Kosmos Ensemble offer UK premiere for Festival of Chichester

Kosmos Ensemble
Kosmos Ensemble

Kosmos Ensemble will give the UK premiere of Errollyn Wallen's new triple concerto in Chichester Cathedral as part of the Festival of Chichester on July 5.

Spokesman James Inverne said: “The much-hailed, category-defying Kosmos join forces with British composer Errollyn Wallen and the Worthing Symphony Orchestra for Wallen's Concerto for Kosmos and Orchestra.

“Typically, concertos have a been a way to showcase the virtuosity of a soloist (every so often, multiple soloists) set against the spectacular, multi-dimensional canvas of an orchestra. Typically. But there is little that is typical about the Kosmos Ensemble. They are, indeed, a brilliantly untypical ensemble, who play untypical repertoire and with an untypical philosophy.

“The violinist (Harriet Mackenzie), violist (Meg Hamilton) and accordionist (Milos Milivojevic) who comprise Kosmos (who have, individually and collectively, virtuosity to spare) are fascinated to explore the relationships between classical, folk and world musics. Errollyn Wallen - one of the UK's most in-demand composers - has similarly been much-admired for her wide stylistic palette and her ability to somehow connect different musical worlds in ways that make perfect sense. So Wallen's new Concerto for Kosmos and Orchestra was always going to be about more than virtuosity.”

Kosmos violinist Harriet Mackenzie said: “Classical music has often been inspired by other genres, whether that be Dvorak's deep forays into folk music, Vaughan Williams noting down the songs he heard travelling the British Isles or Osvaldo Golijov channelling music of the Middle East.

“So we are excited to work with a composer who herself has such vast musical horizons. We knew she would create an amazing dialogue between the three of us and a full orchestra. The piece becomes a conversation about what music is and where it comes from, right there on the stage.

“Traditionally, concertos would have had an element of improvisation for the soloists, even if that was just a cadenza. Errollyn has been brave enough to let us improvise in the concerto, giving us a tangible freedom. So in this piece, I feel there is a real sense of continuing and expanding traditions as well as challenging and expanding boundaries. It's fantastically exciting to play and, we hope, to hear!"

The new concerto had its world premiere last month, at the Jersey Liberation Festival, with Kosmos joined by the Jersey Chamber Orchestra. "It was a sensational experience," says Harriet.

“The audience reaction was incredibly warm and we all felt part of a very special and thrilling new work. We can't wait to bring it back to Britain."

The Chichester performance will be its first in the UK, and there will be subsequent performances later in the year at the Tintern Abbey Festival and the Beaumaris Festival (both with the Welsh Chamber Orchestra).

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