Friday 20 August 2021

Her Ensemble: the UK’s first women and non-binary orchestra makes its concert debut

Her Ensemble (Photo Shane Benson)
Her Ensemble (Photo Shane Benson)

In 2019-2020 only 3.6% of the classical music pieces programmed worldwide were written by women. Last year that figure was just 5% - the highest percentage recorded to date [see my article on the Donne Foundation's recent report], while some of the world’s most renowned orchestras only started admitting female musicians as recently as 2003.

In response to this and to the perceived rigidity of the classical concert format, classically trained violinist and arranger Ellie Consta formed Her Ensemble, the UK’s first women and non-binary orchestra. The group has been performing together since November 2020 (including releasing a debut single, recorded a feature film score for Melt The Fly, and collaborated with Pixie Lott) and now the group makes its concert debut at Battersea Town Hall on 17 September 2021.

The ensemble is formed of like-minded colleagues stemming from the European Union Youth Orchestra, and brings together some of the most in-demand orchestral and chamber musicians in the UK. They will be performing a wide range of music by women, but also making the format of the event closer to a pop concert by allowing drinks, using lighting and interacting with the audience, though having no piece lasting longer than five minutes seems perhaps unnecessarily restricting.

There will be music by Florence Price, Angela Morley, Grażyna Bacewicz, Mari Esabel Valverde, Caroline Shaw, Anna Meredith and Jessie Montgomery, plus arrangements of Hildegard of Bingen, Alma Mahler and Lili Boulanger, with guest appearances from BBC Young Musician string finalist Elodie Chousmer-Howelles, film composer Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres and singer-songwriter Caitlyn Scarlett. 

Full details from the BAC website.

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