WildKat PR would love to announce the return of The Berkeley Ensemble to our roster. The Berkeley Ensemble, a collective of Southbank Sinfonia musicians formed in 2008, have partnered with Resonus Classics to provide an excellent opportunity for composers in Britain. Known for their inspiring performances of British chamber music, their latest competition encourages composers to explore the legacy of the early twentieth-century philanthropist, Walter Willson Cobbett. Cobbett supported the British school of chamber composition, paving the way for Bridge and Turnage to name a few.

The prize of a £500 commission will be awarded to a composer who produces a work that is scored for any combination of instruments drawn from 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano. The composition must be a self-contained movement, that is 8 to 12 minutes in duration. The work must be totally original, having never been performed in public or submitted for another competition.

Up to 16 entrants will be selected to participate in the semi-final masterclass on either 26th October or 9th November. Following this a maximum of 6 works will be performed in front of a panel at the New Cobbett Prize Grand Final at The Forge on Wednesday 10th December 2014. The winners and runners up will have their work recorded for commercial release by the Berkeley Ensemble on the Resonus Classics label in 2015.

As well as the competition, the Berkeley Ensemble will be performing in concerts inspired by Cobbett’s legacy and also supporting a series of composition masterclasses lead by Michael Berkeley and other leading British composers. The details of these concerts are listed below.

Please send entries to Berkeley Ensemble New Cobbett Prize, 36 Durban Road, London SE27 9RP. They must arrive by the 1st September 2014.

To enter the competition you must be 35 or under, a resident in the UK and not currently contracted to a publisher. All entries will be assessed anonymously. For more details and terms of the competition please see the website.

 

Cobbett’s Legacy I: In the shadow of Brahms

16 September 2014- 7:30pm- The Forge.

Tickets £12 (£10)

 

Cobbett’s Legacy II: Towards an English music

26 October 2014- 11:00am2:00pm- The Forge

Tickets £12 (£10) (to include tea/coffee)

 

Composition masterclass: 2pm – 5pm

Free entry to the masterclass with a ticket to the morning concert.

£3 entry for masterclass only

 

Cobbett’s Legacy III: Modern Britain

9 November 2014- 11:00am-2:00pm- The Forge

Tickets £12 (£10) (to include tea/coffee)

 

Composition masterclass: 2pm – 5pm

Free entry to the masterclass with a ticket to the morning concert.

£3 entry for masterclass only

 

New Cobbett Prize Grand Final

10 December 2014- The Forge

 

Louise Mather

Louise Mather

 

 

 

(Written on August 22, 2014 )

WildKat artist and composer Nimrod Borenstein is looking forward to an exciting and diverse concert season 2014/15. Having already had his compositions performed by the likes of Marie Cantagrill and The Philharmonia Orchestra, Nimrod’s reputation as a world class composer continues to flourish.

After commencing the concert season in September with a performance of “Poème” opus 64 for violin solo and string orchestra in France, October 2014 brings the exciting world premiere of “Breeze” opus 65 for wind quintet. The composition is due to be performed on 2 October by the highly accomplished Galliard Ensemble, for whom it has been specially written in celebration of their 20th anniversary.

Nimrod’s second world premiere of the season is due to be performed on 23 October. The exciting and alternative orchestra Camerata Alma Viva have commissioned Symphony for Strings opus 68 to be performed at St John’s Smith Square in London. The ethos of the orchestra differs substantially from the traditional orchestra: “It is a strong belief of the group that music is a very natural thing that anyone, trained or not, should be able to approach and enjoy. The Camerata Alma Viva is constantly working on breaking the barriers of the traditional concert, by playing the pieces in different settings, sometime playing from around, behind or even within the audience, singing or improvising during the concerts, encouraging spontaneous audiences reactions like clapping anytime they feel, creating original compositions to link different pieces together, adding poetry, light effects.” The unconventional manner of both composer and orchestra will make for an exciting and groundbreaking collaboration.

Winter brings more exciting collaborations, starting with English cellist Jonathan Bloxham who will perform the UK premiere of Cello Concerto opus 56b on 20 November 2014. Nimrod’s final concerts of 2014 are three separate performances of The Big Bang and Creation of the Universe opus 52 in Cyprus. Performing the composition is the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra under conductor Sivan Albo Ben-Hur, each on 3, 4 and 5 of December at various well renowned musical venues in Cyprus: the Markideion Theatre in Paphos, the Rialto Theatre in Limassol and the Pallas Theatre in Nicosia.

Finally, in what will be his first collaboration of 2015 Nimrod has composed a piece for the Gandini Juggling Company. The Juggling Company will perform the piece 4×4 which is to be accompanied by a world premiere of Nimrod’s Suspended Opus 69 and will take place in  the Linbury Studio  Theatre of the Royal Opera House as part of London’s International Mime Festival. The London International Mime Festival this year was described by the Londonist as a “true celebration of the unusual, the visual and the sublime” Plays to See described it as “London’s theatrical event of the year”. This festival is therefore an extremely prominent and exciting platform for Nimrod’s work and accommodates a fantastic collaboration between composer and theatrical company. The Trailer for the Gandini Juggling Company’s performance can be viewed here.

For more information about Nimrod’s upcoming event and projects, visit his website, facebook and twitter.

Nimrod Borenstein (Photo by Synced Films)

 

 

 

 

(Written on August 22, 2014 )

WildKat PR are delighted to welcome composer Richard Birkin as our newest client. As well as a composer, Richard is a producer of specialist and experimental digital projects and often creates unique installations to accompany his works. Richard was recently commissioned by Nottingham City Council to create an interactive audio/visual installation for Light Night 2014, funded by Arts Council EnglandNight Sun involves a toy music box mounted on a wooden plinth. When a passer by touches the music box, the windows light up. When a passer by winds the handle, the music begins and the story unfolds…

Following the success of his installation Night Sun, Richard has developed the technology used in the installation to produce a single of the work, using web coding to animate poetry with music and photography on a laptop or mobile. Richard’s upcoming project Songs for Spoken Words, funded by the Arts Council England/National Lottery Grant for the Arts, continues to build on this technology and will be released in February 2015.

Keep up to date with news from Richard via is Facebook, Twitter and website.

View a preview of Night Sun online here.

richard-birkin-composer

(Written on August 22, 2014 )

Tim Benjamin’s latest opera Madame X will make its world premiere tomorrow in Todmorden at the Hippodrome Theatre. Rehearsals for Madame X have gone brilliantly, and Tim Benjamin’s new opera is featured in Sinfini Music’s classical music highlights for this week.

More news from behind the scenes can be found on the Madame X blog, including information about the cast and interviews with Tim Benjamin. The opera follows a young artist, Masetto, and his lover, Zerlina, as their lives and dreams are manipulated by Masetto’s corrupt agent and wealthy, powerful art collectors.

As Tim explains in The Lancashire Telegraph, it is quite possible that Madame X is the second opera ever to have been performed in Todmorden – the first being his opera Emily in 2013, which won great acclaim.

This photo from the technical rehearsal below shows a mysterious covered painting … but what really lies beneath?

 

WhatLiesBeneath

 

Madame X will also be performed in Halifax, in London as part of the Grimeborn Festival, and in Manchester:

Thursday 21st August at Todmorden Hippodrome (World Premiere)

Friday 22nd – Saturday 23rd August at Square Chapel, Halifax

Monday 25th – Wednesday 27th August at Arcola Theatre, London (London Premiere)

Thursday 25th September at RNCM Opera Theatre, Manchester

You can also view the latest Madame X trailer here!

 

Follow Madame X on Facebook and Twitter, protagonists @MasettoPainter and @Zerlina83 have their own accounts, too!

(Written on August 20, 2014 )

The debate surrounding the future of classical music ranges far and wide, having lead to experimentation with classical music clubnights, donor membership specifically targeted at under 40s and classical concerts given in ex-swimming pools and car parks – all in an attempt to engage new audiences and encourage young people to start attending concerts.  The hope is that, as well as increasing engagement, they might still be attending in forty years time – as well as donating part of their increased salary to an organisation which has provided them with so much enjoyment during their lifetime.

Meanwhile, in the UK in particular, cuts are being made to music provision in schools to the point where many children aren’t being given access to the basic musical education which will give them the hunger to see these live classical events.  It is easy to spend the same amount of money on a ticket to a sporting event or a West End show as on some classical or opera events – so why should anyone take the chance on something which they know little about, and can’t guarantee the same enjoyment?

The concept of merging classical music with technology is relatively new, a major example of which can be seen in the live broadcast of opera and theatre in cinemas and on open-air screens.  These screenings, of productions from the Royal Opera House, Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre and even exhibitions in the British Museum, have proved hugely successful, with audiences citing the quality of filming and sound as reasons for their continued enjoyment. The fact that many of these broadcasts can be seen for free has also created a talking point.  The Berlin Philharmonic launched their Digital Concert Hall a little after the live broadcasts started, bringing one of the world’s best orchestras into your living room – so close you could touch it.  When it was launched, in 2009, there was a lot of discussion about the future of classical music – why then, has there been so little technological innovation within the industry since then?

If the industry doesn’t experiment with new technologies, it risks falling short of what a lot of new audiences are looking for.  This isn’t about radicalising a well-established industry which is still very much alive, it is about keeping the hugely loyal audiences which already exist as well as engaging new people and alternative press in what is increasingly becoming a digital world.  The use of Google Glass, seen in isolation, could be seen as little more than a gimmick, true.  However the product’s use within live classical music over the long term could potentially give an insight into a performer’s experience of the incredible world of live classical music – which musicians a conductor engages with and when, what a soloist sees in that crucial moment when they walk on stage, the fundamental eye contact at the end of a cadenza to lead to a down beat.  The nature of the Google Glass technology means that the images and videos generated from the headset can be shared instantly throughout the world – to an audience of existing classical aficionados as well as those who haven’t yet experienced a live concert, and to those interested in new and pioneering technology.

The industry is lucky to have such forward-thinking platforms in which to experiment with this technology, but why should an industry which has already survived so much change be so adverse to new technology?  The use of Google Glass and other forms of technology within classical music will inspire debate and discussion, as have many other advances in music – including the music itself – throughout history.  Whether for or against, these innovations have got the industry talking, and a worldwide audience will be watching to see where they take us.

(Written on August 18, 2014 )

On Wednesday 6 August, 22 members of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain (NCO) had the privilege of joining forces with the European Union Youth Orchestra at the world-famous Royal Albert Hall.

The lucky musicians were from two of the NCO’s five age-banded Orchestras – Under 12 and Under 13. The repertoire included Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance and Ravel’s Bolero, and after a 90 minute rehearsal, they delivered an amazing performance to family and friends. The children’s infectious enthusiasm and incredible talent wowed the audience.  It was apparent to all listening that for many of these children their musical careers will see them return to perform at the Royal Albert Hall and, indeed, the BBC Proms.

 “It is a musician’s dream to perform at the Royal Albert Hall!” said Nicholas Bacon, violinist with the NCO’s Under 13 Orchestra. “I loved playing alongside brilliant musicians, I learnt so much working in an orchestra of 165 members under a fantastic and inspirational young conductor and to be playing at the Royal Albert Hall – well how can you possibly beat that!”

Elliott Neal, double bassist agreed: “It was a real inspiration to work with young professional players and really showed what we may be able to do in years to come”..

Roger Clarkson, NCO’s Principal Director of Music expressed his gratitude both to Marshall Marcus, CEO of EUYO, for providing this fantastic opportunity, and to the BBC Proms team for their welcome and superb organisation.  “It was heart warming to see a number of familiar faces in EUYO who were Alumni of NCO-GB” he said, “all of whom remember NCO with fondness”.

NCO Chairman, Peter Stark, said: “The influence and impact of this wonderful organisation continues to develop apace. The acclaimed performances of the five national age-banded orchestras astonish, with audience and staff continually remarking on the unbelievable standards achieved. The six regional orchestras and Associate Membership scheme are taking the name of NCO to an ever increasing market place and giving invaluable opportunities to more and more young musicians. No one should be under the misapprehension that this organisation produces performances that sound as though played by children!”

The National Children’s Orchestras provides exceptional orchestral training to musically talented children between the ages of 7 and 14 irrespective of background and financial circumstances.  Its orchestras regularly enthral audiences at some of the finest concert venues in the country, performing repertoire usually confined to adult professional orchestras. NCO’s performances are renowned for their intensity, vivacity and commitment, but above all their professionalism. This summer has seen the NCO’s Under 12 Orchestra perform at Birmingham Town Hall and the Main Orchestra perform at Colston Hall, Bristol; both performances receiving five star reviews in the press. On Saturday 16 August, NCO’s Under 13 Orchestra will take to the stage of Leeds Town Hall to perform a programme that includes Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue.

LEEDS TOWN HALL

NCO performing at Leeds Town Hall

(Written on August 15, 2014 )

WildKat Artist, accordionist Paul Chamberlain has returned from his UK Summer tour. The tour, which has been a huge success, included performances in London, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Bristol and Cardiff, before finally culminating at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his final performance of the tour on 9 August. Paul’s performances on his tour and his latest album ‘Accordion Sensations’ have been met with wide critical acclaim. Paul has been praised by the Sunday Times for “Conjur[ing] up both piano and orchestral parts with fierce fluency and a fully Weberian brilliance in fast excursions” and also by BroadwayBaby who have described his playing as “An enthralling display of musical mastery- humble, charming and informative.” Edinburgh Guide said of Paul “[His] undoubted enthusiasm was engaging and it went towards giving us a treat of a recital” and his performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was particularly well received by Seen and Heard International: “He brought an astonishing breadth of colours and styles to the instrument’s necessarily limited range, but I was especially impressed not only by his quicksilver fingerwork, but also by the way he made the accordion’s rustic wheeze not only jolly but also, by turns, dramatic, threatening or stormy as need be.”

For more information about Paul’s upcoming concerts and events, visit his website, twitter and facebook.

Listen to Paul’s interview with BBC Radio Scotland last month here.

 

 

(Written on August 15, 2014 )

While the extinction of the dinosaurs may have had something to do with a meteor, it is likely that the decline of orchestras is down to just as many debatable factors. From financial climate change, to developments in technology and changes in personal taste, there are numerous elements of change that the industry has little control over.

In the article from today’s Times, Iván Fischer heralds the evolutionary approach for orchestras, as he claims they must ‘adapt or die’. With his own Budapest Festival Orchestra being open to innovation he believes that it is the only way to truly mitigate against the terminal decline of orchestras around the world.

The Budapest Festival Orchestra are trying to bring in different audiences in order to break the white, middle-class, middle-aged, well-educated norm. While this isn’t wholly true in concert halls today, as a lot has already been done to correct the imbalance, it is still a perceived barrier to many. The BFO perform in midnight concerts to appeal to younger audiences, seating them on beanbags and giving them discounts on ticket prices if they turn up on a bike. All are intriguing innovations that could work for many orchestras and concert venues to lure in the younger generations.

However, the question that will be asked is what does this give/take from orchestral concert going. Traditionalists will be harking that it is in fact this kind of innovation that kills orchestras, while the opposing corner will rebut with the same evolutionary, forward-thinking stance that Fischer proposes in this article.

What is clear though is that demands are being placed on orchestras and those who manage them to be more creative, whether it is with their funding or engagement methods. Today also saw the Guardian Culture Professionals Live Chat about crowd-funding, which is being cited as a revolutionary change to fundraising. James Hopkirk, Editor of IdeasTap suggested ‘As arts funding gets cut back further and further and artists have to become more self-sufficient and entrepreneurial I think it’s [crowd-funding] only going to become more prevalent…’. A similar call for change has been echoed by organisations such as Nesta in their report ‘The New Art of Finance – Making Money Work Harder for the Arts’.

Essentially what all of these changes are demanding is that we are more creative, which is surely what the arts do best. It’s a philosophy that WildKat have embraced fully, with enormous success. No one is saying that creative minded people have to go and play with the stock market, or perform brain science to see what attracts people to classical music- just that we are considerate of all demographics, what makes them want to get involved or why they might want to resist, and if this is something we can change.

Rising to the challenges that the arts face is one best met by creative people- luckily our industry is brimming with them.

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(Written on August 13, 2014 )

This weekend WildKat PR fled the city and headed to Cornbury Park, the 800-year-old, 1,700-acre Oxfordshire deer park and setting for Wilderness Festival. The Festival is renowned for its gastronomic delights as much as the eclectic musical line-up, this year featuring headline artists from Burt Bacharach to London Grammar.

Wilderness 2014

Wilderness 2014

This was our third time at Wilderness Festival with three of our clients – both current and upcoming – performing over the course of the weekend. Silent Opera staged their latest production Live/Revive/Lament on Saturday evening on the Wilderness Stage. Silent Opera premiered the full production at Aldeburgh Music this Summer and have since performed at Kensington’s Saatchi Gallery as part of the InTransit Festival. In addition, eccentric cellist Gabi Swallow performed with her urban family at the Wilderness Stage on Friday 8th August 2014. Donned with appropriate festival headpieces and striking make-up, Gabi and her urban family performed a range of contemporary and classical music, which included Vivaldi’s Summer and a little Piazolla.

Gabi Swallow and Her Urban Family

Gabi Swallow and Her Urban Family

Another treat for the WildKat PR team was newcomer Poppy Ackroyd who also took to the Wilderness Stage on Friday afternoon. Despite the rain, a huge crowd assembled on the bales of hay for her set, where she performed her own compositions on the violin and keyboard, accompanied by some unique visuals.

Silent Opera

Silent Opera

The British, bunting-clad, boutique festival was idyllic, and we have carefully stowed our wellington boots and feather headdresses until next year…

 

 

 

 

(Written on August 11, 2014 )

WildKat PR is delighted to welcome Cantate to its roster. Cantate is a mixed-voiced youth choir that have recently returned from the World Choir Games in Latvia as double gold medal winners. The choir, based in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, have achieved international acclaim since being founded by Michael Kibblewhite in 1994, and are currently celebrating their twenty-year anniversary. Cantate now stretches across three choirs and has a reputation for innovative and dynamic musical performances of the highest quality. It remains open for anyone to join without audition at a level that suits them, and embraces Classical, Show and Pop repertoire as well as music from all around the world.

In addition to regular tours to Europe including Bordeaux, Paris, Assisi and Venice, the choirs also perform in their home areas of Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire throughout the season. They have also performed at various prestigious venues in the south of England, including the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, 10 Downing Street and annually at the family carol service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Other accolades including winning gold in the 2008 World Choir games in Austria, winning highest placed English Children’s Choir at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, winning top awards at the National Music Festival for Youth and winning the Mid-Somerset Music Festival. The choir has also featured on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Songs of Praise, and have worked and recorded under conductors such as Sir Andrew Davis and John Rutter.

Cantate offers young people unique musical training. All members are given percussion and rhythm workshops as a crucial part of their education in the choir, starting with simple Samba rhythms and moving to complex presentations of rhythm and movement that are a feature of many of the concerts. Although the main intake for Cantate is for the training choir, which accepts children from aged eight, older students are always welcome to join at a level that reflects their previous experience.

Since 2010 Cantate has been led by Nicholas Shaw and Graham Instrall, who head an inspirational team of pianists, directors and singing teachers. They are proud to have the active support of three honorary patrons: Baroness Genista McIntosh, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.

 

For more information, please visit Cantate’s website and check Cantate’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

 

 

 

Cantate in competition

Cantate performing at the 2014 World Choir Games

(Written on August 8, 2014 )