City of London Sinfonia

City of London Sinfonia

Firmly established as one of the UK's leading chamber orchestras, City of London Sinfonia (CLS) was founded in 1971 by the late Richard Hickox and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Led by Stephen Layton (Artistic Director & Principal Conductor) and Michael Collins (Principal Conductor), the Orchestra has earned a reputation for strong, distinctive programming, outstanding performances and recordings, and a passion for music featuring the voice.

Performing throughout the UK and abroad, CLS makes regular appearances at all the major London concert halls and venues, as well as St Paul's Cathedral and other venues in the City of London. It has been resident orchestra at the capital's popular Opera Holland Park since 2004 and holds a long-standing residency in High Wycombe, as well as being a regular guest at major UK festivals. In addition the Orchestra performs lively Crash, Bang, Wallop! family concerts offering young listeners an exciting and interactive introduction to classical music.

CLS has made over one hundred recordings including a series of operas by Benjamin Britten on the Chandos label and won a Grammy Award for Best Opera for its recording of Peter Grimes.

Extending their innovative reach and approach, CLS musicians deliver professional skills training for corporate businesses, offering a creative approach to supporting achievement and performance. Founded in 2000, Development through Music is a pioneering programme and one of the first of its kind in the country.

Collins, Michael

Michael Collins' dazzling virtuosity and sensitive musicianship have made him one of today's most sought-after soloists. He performs as a soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras, including the Philadelphia, NHK Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, City of Birmingham Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, BBC Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestra.
A recent recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award, this award places Collins amongst past recipients such as Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Murray Perahia and Andras Schiff. The award was made in recognition of the pivotal role that Collins has played in expanding the clarinet repertoire, Michael Collins commissions and premieres repertoire by prominent composers, including John Adams, Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, Elena Kats-Chernin, Thea Musgrave and Mark Anthony Turnage. Engagements in his current diary include New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Orchestra della Radiotelevisione Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, Bournemouth Symphony, Tampere Philharmonic, Russian National Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony and Auckland Philharmonia. 
Collins has special relationships with many of the worlds leading chamber orchestras, including the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and the City of London Sinfonia, with whom he has developed a particularly close relationship. Building on his long established role as soloist with these orchestras, in recent years Collins has begun to work with them increasingly as director and conductor, something that has become central to his career. His successes in this role are testament to the persuasive musicianship and galvanising leadership that is evident in his conducting.

Michael Collins is also in demand as a chamber musician, regularly performing in recital with Leon McCawley and in chamber ensembles with artists such as the Belcea Quartet, Martha Argerich, Mikhail Pletnev, Lars Vogt and Joshua Bell.

Image Credit: 
Eric Richmond

Sessions, John

John Sessions, is a British actor and comedian. He is known for comedy improvisation in television shows such as Whose Line Is It Anyway?; as a panellist on QI; and as a character actor in numerous films, both in the UK and in Hollywood.

Simcock, Gwilym


Gwilym Simcock is one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers on the British scene.  Able to move effortlessly between jazz and classical music, he can, at times, inhabit both worlds and has been described as stylistically reminiscent of Keith Jarrett, complete with ‘harmonic sophistication and subtle dovetailing of musical traditions’ as well as being a pianist of ‘exceptional’, ‘brilliant’ and ‘dazzling’ ability.  His music has been widely acclaimed as ‘engaging, exciting, often unexpected, melodically enthralling, complex and wonderfully optimistic’. Gwilym’s influences include jazz legends Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and John Taylor and classical composers Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky, Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Although principally a jazz artist, Gwilym is breaking new ground between genres and often uses classical reference points in his composed work. Aside from his renowned solo piano work, Gwilym has worked extensively throughout Europe with the cream of British and international jazz artists including Dave Holland, Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Bob Mintzer, Bobby McFerrin, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum.  His own groups as leader range from trio to big band.  His debut album “Perception” (Basho) featuring his sextet with Stan Sulzmann (saxophones), John Parricelli (guitar), Phil Donkin (bass), Martin France (drums) and Ben Bryant (percussion). was nominated for Best Album in the BBC Jazz Awards 2008 and has been critically acclaimed at home and abroad. His 2009 release "Blues Vignette" (Basho)  featured both solo piano and work with his new trio with Yuri Goloubev (bass) and James Maddren (drums). The album has been universally praised as "sublime", "flawless", "impressive" "a marker that few others are likely to equal". His most recent solo album "Good Days at Schloss Elmau" on the prestigious ACT label was nominated for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2011 and has been lauded as "dazzlingly fresh", "world class", "stupendous" "phenomenal"  "a cause for huge celebration".  His collaborative band The Impossible Gentlemen with Mike Walker (guitar), Steve Swallow (bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums) whose album of the same name was released in June 2011 on Basho has been described as "nothing short of sensational". In 2012 his second album on ACT "Lighthouse" with Tim Garland (reeds) and Asaf Sirkis (drums) was released to critical acclaim. His latest project for ACT featuring The City of London Sinfonia will be released next year.

Winner of the Perrier Award, BBC Jazz Awards 2005. British Jazz Awards 2005 Gwilym was the first BBC Radio 3 New Generation jazz Artist.  He was voted “Jazz Musician of the Year” at the 2007 Parliamentary Jazz Awards (and nominated again in 2010), and nominated for the 2008 BBC Jazz Awards as Best Instrumentalist. His impressive formal education includes Trinity College of Music (London), Chetham’s School of Music (Manchester) – where he studied classical piano, French horn and composition and the Royal Academy of Music (London) where he graduated from the jazz course with first class honours and the coveted 'Principal's Prize' for outstanding achievement. He teaches at the Royal Academy of Music where he was recently given the honour of "Associate".

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City of London Sinfonia

Michael Collins, clarinet

Gwilym Simcock, piano

John Sessions, narrator


This commission fuses the worlds of classical music and jazz, and celebrates the virtuosity of City of London Sinfonia Principal Conductor and Clarinettist Michael Collins with a distinctive new work for Clarinet, Strings, Jazz Trio and Speaker. The project brings together some of the UK's most exceptional musical talents.

“I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to create a new work, featuring the world-class City of London Sinfonia, for the New Music Biennial. My aim is that the music we create will be engaging and moving, and hopefully a fulfilling and unique musical experience for audiences and musicians alike.” Gwilym Simcock

“We are delighted to be selected for New Music Biennial. The Orchestra has a long tradition of commissioning new music, and it is very exciting to be working with Gwilym Simcock, who can lead our players and audiences to new sounds and experiences.” Matthew Swann, Chief Executive, City of London Sinfonia


For more information about all 20 pieces of the New Music Biennial, visit our page:


City of London Sinfonia

On a Piece of Tapestry was commissioned by the City of London Sinfonia.


Gwilym Simcock appears courtesy of ACT Records.

Michael Collins appears courtesy of Chandos Records.


Produced with the support of partners and funders:

New Music Biennial Partners


The performance of On a Piece of Tapestry was recorded live by the BBC at the South Bank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 5 July 2014 and broadcast on BBC Radio between 7 and 13 July 2014.

Catalogue number:
NMC DL201405
Release Date:
28 July 2014