Collon, Nicholas


Nicholas Collon is establishing an enviable reputation as a commanding and inspirational interpreter in an exceptionally wide range of music.  As founder and Principal Conductor of Aurora Orchestra he has promoted imaginative programming that integrates challenging repertoire from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with masterworks of the Classical and Romantic eras.  Nicholas and Aurora were winners of Best Ensemble at the 2011 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards and Nicholas is the recipient of the 2012 Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent.

Having made a very successful debut at the BBC Proms in 2010, Nicholas has been re-invited each successive year with Aurora Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.  With Aurora Nicholas leads the New Moves series, a unique three-year cross-arts residency at LSO St Luke’s which has included critically acclaimed collaborations with capoeira, film, theatre, tango, and literature.

In addition to his work with Aurora, he is increasingly in demand as a guest conductor with other ensembles in the UK and abroad. In recent seasons Nicholas has worked with ensembles including the Philhamonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC and Royal Philharmonics, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Northern Sinfonia, Academy of Ancient Music and Ensemble Intercontemporain.

Nicholas has recently appeared with ENO with The Magic Flute, WNO for Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream, and Glyndebourne on Tour with Britten’s Rape of Lucretia.  Other operatic highlights have included  special projects at Glyndebourne conducting new works, The Knight Crew by Julian Phillips and Imago  by Orlando Gough. With the Opera Group he has conducted the first performances of Elena Langer’s The Lion’s Face and Luke Bedford’s Seven Angels, the latter with BCMG.

Image Credit: 
Maximilian Baillie

Aurora Orchestra

Aurora Orchestra

Since its creation in 2005, Aurora Orchestra has rapidly established itself as the most significant new British chamber orchestra in a generation, and one of Europe’s leading chamber orchestras, combining electrifying live performance with a uniquely creative approach to programming and presentation. Under the artistic direction of Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon, Aurora has developed flourishing series at LSO St Luke’s and Kings Place, and also appears regularly at other major London venues including Southbank Centre, Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall. The orchestra enjoys an increasingly busy touring calendar both in the UK and internationally, and has worked with a roster of world-class artists including Ian Bostridge, Gerald Finley, Angelika Kirchschlager, Anthony Marwood, Kate Royal, Maxim Rysanov and Robin Ticciati.


Recent and future highlights include tours to Bremen, Shanghai, Melbourne, St Petersburg and Brazil; a major new series for the Southbank Centre in 2013 as part of its year-long festival of twentieth-century music The Rest is Noise; televised concerts for the BBC Proms and a Christmas Day special on BBC 2; the launch of three UK regional residencies; and the release of a debut disc for Warner Classics in January 2015. Aurora is the youngest-ever recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Ensemble Award – the UK’s most prestigious award for live classical music.


Based at Kings Place since 2009, Aurora has played a central role in the venue's year-long 'Unwrapped' series devoted to Mozart (2011), Brahms (2012), Bach (2013), Chamber Classics (2014), and Minimalism (2015), and was formally installed as the Kings Place Resident Orchestra in 2013. As the UK’s most creative orchestra, Aurora has developed a particular reputation for innovative programming incorporating a wide variety of musical styles and art forms, focused around its New Moves series at LSO St Luke’s in London. Since its launch in 2010, New Moves has pioneered a new kind of ‘Orchestral Theatre’, infused with eclectic repertoire combinations, innovative presentation, and inspiring artistic partnerships ranging across dance, film, visual art and theatre. Recent highlights have included collaborations with Brazilian capoeira dancers, klezmer musicians, painters, and breakdancers; the Australian film-maker Jon Frank and the US horror novelist Peter Straub. The series has attracted consistent critical acclaim, with one recent review describing “an almost belligerent brilliance” (Geoff Brown, The Times).


Guided by the conviction that orchestral music should be accessible, alive and relevant to the broadest possible audience, Aurora’s activities extend to myriad settings beyond the concert hall, with a varied programme of work in schools, hospitals and other community settings. Recent highlights of its programming for family audiences have included major televised family performances for the BBC Proms in collaboration with Aardman Animation (creators of Wallace and Gromit), and CBBC’s award-winning Horrible Histories series, as well as the launch of a new series of storytelling family concerts at Kings Place entitled Far, Far Away.


Objects At An Exhibition

Objects At An Exhibition
  • Total duration: 54'36
  • CD | PRICE £12.99

  • MP3 | 320K 44.1 KHz
    94.4 MB
     | PRICE £7.99

  • FLAC 16 | 16bit 44.1 KHz
    215.70 MB
     | PRICE £8.99

  • FLAC 24 | 24bit 88.2 KHz
    865.90 MB
     | PRICE £13.99

  • Album Booklet PDF | FREE


Objects at an Exhibition is a landmark commissioning project by NMC Recordings, in partnership with Aurora Orchestra and the Science Museum

More information about this project can be found here


Re-imagining Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition for the twenty-first century, these six new works, commissioned by NMC Recordings, are inspired by an object or space in London's world-renowned Science Museum.

Each composer had free rein to pick an exhibit. Thea Musgrave was attracted to the impressive Energy Hall with its C18th-C19th steam engines; the result is a playful work for woodwind, brass and strings that conveys the inner workings of the vast machines. Christopher Mayo's piece for cello, double bass and four samplers is inspired by a slate statue of R.J. Mitchell (the designer of the Spitfire) in the Flight Gallery. Samples of aeroplane engines grow from distant drone to cachophonous noise. The enormous but 'melancholic' quality of 2LO (the first BBC transmitter) was what first caught Claudia Molitor's eye, and after doing some research she discovered that initially the transmission of music was prohibited and only speech was deemed acceptable. She uses BBC Sound Archive recordings from 2LO broadcasts in her piece. David Sawer's work, with percussion-like strings, woodwind and flugel horn, conjures up vivid images of the 1830 York Mail Coach (displayed in the 'Making the Modern World' gallery) speeding through the streets. Gerald Barry chose an artificial arm with fingers stretched to play only octaves as inspiration – the prosthetic limb belonged to an unidentified female pianist and Barry's haunting, hypnotic composition continually repeats a two-note phrase which gradually evolves into octaves. The graphic score hand-drawn and partially coloured by Barry Guy is a work of art in itself. Charles Babbage's Difference Engine and his drawings influenced Guy's piece which unsurprisingly, for a composer/bassist who has worked in free improv groups with Derek Bailey and Evan Parker, calls for spontaneity and improvisation from the 13 musicians of the Aurora Orchestra.  


'The Aurora Orchestra respond with keen virtuosity to Nicholas Collon's alert direction. Vividly recorded, with booklet-notes providing ample context, it is more than just a memento of the live presentation at the Science Museum this October, which promises to be a watershed in the evolution of site-specific performance' Gramophone

'The most headline-grabbing of a series of recent announcements by NMC [that] aims to increase the audience for contemporary music ... this is an imaginative step on that worthwhile mission' Gramophone

"Fascinating ideas ... Intriguing contrast between the composers ... Exhilarating performances from Aurora Orchestra" BBC Radio3 (CD Review)

'Thea Musgrave’s Power Play takes its inspiration from the steam engines ... [a] charmingly ‘technical’ work with a good deal of Stravinskian neoclassical wit. The statue of R.J. Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire, is the starting point of Christopher Mayo’s Supermarine, a grungy piece for cello, double bass and sampled aircraft engines. Claudia Molitor's 2TwoLO takes its name from first BBC transmitter. It begins with BBC archive recordings ...  the music atmospherically creeps, bumps and scrapes into existence, gradually taking on a more solid form. David Sawer’s exciting Coachman Chronos, flies along with the energy of the historic York Mail Coach ... Gerald Barry’s melancholic The One-Armed Pianist is inspired by a false limb designed to allow the left arm of an injured pianist to play octaves. In it a simple two note figure is gradually expanded until the octave is reached, and then insisted upon with sad significance. Barry Guy’s "Mr. Babbage is Coming to Dinner!", an improvisatory work full of keenly imagined and felicitous instrumental timbres, completes what is a very satisfying programme – the works are wonderfully varied and one can easily imagine how effective they would be in situ. This project, one must remember, is just one of many – some collaborative, some solo – from NMC over the last few years. These include 20x12, New Music Biennial Project, Music Map, Digital Discoveries and Next Wave. When it comes to supporting and promoting British contemporary music, no other record label comes close.'



‘Largely ignoring the brief, Thea Musgrave responded to an entire room, the museum’s Energy Hall, rather than an object in her Power Play, a quasi-chamber concerto for orchestra, with breezy contrapuntal lines and warm timbres’ – Neil Fisher, The Times.

‘David Sawer also found some rhythmic energy in Coachman Chronos, inspired by the York-London Mail Coach, with lively parts for French horn and cornet.’ – Neil Fish, The Times

'At times it felt a bit like attending a concert organised by the Clangers, but the packing never intruded on the music, and the performances were typically excellent’ – Andrew Clement, The Guardian

'the enthusiasm each composer had for the project actually jumps off the page when described by them...the pieces are marvelous and varied.' American Record Guide


Science Museum event reviews



Objects Funders Boilerplate


Thank you very much to the individuals who donated to Objects at an Exhibition through the 2014 Big Give Christmas Challenge. With our pledge from The Boltini Trust, Big Give matching and Gift Aid we raised over £13,000 towards the project:

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Recorded at All Saints Church, Tooting, London on 10-14 May 2015

David Lefeber Recording Engineer & Producer
Colin Matthews Executive Producer for NMC       

The six works on this album were premiered at the Science Museum, London, 3 October 2015.

Thea Musgrave’s music is published by Novello & Co. David Sawer’s music is published by Universal Edition. Gerald Barry’s music is published by Schott Music.       

Francois Hall Graphic design


(p) & (c) NMC Recordings

Schott Music
Chester Novello
Universal Edition
Composer Editions
Catalogue number:
NMC D215
Release Date:
18 September 2015