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. They 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, Daniel Saleeb, Oliver Sellwood, Nick Morrish-Rarity, Camilo Mendez, Amber Priestley 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 Nonclassical, Huddersfield Hubshorts, Guildhall New Music Festival, Sounds New Festival, Birmingham Conservatoire Frontiers, Leeds University, University of Sussex and University of Southampton.
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 which was broadcast daily for a week as part of their 70th birthday celebrations. In 2017 the ensemble premiered a new work by Helen Papaioannou at Nonclassical and PLAYLIST Southampton. In 2018/2019 they premiered The Virus Within: Hearing HIV – a lecture recital by Benjamin Oliver and leading virologist Chad Swanson.
Workers Union Ensemble have enjoyed collaborations with other new music groups. At Birmingham Conservatoire they worked with Danish guitar group KROCK to workshop student compositions and at University of Southampton members of WUE collaborated with Canadian group Ensemble Paramirabo to workshop ideas for a puppet ballet by Benjamin Oliver and director Rachel Warr.
The ensemble have also worked with a wide range of student composers in workshops around the UK and are available to book as a flexible ensemble for composition workshops.
Workers Union Ensemble are: