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Ensemble Bash, Percussion Quartet

Biography

Richard Benjafield, Chris Brannick, Stephen Hiscock, Catherine Ring.

Formed in 1992, the British percussion quartet Ensemble Bash has a reputation as one of the world’s most innovative and groundbreaking chamber ensembles. Using the music of West Africa as both core repertoire and a guiding spiritual influence, Ensemble Bash mixes contemporary classical, jazz and music theatre into unforgettable performances.

Since its inception Ensemble Bash has been dedicated to commissioning new repertoire for percussion ensemble and has developed special relationships with composers including Graham Fitkin, Stephen Montague, Nick Hayes, Howard Skempton and Stewart Copeland. Ensemble Bash has also given world premieres of works by Tan Dun, Keith Tippett, David Bedford, Nitin Sawhney, Orphy Robinson, Michael Daugherty, John Woolrich, Anne Dudley and Steve Reich.

Ensemble Bash has toured the UK and Europe extensively, including regular appearances at the Southbank Centre and BBC Proms, most recently in 2012 performing world premieres of works by Eric Whitacre and Imogen Heap. From the 2018/19 season and lasting three years, the group will be Ensemble in Residence at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Four major tours of Italy included, in 2003, a performance for the Primo Maggio concert in Rome to an audience of more than 500,000. Further afield, Ensemble Bash has performed throughout Ghana, at the Melbourne and Sydney International Festivals, and in Hong Kong, to mark the handover of the colony to the Chinese in 1997. In 2013 and then again in 2018 Ensemble Bash were featured artists at the RNCM Percussion Festival.

Amongst its extensive collaborations, Ensemble Bash has appeared in concert with artists including Joanna Macgregor, Chick Corea, Django Bates, Nana Vasconcelos, Evelyn Glennie, The Hilliard Ensemble, The National Dance Company of Ghana and The Pan African Orchestra.

Since the release of its debut album Launch on Sony Classical in 1994, Ensemble Bash has been regularly broadcast around the world. Other recordings include Fiddlesticks with violinist Madeleine Mitchell on Signum Classics; Neural Circuits, the music of Nitin Sawhney, with Joanna MacGregor and Britten Sinfonia on SoundCircus; and the Grammy nominated Orchestralli with drumming legend Stewart Copeland on Ponderosa. Their latest album A Dolls House (Signum) – a collection of their commissions from their second ten years – was released to acclaim in November 2012.

Ensemble Bash is renowned for its workshops and family concerts and its pioneering education work has included extensive residencies for Dartington International Summer School, Cheltenham Festival, SPNM’s Sound Inventors, Spitalfields Festival and the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the Melbourne Festival in Australia.

Ensemble Bash is supported by Bell Percussion and the PRS Foundation.

ensemblebash.com

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Discography

Fiddlesticks

La Notte della Taranta

Neutral Circuits

Damba Moon

Slapstick, Whipcrack, Thundersheet

Graham Fitkin: Hook

Programmes

An inventive programme based around miniatures – toy pianos, music boxes, egg slicers, baking beans – that includes music by Stewart Copeland, the legendary drummer of The Police. All pieces in this concert were especially written for ensemblebash and feature on their album ‘A Doll’s House’. 

Graham Fitkin - Shard
Howard Skepmton - Slip-stream Stephen Montague - Rimfire
David Bedford - Bash Peace
Nick Hayes - Dance Play
Peter McGarr - Sound Asleep Stewart Copeland - Breather
Rachel Leach - Echolalia
Keith Tippett - Dance of the Dragonfly 

A programme comprising selections of the best percussion music from the USA. Pieces by Steve Reich, John Cage, Lou Harrison and others. Cage and Reich, towering figures of 20th century music, represent two important streams in American music at that time, with the former connected to mysticism, chance and improvisation and the latter to minimalism and rhythmic subtlety.

ensemblebash’s extensive experience with West African music gives them a great insight into this music. In this programme, pulsing marimbas of minimalism meet found objects – a donkey’s jawbone, a lion’s roar, brake drums, pieces of wood and corrupted pianos. 

Lou Harrison/John Cage - Double Music
John Cage - Third Construction
John Cage - Second Construction
Steve Reich - Typing Music
Steve Reich - Quartet

Music from and inspired by ensemblebash’s travels around the world – concentrating on Africa. The slap of the djembe and the buzz of the balafon combine with antiphonal cast iron bells and the talking drums of the Dagomba people of Ghana. Plus pieces for marimba and vibes based on Malian Kora and South African Kalimba. 

Traditional - Damba
Thomas Segkura - Yaa Yaa Kole
Traditional  - Siwe Bell Music
Traditional - Kumpo
Michael Blake - Let Us Run Out Of The Rain
Simon Limbrick - Mopti Street

Reviews

An almost telepathic form of ensemble communication.

The Independent

Left the audience agape with shock and excitement.

The Ghanaian Chronicle

A fierce mix of discipline and intensity that drew the audience into a ritual.

The Guardian

Ensemble Bash make playing percussion the coolest, noisiest and funniest occupation on earth.

The Times

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