Bristol Ensemble is a professional chamber orchestra, formed in 1994 by violinist Roger Huckle (originally called the Emerald Ensemble). They’re best known for their work with film and media, and their contemporary music project – Elektrostatic.
Bristol Ensemble also carries out various community outreach programmes in schools, colleges and for the elderly. They’ve recorded for TV and film, notably the BBC Natural History Unit.
Peter Donohoe was born in Manchester in 1953. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, graduated in music at Leeds University, and went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derek Wyndham and then in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod. He is acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique.
In recent seasons Donohoe has appeared with Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and Concert Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonia, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Belarusian State Symphony Orchestra, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has undertaken a UK tour with the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as giving concerts in many South American and European countries, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Russia, and USA. Other engagements include performances of all three MacMillian piano concertos with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, a series of concerts for the Ravel and Rachmaninov Festival at Bridgewater Hall, and numerous performances with The Orchestra of the Swan.
Donohoe is also in high demand as a jury member for international competitions. He has recently served on the juries at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow (2011 and 2015), Busoni International Competition in Bolzano, Italy (2012), the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (2016), Georges Enescu Competition in Bucharest (2016), Hong Kong International Piano Competition (2016), and Ricardo Viñes International Competition in Lleida, Spain, along with many national competitions both within the UK and abroad.
Recent discs include a new disc of Scriabin Piano Sonatas (SOMM Records) which was described as ‘magnificent’ by the Sunday Times; a recording of Witold Maliszewski’s Piano Concerto in B flat minor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates (Dutton Vocalion); and three discs of Prokofiev piano sonatas for SOMM Records, the third of which was released at the end of April 2016. The first Prokofiev disc was described by Gramophone as ‘devastatingly effective’, declaring Donohoe to be ‘in his element’, and a review in Classical Notes identified Donohoe’s ‘remarkably sensitive approach to even the most virtuosic of repertoire’. His second Prokofiev disc was given 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine, and the third disc was highly praised by The Times, Birmingham Post, and Jessica Duchen. Other recordings include Cyril Scott’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Martin Yates (Dutton Vocalion), and Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy on a Theme of John Field with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Martin Yates (also Dutton), for which BBC Music Magazine described him as an ‘excellent soloist’, and Gramophone stated that it ‘compelled from start to finish’.
Donohoe has performed with all the major London orchestras, as well as orchestras from across the world: the Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Symphony and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He has also played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Sir Simon Rattle’s opening concerts as Music Director. He made his twenty-second appearance at the BBC Proms in 2012 and has appeared at many other festivals including six consecutive visits to the Edinburgh Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, and at the Ruhr and Schleswig Holstein Festivals in Germany. In the United States, his appearances have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Peter Donohoe also performs numerous recitals internationally and continues working with his long standing duo partner Martin Roscoe, as well as more recent collaborations with artists such as Raphael Wallfisch, Elizabeth Watts and Noriko Ogawa.
Donohoe has worked with many of the world’s greatest conductors: Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Andrew Davis and Yevgeny Svetlanov. More recently he has appeared as soloist with the next generation of excellent conductors: Gustavo Dudamel, Robin Ticciati and Daniel Harding.
Peter Donohoe is an honorary doctor of music at seven UK universities, and was awarded a CBE for services to classical music in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List.
Ben Gernon is one of Britain’s most prodigious young conducting talents. Having studied under the late Sir Colin Davies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and graduating in 2011, he is now professor of Musicality at the college. In 2013 he won the prestigious Nestlé and Salzburg Young Conductors Award, conducting the Camerata Salzburg, and also featured as BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Rising Star: Great artist of tomorrow’.
In Spring 2013 he assisted Gustavo Dudamel during the LA Philharmonic residency at the Barbican and has since been appointed a Dudamel Fellow with the LA Philharmonic. In 2014 he conducted Bristol Ensemble as part of their ‘Northern Lights’ Series at Colston Hall to great acclaim. In 2014 Ben makes his BBC Proms debut, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a programme celebrating the 80th birthday of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.