Each year our Adopt a Composer project sets leisure-time choirs, orchestras and ensembles up with composers for a year to produce a new piece together. Meet this year's pairings.
Chloe Knibbs and Ex Urbe
Chloe is a Birmingham-based composer inspired by city life, folk tales and personal experiences. Included in the British Music Collection, Chloe is currently supported by the PRS Women Make Music Fund.
Her music explores feminist and social issues and has been performed in venues across the UK including Stratford Town Hall, Birmingham New Street Station and the Royal Northern College of Music and various festivals including Birmingham Weekender, Dartington International Summer School and Festival and Orkney Arts Festival. Chloe is also a passionate community musician and is currently working on projects with Welsh National Opera, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and Friction Arts.
Ex Urbe aims to explore, and help its audiences explore, choral music. Founded in 1995, this West Midlands-based chamber choir has 24 members committed to high quality performance.
Aiming to include a work by a living composer in each of its concerts, the choir’s diverse repertoire includes everything from Vivaldi’s Gloria, to lesser known a capella works such as Debussy’s ‘Trois Chanson de Charles D’Orléans’ and Herbert Howells’ Requiem. Into the mix, musical director Ben Hamilton brings his own infectious energy, underpinned by a wealth of knowledge and expertise.
James Banner and Two Rivers Concert Band
James studied at Birmingham Conservatoire, Conservatoire de Paris and the Jazz Institut Berlin, where he completed his Master of Music, receiving mentorship from Greg Cohen and John Hollenbeck. His work as a jazz and improvised music performer means collaboration is at the forefront of his approach to music making.
He is composer in residence for Make The Paint Dance, Tutor at Leeds College of Music and workshop leader for Jazzlines Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham. As a composer he received the UdK/Hanns Eisler Elsa-Neumann Scholarship for his ambitious anthropological choral project Voices of Berlin, and has received a studio award from the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe for his ensemble USINE.
A community wind band based in Ilkley West Yorkshire, Two Rivers Concert Band has over 50 members, ranging in age from 16 to well over 70 and welcomes musicians of all standards. The band’s director is trumpeter and music educator Mike O’Farrell. Last year the band performed in local churches, museums and parks and alongside sister group, Swing Band, raising over £2,300 for charity.
The band rehearses weekly and plays a wide variety of music from Baroque to modern, some challenging and some more popular music.
Laura Snowden and the Chandos Chamber Choir
Laura is a guitarist, composer and songwriter, whose compositions have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland and Hong Kong Radio 4. She has received commissions from the International Guitar Foundation, VIDA Quartet and the Park Lane Group. Her song Live Free was performed in 300 simultaneous concerts in 60 countries for the charity Voices for Hospices, and she has appeared as a songwriter/performer with her folk ensemble Tir Eolas at Shakespeare’s Globe, invited by John Williams.
Recent projects include writing for the ABRSM guitar syllabus, and a commission from theorbo player Matt Wadsworth for Birmingham Symphony Hall.
The Chandos Chamber Choir performs a broad repertoire from early to modern music. Founded in 1985, the choir is an auditioned amateur choir of about 30 voices.
The choir performs at least three times a year both within London and further afield. Repertoire is wide ranging, covering both sacred and secular music from the sixteenth century to the present day. The choir is equally comfortable performing a cappella or with keyboard, chamber-ensemble or orchestra.
About every two years, the choir makes a weekend visit to a British cathedral to perform at their services. Recently visits have been to Cork, Winchester, Lincoln, and Bristol cathedrals.
Nathan James Dearden and Swansea Philharmonic Choir
Nathan is a composer and conductor, whose music has been commissioned, performed, featured and workshopped by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tippett Quartet, Genesis Sixteen, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, National Youth Orchestra of Wales, the Heath Quartet, Grand Band, the Fidelio Trio, CHROMA ensemble, and Carla Rees and the Dunedin Consort. His music regularly features in concerts across the UK and overseas, including at the Cheltenham Music Festival, Dartington International Summer School and Festival, International Young Composers’ Meeting and Vale of Glamorgan Festival of Music.
Nathan is currently a performance manager, visiting tutor in music composition, conductor of the New Voices Consort and New Music Collective and postgraduate research scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Swansea Philharmonic Choir’s aim is to ‘raise the standard of choral singing in Wales and perform less familiar music as well as choral classics’. The group has a hundred singers and enjoys performing a wide repertoire, from Baroque to 21st century music.
Swansea Phil is twinned with Mannheim and has occasionally combined with the Mannheim Bach Choir, memorably performing Britten’s War Requiem. The choir typically performs three concerts a year, raising money for local charities. Swansea Phil is always keen to introduce new works into its repertoire. Members particularly enjoy performing the works of British composers such as Vaughan Williams, Britten and Elgar, as well as introducing audiences to works by Daniel Jones, Alan Hoddinott, and Karl Jenkins.
Nicholas Olsen with Da Capo Alba
Nick is a Welsh composer who recently graduated with a first class honours degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, studying with Gordon McPherson and Stuart MacRae. On graduating, Nicholas was awarded the Principal’s Prize for All Round Excellence in the School of Music.
Nicholas has worked with a number of internationally renowned ensembles and conductors including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Ensemble Modern, and Red Note Ensemble. Nicholas has also worked with a variety of lesiure-time ensembles including choruses, junior choruses and brass bands.
Da Capo Alba is the adult orchestral section of the Lanarkshire Guitar and Mandolin Association, and is currently Scotland’s largest guitar and mandolin orchestra.
Membership comprises around 40 members who play mandolin, mandola, guitar and bass, with occasional use of other instruments. Members are varied in musical background, with players having experience in classical, folk and rock music.
Da Capo Alba performs in concerts throughout Scotland and abroad, usually about five times a year. The orchestra has won a range of awards over the last four years, including trophies for orchestra, ensemble, duets and individual performances. The orchestra has released two CDs featuring music from film, original mandolin repertoire and arrangements of pop music.
Robert Laidlow and Southampton Concert Wind Band
Robert is a classical composer based in London whose compositions have been performed across the UK, US, and South America. His music incorporates his background as a jazz saxophonist, and is often inspired by scientific phenomena.
Robert’s work has been performed in concert and workshop by groups including Ensemble Modern, Milwaukee Symphony and Ballet, the Britten Sinfonia, Psappha, the Berkeley Ensemble, and the Hermes Experiment. Recent commissions include a piano quintet for the Campos do Jordao International Festival, a duet for the Doors Open Festival, Milwaukee, and a work for solo singing violist, Katherine Clarke.
Southampton Concert Wind Band is a thriving organisation, playing an active part in the leisure-time musical community, having shared the concert stage with a variety of local ensembles, ranging from wind bands to brass bands and choirs.
As well as regular concert and bandstand appearances, the band has, in recent times, participated in wind band festivals, achieving Platinum Awards three years in succession. The band has also accompanied guest soloists of international renown, giving audiences wonderful performances and musicians experiences to treasure.
Guided by Director of Music Calum Gray, the band has a broad repertoire and high standards, giving energy, and inspiring challenges and high attainment.