The Berkeley Ensemble takes its name from two British composers of the last hundred years, father and son Sir Lennox and Michael Berkeley. It was formed in 2008 by members of Southbank Sinfonia, Britain’s young professional orchestra, with the aim of exploring the wealth of little-known twentieth- and twenty-first century British chamber music alongside more established repertoire. It now enjoys a busy concert schedule performing throughout the UK and abroad, and is also much in demand for its inspiring work in education.
Finalists in the 2009 Royal Over-Seas League competition and selected by Making Music for the Concert Promoters’ Network in 2010 and 2013, the ensemble has performed with leading musicians including Sir Thomas Allen, Richard Sisson and Gabriel Prokofiev. The group is an enthusiastic champion of new music and has worked with composers John Casken and Robin Holloway. It was proud to premier its first commission, Michael Berkeley’s Clarion Call and Gallop, in 2013.
The ensemble is rapidly building a reputation for innovative and thought-provoking programming, aided by its flexible configuration and regular collaboration with leading young guest artists. Equally at home on the summer festival circuit as in the concert hall, the group has performed at the Latitude and Greenbelt festivals. In 2012 the opening concert of Stealing, Borrowing, Remembering, its series exploring the links between composers Igor Stravinsky and Lennox Berkeley, was awarded a four-star review in The Independent.
Taking its music to new audiences, most importantly through education, 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 runs an annual residential chamber music course in Somerset.