Tickets: £8/£4 (under-18s)
An interactive concert for the whole family! Get to know the instruments of the orchestra and let the music inspire your imaginations to create an exciting new story. Set the scene, create your characters and take them on an adventure with your very own live soundtrack.
The Berkeley Ensemble will be joined by the animateur Neil Valentine who will guide us on our musical adventure.
Approximate finish time 12 noon.
About the artists
Neil Valentine is a creative musician, workshop leader and string specialist who delivers creative, fun and inclusive music making. Working with schools, in community settings and with arts organisations he designs and delivers exciting, fun and relevant music making projects across the country. He combines his skills as a professional orchestral player and chamber musician, broad understanding of most western (and some non-western) instruments as well as his experience as a conductor with creative, communication and musical skills to bring all kinds of instrumental and vocal music alive with the participants.
Neil specialises in 're-imagining' existing classical repertoire for today. He passionately believes that classical music is relevant and exciting, and is committed to breaking down any barriers which are apparent when one thinks of classical music, whether in the concert hall or in expectations of the audience member or participants. Neil identifies key melodies, themes, chords, or storylines from a particular classical work, and together with the group explores these themes and ideas and how they are relevant to us all today. He then works together with the group to create their own version of the music, through composing or improvising new parts, adapting or creating melodies and harmonies, developing structure and orchestral as well as writing poetry or lyrics which can be turned into songs. All these elements are then rehearsed and culminate in a world premiere performance of the 're-imagined' work.
Neil is also a very experienced string teacher and coach. He trained as a viola player but has taught violin, cello and viola as well as coaching ensembles and orchestras throughout his career. His ability as a communicator and his understanding and experience as an orchestral player and conductor gives him a great understanding of how to get the best out of orchestral and ensemble playing. He specialises in running coaching sessions with whole orchestras, string sections or individual instrument sections, but is especially fond of Viola sectionals!
Hailed as ‘an instinctive collective’ (The Strad) the Berkeley Ensemble was formed with the aim of exploring the wealth of little-known twentieth and twenty-first century British chamber music alongside more established repertoire. It enjoys a busy concert schedule performing throughout the UK and abroad, and is also much in demand for its inspiring work in education.
The ensemble’s flexible configuration and collaborative spirit has led to performances with leading musicians including Sir Thomas Allen, Richard Sisson, Gabriel Prokofiev and Nicholas Daniel. The group enthusiastically champions new music and has worked with composers John Casken and Robin Holloway. It was proud to premiere its first commission, Michael Berkeley’s Clarion Call and Gallop, in 2013 and featured the piece on its debut recording. Released in March 2014, the album was praised by Gramophone for ‘the vibrancy of the Berkeley Ensemble’s performance even compared with Dennis Brain and friends in [the Ferguson Octet’s] first recording.’
The ensemble is rapidly building a reputation for innovative and thought-provoking programming and in spring 2014 received official recognition with a Help Musicians UK Emerging Excellence award. Equally at home on the summer festival circuit and in the concert hall, the group has performed at the Latitude and Greenbelt festivals.
Taking its music to new audiences, most importantly through education work, is central to the ensemble’s activities. Its work in this area includes self-directed projects in addition to collaborations with Southbank Sinfonia, Merton Music Foundation and Pan Concerts for Children. The ensemble regularly coaches students in chamber performance at the University of York, is ensemble-in-residence at Queen Elizabeth School in Cumbria and Ibstock Place School in London and runs an annual residential chamber music course in Somerset