Ensemble 360 & Alice Beckwith

Stoller Hall, Manchester
Saturday 23 September 2023, 11.00am / 1.00pm

Tickets from £7.50

Past Event

Part of Manchester Medieval Quarter Festival 2023.

When King Colin’s golden underpants go missing, it’s Sir Scallywag to the rescue! Brave and bold, courageous and true, he’s the perfect knight for the job… even if he is only six years old!  

Original music by our children’s Composer-in-Residence, Paul Rissmann, features instruments including strings, woodwind, and horn, presented together with story-telling and projected illustrations from the best-selling children’s book by Giles Andreae and Korky Paul.   

Performed by the wonderfully dynamic and hugely engaging Ensemble 360 and Alice Beckwith, this concert is a great introduction to live music for children. It’s full of wit, invention, songs and actions, and plenty of opportunities to join in.  

For 3 – 7 year-olds and their families.


Ligeti Quartet

Stoller Hall, Manchester
Thursday 12 October 2023, 7.30pm

U18 & FTE £5.50

Past Event

Anna Meredith has achieved incredible success straddling multiple musical worlds, never compromising her raw, individual style. This concert tour promotes the Ligeti Quartet’s new album, Nuc, providing a survey of Meredith’s career to date, heard through her original works for string quartet. 

Nuc started life as a conversation between Anna Meredith and Richard Jones (Ligeti Quartet’s viola player) after realising that after a decade of frequently working together, they had almost an album’s worth of music. So an idea developed in which they would not only make the first studio recordings of Anna’s original music for string quartet, but that Richard would create new arrangements of existing tracks by Anna including from her award-winning electronic and dance albums.

The result is a joyful, occasionally furious, never too serious, energetic/restful collection of tracks which dazzle with Anna’s signature compulsive harmonies, rhythmic shifts of gear and sparkling textures.
Find out more and join the conversation here.

“One of the most innovative voices in contemporary British music.”


IZZY GIZMO schools concert

Ensemble 360 & Polly Ives

Stoller Hall, Manchester
Friday 3 February 2023, 11.00am / 1.00pm


Past Event

Recommended for Key Stage 1

Approximately 50 minutes with no interval

Music and narration performed by Ensemble 360 and Polly Ives.

Best-selling children’s book Izzy Gizmo (by Pip Jones and illustrated by Sara Ogilvie), tells the enchanting story of an intrepid young inventor who puts her talents to work to rescue a crow that can’t fly.

Izzy’s mechanical marvels and infectious creative spirit are brought to life through storytelling and visuals from the book for a brand-new live performance for children and their families.

With original music by Paul Rissmann the show features 11 instruments including strings, woodwind, horn and piano, and you might even spot the musicians playing pots, pans, whistles and household items! It’s a great introduction to live music for children, full of wit, invention, songs and actions, and plenty of opportunities to join in.

IZZY GIZMO Family Concert

Ensemble 360 & Polly Ives

Stoller Hall, Manchester
Saturday 4 February 2023, 1.30pm

£10 Adults
£5 Under 18s
£15 Family ticket

Past Event

with music and narration by Ensemble 360 & Polly Ives 

Izzy Gizmo is the enchanting story of an intrepid young inventor who puts her talents to work to rescue a crow that can’t fly. Based on Pip Jones’s best-selling children’s book with illustrations by Sara Ogilvie, this interactive family concert brings Izzy’s mechanical marvels and infectious creative spirit to life, with original music by Paul Rissman featuring pots, pans, whistles and household items, as well as orchestral instruments. A great introduction to live music for children from 3-7 years old, full of songs, actions and opportunities to join in.


Ensemble 360

Stoller Hall, Manchester
Saturday 4 February 2023, 7.30pm
Past Event

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS The Lark Ascending (15’)
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Oboe and Strings (19’)
RAVEL Sonatine for piano (12’)
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Piano Quintet in C minor (30’) 

Celebrating the 150th birthday of the celebrated composer who embodies the sound of English music. The evening opens with Vaughan Williams’ most famous work, The Lark Ascending, recently voted No.1 in the Classic FM Hall of Fame for a record 12th time, in its original version for piano and violin. This is followed by his Concerto for Oboe and Strings, the compact Sonatine by the composer’s friend and mentor Maurice Ravel, and the evening concludes with his expansive Quintet. 

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Ralph, The Lark Ascending

Vaughan Williams began The Lark Ascending before the outbreak of the First World War, taking his inspiration from George Meredith’s 1881 poem of the same name. But he set this ‘Romance’ aside during the war and only finished it in 1920. The violinist Marie Hall gave the first performance of the original version for violin and piano in Shirehampton Public Hall (a district of Bristol) on 15 December 1920. Vaughan Williams dedicated the work to her, and she went on to give the premiere of the orchestral version six months later, when it was conducted by the young Adrian Boult at a concert in the Queen’s Hall in London. Free, serene and dream-like, this is idyllic music of rare and fragile beauty.

© Nigel Simeone

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Ralph, Concerto for Oboe and Strings

Rondo pastorale
Minuet and Musette
Finale (Scherzo)

Vaughan Williams started to compose his oboe concerto in 1943, immediately after the Fifth Symphony, and it was completed in 1944. His friend and biographer Michael Kennedy wrote that ‘a discarded scherzo from the symphony was turned into part of the oboe concerto’, and he described it as a ‘satellite work’ to the symphony. It was written for the oboist Léon Goossens and the premiere was planned for the 1944 Proms. That concert was cancelled due to the risk of flying-bombs over London and Goossens gave the first performance in Liverpool on 30 September 1944.

The bucolic first movement – an unconventional rondo – is marked Allegro moderato and it uses both the oboe’s spiky agility and its lyrical capabilities, with short cadenzas near the start and finish. In his book on Vaughan Williams, Frank Howes noted that the Minuet and Musette was ‘wayward in its key scheme’ and described the whole movement as ‘pseudo-classical’ in character. The central ‘Musette’ section is based on drones, played by the oboe. Headed ‘Finale (Scherzo)’, the last movement is predominantly very fast, but perhaps the highlight of the whole Concerto is the slower central section, the soloist musing over richly-harmonised string chords, before a return of the fast material and a quiet, sustained close.

© Nigel Simeone

STANFORD Charles Villiers, 3 Dante Rhapsodies Op.92 No.1 ‘Francesca’

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Ralph, Quintet in C minor for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano

Allegro con fuoco
Fantasia, quasi variazioni

This Quintet in C minor, scored for the same instrumentation as Schubert’s Trout, was composed in 1903 and revised twice before the first performance at the Aeolian Hall on 14 December 1905, but after a performance in 1918 it was withdrawn by Vaughan Williams. It was finally published in an edition by Bernard Benoliel a century after its composition. Vaughan Williams’s friend and biographer Michael Kennedy speaks of ‘the shadow of Brahms looming over’ the work, and this seems especially true of the expansive first movement. The expressive, romantic melody of the Andante second movement is more characteristic of its composer at this stage in his career, and it has some similarity to the song Silent Noon, composed the same year. The finale is a set of five variations, ending with a beautiful bell-like coda.

As Michael Kennedy observes, what matters with an early work such as this is not whether it anticipates Vaughan Williams’s later masterpieces (for the most part, it doesn’t), but that it is impressive in its own right. He does, however, make an intriguing observation: ‘Vaughan Williams may have withdrawn the Quintet but he did not forget it, for in 1954 he used the theme of the finale, slightly expanded, for the variations in the finale of his Violin Sonata.’

© Nigel Simeone