The London Sinfonietta is an English chamber orchestra founded in 1968 and based in London. The ensemble specialises in contemporary music and works across a wide range of genres, performing modern classics alongside world premieres, and includes music by electronica artists as well as folk and jazz musicians. Through regular collaborations with choreographers, video artists and film-makers, the ensemble places new music at the heart of contemporary culture, reaching out to new audiences and embracing the technical challenges of pushing musical boundaries.
Nicholas Snowman and David Atherton founded the orchestra in 1968. Atherton was its first Music Director, from 1968-1973. Michael Vyner served as the Artistic Director from 1972-1989. Paul Crossley took over and served from 1988-1994. Markus Stenz served as Music Director from 1994-1998. The composer Oliver Knussen was Music Director from 1998-2002 and is now the Sinfonietta's Conductor Laureate. The Artistic Director of the ensemble from 1998-2006 was Gillian Moore following 10 years as the ensemble's Education Officer.
The ensemble has commissioned and performed many works by both emerging and established composers. Its list of over 200 commissions reaches from its early support of Harrison Birtwistle, Iannis Xenakis and Luciano Berio to Magnus Lindberg, Thomas Adès, Steve Reich, Tansy Davies, Dai Fujikura, Jonny Greenwood, Django Bates, Roberto Carnevale, Kenneth Hesketh and Mark-Anthony Turnage. In August 1969 the ensemble premiered John Tavener's The Whale. In 1970 it recorded the work for The Beatles' label Apple Records.
The London Sinfonietta consciously aims to blur the boundaries between an artistic experience and an educational one, acknowledging that much of its work – whether on the platform or off – embraces an element of both. This results in an innovative strand of collaborative work with young artists, enabling the ensemble to introduce its music to new audiences and partners.
London Sinfonietta concert performances are increasingly being conceived as the centrepiece of a cluster of related projects and events. These often combine new technology and new media with live music-making in both educational and performance contexts, giving a platform for artistic work inspired by the ensemble’s repertoire.
Innovative ways of promoting contemporary music to new audiences include collaborations with Warp Records (with concerts seen by over 25,000 people across Europe) and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead. The ensemble’s young ambassadors scheme won the 2006 Royal Philharmonic Society Audience Development award for its success in bringing large and diverse audiences to performances of Luigi Nono and Iannis Xenakis among others.
Residence and Festivals
The ensemble is an Associate Artist of the Southbank Centre, where it performs its London season under both its Conductor Laureate Oliver Knussen and guest conductors such as Diego Masson, Pierre-André Valade, Martyn Brabbins and George Benjamin. Starting in 2008, the ensemble is also scheduled to give London concerts at the newly constructed Kings Place complex. Concerts in London are complemented by a busy national and international touring schedule, with a priority of taking the best of British music to venues and festivals worldwide.
An acclaimed discography includes seminal recordings of many 20th-century classics, including the premiere recording of Hans Werner Henze's song cycle Voices under the baton of the composer. The orchestra was featured on EMI's 1988 3-CD authentic recording of Kern and Hammerstein's Show Boat. It has recently been expanded by releases on the London Sinfonietta Label, focussing on live performances of otherwise unavailable repertoire. These CDs include a young composers series, 50th birthday tributes to Oliver Knussen, and Toru Takemitsu’s Arc and Green.
Biography from Wikipedia