The Nash Ensemble, "Resident Chamber Ensemble at London's Wigmore Hall" since 2010, has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's finest and most adventurous chamber groups, and through the dedication of its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman CBE and the caliber of its players, has gained a similar reputation all over the world. Its repertoire is vast, and the imaginative, innovative, and unusual programs are as finely designed as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the group takes its name.
Not that the Nash Ensemble is classically restricted; it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality, works from Haydn to the avant-garde. Indeed, it is one of the major contributors towards the recognition and promotion of many leading composers. By the end of the 2013-2014 season, the group will have presented more than 300 new works, of which 186 have been especially commissioned, providing a legacy for generations to come.
An impressive collection of recordings illustrates the same varied and colorful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known neglected gems, and important contemporary works. The Ensemble's British Composers series for Hyperion Records has received much praise and many of these works were heard in the 2012-2013 Nash series at Wigmore Hall "Dreamers of Dreams - British Music from the first half of the 20th Century." In 2012, David Matthews's chamber music CD entitled Winter Passions was short-listed in the contemporary category of the Gramophone Classical Music awards. Releases receiving critical acclaim have included recordings of all the Mozart String Quintets; Russian chamber music by Arensky, Glazunov, and Borodin; and chamber works by Robert Schumann and the Spanish composer Joaquin Turina. Releases in 2013 included chamber works by Frank Bridge and Alexander Goehr, and a CD of chamber music works by Pavel Haas, Victor Ullmann, Gideon Klein, and Hans Krasa, who were incarcerated in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia between 1941 and 1945. In addition, the Nash and the BBC Singers made the premiere recording of Harrison Birtwistle's Moth Requiem.
The Nash Ensemble makes many foreign tours: concerts have been given throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. The group is a regular visitor to many international music festivals and is heard on the radio, television, at the BBC Proms, at music clubs throughout the country, and at Wigmore Hall, where its regular annual series have been enthusiastically received. In 2012-2013, the Nash British series entitled Dreamers of Dreams brought together masterworks such as Elgar's String Quartet and Piano Quintet, Vaughan Williams's On Wenlock Edge and Five Mystical Songs, and Britten's Les Illuminations and Serenade for tenor, horn and strings. The series also included Finzi's masterpiece Dies Natalis, Bliss's enchanting songs piquant with ensemble, and culminated with film and radio scores by Britten and Walton, including Night Mail, The Way to the Sea, and Henry V.
Other highlights in 2013 have included a weekend in April at the Prague Conservatoire, performing music by composers incarcerated in the Theresienstadt concentration camp between 1941 and 1945. The weekend also involved films, talks with survivors, and master classes, and was presented in collaboration with the Jewish Museum in Prague. The inspiration for the project came from the Theresienstadt weekend which the Nash presented at Wigmore Hall in June 2010, and subsequently at 92nd Street Y in New York in January 2012.
American popular music in its many guises has conquered the world, and it has also influenced many American concert composers in their search for a national or a personal style-while the USA has attracted many leading European composers to its shores. During the 2013-2014 season, the Nash Ensemble explores these strands, with programs featuring Europeans in New York, Americans in Paris, American Song, and the best of Hollywood and Broadway, including highlights of the late musicals of Richard Rodgers. Guest appearances include the jazz singer Claire Martin singing American songs associated with Paris, and the acclaimed pianist Joshua Rifkin playing classic Scott Joplin rags. The Nash's annual new music showcase "Nash Inventions" is both a final installment of the Ensemble's American Series at Wigmore Hall-including a seminal work by John Adams and three of the finest chamber works written by the great American composer Elliott Carter-and an 80th Birthday Tribute to Sir Harrison Birtwistle, with an atmospheric septet, written for the Nash in 2011, and, with the BBC Singers, a recent choral work evoking the mysterious world of moths.
The Nash has received many accolades, including two Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in the chamber music category "for the breadth of its taste and its immaculate performance of a wide range of music."
The Nash Ensemble's artistic director Amelia Freedman has received many honors, including an FRAM and the MBE, which was conferred upon her in 1989. In 1996, she was appointed Chevalier dans l'Ordre National du Mérite by the President of France for her services to French music. She has also been awarded the prestigious Leslie Boosey Award by the Performing Right Society and the Royal Philharmonic Society. In June 2006, she was awarded the CBE in the Queen's birthday honors, for her services to music. In 2010, she was awarded the Officier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, for her services to classical music. In 2011, she received the IAMA award "as a sign of great respect for her work from the artist management profession." Amelia Freedman was Head of Classical Music at the Southbank Centre from 1995 to 2006. She has been the Artistic Director of the Bath Mozartfest since 1995 and the Bath Bachfest since 2011.
(Current as of March 2014)