Thank you to everyone who supported our Big Give Christmas Campaign 2016. This is how your generosity has helped Ensemble Cymru’s work so far.
2017 is a significant year for Ensemble Cymru (EC) as it celebrates 15 years of championing chamber music. The following report highlights concerts and activities undertaken between January and May 2017, including two Wales-wide tours, international engagements, work with primary schools and young musicians, performances in hospitals alongside collaborations with new organisations such as Alzheimer’s Society Wales; all designed to bring people closer to Chamber Music.
Overview of Season Tours: 1-15 February and 3-14 May 2017
In February and May 2017 EC performed a total of 18 main season concerts in 9 different venues across Wales, from the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead to Chapter Arts in Cardiff. From its very inception, EC has been committed to bringing Chamber Music performance of the highest calibre to the heart of Welsh communities. EC has continued to build on its national touring circuit, having recently added Aberystwth’s Arts Centre as a regular venue, and were thrilled to have performed its very first concert at The Great Hall, Swansea on 13 May 2017.
Collaboration is at the heart of how Ensemble Cymru works and in particular it’s creative output. For the May season tour, EC’s newly appointed Principal Harpist – Anne Denholm worked with Artistic Director and Principal Clarinettist Peryn Clement-Evans to curate the programme. According to Denholm: “Our goal was to show a variety of instrumental combinations featuring the harp, and to create programmes that are diverse, entertaining, and sometimes challenging”.
This innovative approach to programming is a key feature of EC’s approach to music making. It aims to combine much-loved works from the traditional canon alongside modern classical music. It is indicative of EC’s desire for experimentation, to introduce audiences
to new works and contemporary compositions especially those by Welsh composers, and its continued ambition to push the boundaries of chamber music in Wales.
For an insight in to this creative approach, you can read an interview with Anne Denholm here.
International – Switzerland and China
For many years EC has been working to build international connections, in order to promote Wales’ musical and cultural heritage on the World stage, and 2017 has seen some exciting developments. In a continuation of EC’s previous work in Switzerland, the chamber group was invited to perform on the final day of the 11th Welsh Alpine Championships in Champéry on 27 January 2017.
The following month, Ensemble Cymru also took part in a week-long Welsh Government trade and cultural mission to China, where they joined an eclectic mix of colleagues from BBC NOW, Hijinx Theatre, National Theatre of Wales and Theatr Genenedlaethol Cymru.
EC’s ambition is to continue to build a model of international cultural exchange, and to create opportunities for performers and composers in Wales worldwide and in doing so generate an interest in Wales’ rich musical heritage and contemporary culture.
Community and Outreach
Ensemble Cymru performs outside of the concert hall and takes Chamber music directly to those who would otherwise not get to experience it. On the 4 February 2017 and 6 May 2017, during our two main season concert tours, Ensemble Cymru musicians performed for patients and their families at Llandudno Hospital.
As a part of ‘Dementia Awareness Week’, Ensemble Cymru joined forces with the Alzheimer’s Society to perform a free concert in advance of the main season concert at Aberystwyth Art Centre, where the public where also given the opportunity to seek information about Alzheimer’s, Dementia and other related illnesses from representatives of Alzheimer’s Society Wales.
Ensemble Cymru believes that music can play a powerful palliative role in the care of those who are suffering from all forms of illness and we are looking forward to developing our work with hospitals, care homes, as well as further collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Society.
Ensemble Cymru’s Chamber Academy and Education Work
Alongside Community and outreach events, Ensemble Cymru works closely with primary schools in order to take Chamber Music in to the class room and provide additional support for Music education in Wales. As part of our February and May tours, Ensemble Cymru musicians worked with pupils at Ysgol y Garnedd (Bangor), Ysgol Pendalar (Caernarfon) and Ysgol Hafod Lon (Penrhyndeudraeth).
2017 also saw EC’s first ever ‘Chamber Academy’ in Aberystwyth. In partnership with Ceredigion Music Service, pupils from Penglais and Penweddig school participated in in a workshop with award-winning violinist and long standing Ensemble Cymru member, Florence Cooke, and flautist Georgiana Hughes, followed by a live public performance at the Arts Centre, before EC’s main concert on 12 February.
EC has already established a Chamber Academy in Caernarfon and have plans to work in partnership with Swansea Music to bring a Chamber Academy to The Great Hall, Swansea during the 2017-18 season.
The Chamber Academy aims to nurture and inspire the next generation of chamber musicians and music practitioners in Wales by giving them the opportunity to work alongside some of the country’s leading chamber musicians.
You can view a short film documenting EC’s first Chamber Academy in Aberystwyth below.
15 year Anniversary Celebrations
On 17 May, Ensemble Cymru hosted a very special 15 year anniversary event, sponsored by Sian Gwenllian AM at the historic Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay (Highlights from the evening can be found here.)
It was an evening that celebrated the accomplishments of the North based chamber music group since it’s foundation in 2001 but also set out EC’s vision for the future of Chamber Music in Wales. The opening months of 2017 has been significant for EC’s future trajectory. As the above report demonstrates, it has seen a growth in audience numbers and concert locations, new international connections, a continuation of education and community based projects as well as the beginnings of new collaborations and partnerships. EC has also seen organisational developments in marketing and fundraising as EC looks to create a robust financial framework and extend reach.
The money raised by taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2016 – a total sum of £11,225 – has been integral to the success of EC’s work over the past few months.
From everyone at Ensemble Cymru, musicians and staff, we would like to thank the Big Give, Wales Match Fund and all our donors, for their continued support and generosity.