Biography

Workers Union Ensemble initially came together in 2008 whilst studying at Guildhall School of Music and Drama for a performance of Louis Andriessen’s epic work of the same name. Since graduating they have gradually evolved into the unusual seven-piece line-up of oboe, saxophone, piano, double bass, two percussionists and conductor. The ensemble line-up has elicited a wide range of responses from young and established composers including Joe Cutler, Kate Whitley, Jay Capperauld, Mic Spencer, Daniel Saleeb, Adam Fergler, Oliver Sellwood, David Ibbett, Nick Morrish-Rarity, Camilo Mendez and Michael Finnissy. They have formed particularly close relationships with their four composers in association Matthew Kaner (2013), Ryan Latimer (2014), Seán Clancy (2015-16) and Helen Papaioannou (2017).

Performance highlights include festivals (Huddersfield Hubshorts 2009, Guildhall New Music 2011, Sounds New 2012) and concert series (Birmingham Conservatoire Frontiers [2013]; Leeds University [2011 & 2015]; University of Sussex [2015]; University of Southampton [2012, 2013 & 2015]; Nonclassical [2013]).

The ensemble was awarded funding by the PRS for Music Foundation to undertake their ‘Constructing a Repertoire’ commissioning programme, inaugural call for works and Autumn 2013 tour. In February 2015 they completed a four-date UK tour, supported by Sound and Music, performing Simon Steen-Andersen’s On And Off And To And Fro alongside five newly commissioned works. In April 2016 Workers Union Ensemble collaborated with the London-based New Dots organisation, performing four newly commissioned works, and then in September 2016 recorded Matthew Kaner’s Collide for BBC Radio 3. In 2017 the ensemble played at Nonclassical and PLAYLIST in Southampton and 2018 sees them premiere a new work, The Virus Within: Hearing HIV by Benjamin Oliver.

The ensemble have also worked with a wide range of student composers in workshops around the UK.

Workers Union Ensemble are:

Anna Durance – Oboe
Ellie Steemson – Saxophone
Caz Wolfson – Percussion
Joley Cragg – Percussion
Edward Pick – Piano
Mercedes Cartwright – Double Bass
Benjamin Oliver – Conductor

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