Ensemble 360

Samuel Worth Chapel, Sheffield
Sunday 19 May 2024, 5.00am

£14 UC, DLA or PIP
£5 Under 35s & Students

Book Tickets

**Doors will open for this event at 4.45am**

Programme includes:
BARBER Summer Music (12’)
MESSIAEN Appel interstellaire (6’)
NIELSEN Wind Quintet (mvt 1) (9’)
MILHAUD La Cheminée du roi René (extracts) (6’) 

No interval 

Back by popular demand! The wind players of Ensemble 360 will perform a selection of music to accompany the rising sun, alongside the dawn chorus of singing birds. Featuring the blues-inflected Summer Music by Samuel Barber, the technical fireworks of Messiaen’s interstellar horn-calls (recorded above the Hope Valley by Naomi Atherton for our online festival in 2020), and music for wind inspired by nature, this promises to be an atmospheric morning of music in a unique setting. 

Please note that there are limited spaces and early booking is recommended. 

Part of Sheffield Chamber Music Festival 2024. 

View the brochure online here or download it below.


Save £s when you book for 5 Music in the Round concerts or more at the same timeFind out more here.

BARBER Samuel, Summer Music

In 1953, Samuel Barber was commissioned to write a new work for the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, the fee to be paid for not in the usual way but by contributions from the Detroit Symphony audience. Originally, he was asked for a septet (three wind, three strings and piano) but settled on the scoring for wind quintet after hearing performances and attending numerous rehearsals by the New York Wind Quintet who offered a great deal of technical advice about writing for this instrumental combination. In spite of this close collaboration, the first performance had been promised to Detroit and was given there by Detroit Symphony principals on 26 March 1956 when it was enthusiastically received, one local critic noting that the audience was delighted by ‘its mood of pastoral serenity.’ Following the premiere, Barber again worked with the New York Wind Quintet, making some cuts and putting Summer Music into its final shape. After performances in Boston and on a tour of South America, the New York ensemble played it at Carnegie Hall on 16 November 1956. Since then, the work has become established as cornerstone of the twentieth-century wind quintet repertoire. Cast in a single movement, the mood is mostly quiet and rhapsodic, and as for the title, Barber wrote that ‘it’s supposed to be evocative of summer – summer meaning languid, not killing mosquitoes.’ 


© Nigel Simeone 

MESSIAEN Olivier, Appel interstellaire

On 9 March 1971, Messiaen’s former pupil Jean-Pierre Guézec died at the age of thirty-six. At the Royan Festival a few weeks later, a musical ‘Tombeau’ was dedicated to his memory comprising pieces for solo instruments by composers such as Gilbert Amy, Betsy Jolas, Marius Constant and Iannis Xenakis. Messiaen’s piece was for solo horn and it was written within a few days of Guézec’s death (he noted its completion on 20 March). At the Royan concert it was played by Daniel Bourgue under the title found on the earliest manuscript: ‘Piece for horn, in memory of Jean-Pierre Guézec’. Three years later, with the new title Appel interstellaire, it became the sixth movement of Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux étoiles, first performed in New York on 20 November 1974. While Messiaen subsequently insisted that he wanted the movement performed only as part of the larger work, its origins were as an independent solo. It makes extreme demands on the performer, requiring the use of extended techniques such as glissandos, strange, swirling oscillations, and howling sounds. The result is an astonishing piece of virtuoso writing, composed as a highly personal response to the tragedy of Guézec’s early death.   

© Nigel Simeone 

NIELSEN Carl, Wind Quintet

Nielsen composed his Wind Quintet in 1922 for the Copenhagen Wind Quintet, whose Mozart playing had inspired him. As well as this work, Nielsen planned to write concertos for each of the members of the group but only completed those for flute and clarinet. He wrote it during a three-month stay in Gothenburg, immediately after completing the Fifth Symphony. In a letter to a friend he wrote that ‘the externals are very modest, but the technicalities are for that reason all the more difficult’, and he told he wife that it he was ‘greatly amused’ by the challenge. In his is own programme note on the work, Nielsen wrote:


‘The quintet for winds is one of the composer’s latest works, in which he has attempted to render the characters of the various instruments. At one moment they are all talking at once, at another they are quite alone. The work consists of three movements: a) Allegro, b) Minuet and c) Prelude – Theme with Variations. The theme for these variations is the melody for one of Nielsen’s spiritual songs, which has here been made the basis of a set of variations, now merry and quirky, now elegiac and serious, ending with the theme in all its simplicity and very quietly expressed.’


Nigel Simeone

MILHAUD Darius, La Cheminée du roi René (extracts)

Milhaud grew up in Aix-en-Provence, and was always proud of his Provençal heritage. It was also in Aix that “Le bon Roi René” (René of Anjou, 1409–1480) spent the last years of his life, a he’s celebrated with a handsome statue in the Place Forbin. La Cheminée du Roi René is a suite for wind quintet drawn from the music Milhaud composed for a film score. Each of the short movements is a charming depiction of Good King René’s court as they make their way to favourite spots in Provence. It includes stately dances (the Cortège, and ‘La Maousinglade’, a Sarabande), jugglers, jousting on the River Arc and hunting at Valabre. By the time Milhaud reworked the music he had fled France, occupied by the Nazis from June 1940, and settled at Mills College at Oakland. The first performance of this quintessentially French piece was thus given in California, by the San Francisco Woodwind Quintet, on 5 March 1941.


Nigel Simeone ©

“I will always remember it for the well-chosen music, the sun itself and the birdsong outside – magical.”

Audience member, Sunrise concert 2022

“A deeply moving experience.  ”

Audience member, Sunrise concert 2022

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