Elder, Sir Mark

Sir Mark

Sir Mark Elder is Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra, and one of Britain's most successful conductors. He works regularly with the world's leading symphony orchestras, and enjoys particularly close associations with the London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  He has been principal guest conductor for the CBSO, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the London Mozart Players. Mark Elder has for many years conducted at the BBC Proms, and has twice let the internationally televised Last Night.  His other television works include films on the lives of Verdi and Donizetti.

As Music Director of the English National Opera, he led the company on successful tours of the USA and Russia, attracting international acclaim.  He appears regularly in all the major opera houses of the world, including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera New York, and the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich.

In 2003 the Hallé launched it's own recording label, and the first releases, under Mark Elder's direction, have met with great critical acclaim.  He has won an Olivier award for his work at ENO, and was the Royal Philharmonic Society's Conductor of the Year in 2006.

Aldeburgh World Orchestra

Aldeburgh World Orchestra

The Aldeburgh World Orchestra was devised as a celebratory project for the 2012 London Olympics as part of  Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh Music.

The Programme was founded over 40 years ago by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears to bridge what they perceived as a training gap between conservatoires and the music profession. It has rapidly established a reputation as one of the world's leading centres of learning for exceptional young professional musicians. Residential courses and masterclasses take place throughout the year in the beautiful surroundings of the Suffolk coast where Britten lived and worked and participants benefit from an exceptional campus of performance spaces and studios which has grown up around the world-famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall, home of the Aldeburgh Festival. The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme is annually host to some of the world's finest performers and teachers who lead, and often participate in, intensive projects which mostly culminate in high-profile performances. It is exceptionally well-funded, thanks in part to Britten's legacy, with all successful participants receiving bursaries to cover course fees, accommodation and most of their travel costs.


Image Credit: 
Chris Christodoulou

Schaufer, Lucy


Lucy Schaufer 'occupies an undefinable space in the 'who's who' of classical music' (Gramophone).

She has been described as the 'go-to gal' for contemporary opera, a lauded performer of composers as diverse as Adams, Birtwistle, Knussen, Corigliano, Wallace and Heggie. In concert, previous seasons have included the world premiere of Simon Bainbridge’s The Garden of Earthly Delights with BCMG at the BBC Proms, George Benjamin’s Upon Silence with the London Sinfonietta at MITO and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Three Songs with BCMG (its US debut) and Oliver Knussen at the Library of Congress, Washington DC.

Most recently, she gave the US premiere performance of Simon Holt’s Canciones at the Maverick Concerts in Woodstock, NY. Her goal is to commission 25 new works in the coming years with hopes of supporting living composers and enabling new artistic collaborations.

Image Credit: 
Dan Welldon Photography

Wood, Alexandra


Alexandra Wood is fast establishing herself as one of the most dynamic, versatile violinists of her generation. She has given recitals for various international festivals including Brighton, Bath, Cheltenham, Huddersfield and Edinburgh, as well as appearing in prestigious venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall, the Purcell Room, Kings Place and in the BBC Proms. She graduated with a starred double first from Selwyn College, Cambridge before going on to the Royal College of Music in London, where she was President Emerita Scholar and studied with Itzhak Rashkovsky.

Alexandra has led orchestras and ensembles under the batons of Sir Colin Davis, Lorin Maazel, Tom Ades, Pierre Boulez, and Oliver Knussen. She regularly leads Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with whom she appeared in Carnegie Hall in 2008, and has guest-led other ensembles including London Sinfonietta, Radius, Chroma and Insomnio (Netherlands). She also teaches at Birmingham Conservatoire.

Alexandra gave her South Bank debut in 2001 as part of the Park Lane Group’s Young Artists’ Recital Series where she was described by The Times as 'highly charged yet imaginatively refined'. She has appeared as soloist with various orchestras, including the Philharmonia, City of London Sinfonia, and the OSJ collaborating with conductors including Richard Hickox, Martyn Brabbins and Sir Roger Norrington. She has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, for Classic FM, Polsat Polish Radio and for the Radio Suisse Romande.


BCMG was formed in 1987 from within the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and is established as one of Europe’s leading ensembles.   Sir Simon Rattle is the Group’s Founding Patron and has conducted BCMG in the UK, on tour in Europe and America, and on several EMI recordings. The Group has strong relationships with its two Artists-in-Association Oliver Knussen and John Woolrich, and also with Thomas Adès who conducts the Group during 2006/07 in Birmingham, London, Cologne and Paris, and with whom BCMG is invited to Carnegie Hall, New York in 2008. BCMG was awarded The Arts Ball 2002 Outstanding Achievement Award and has also won prestigious Prudential, Royal Philharmonic Society, Gramophone and PRS Millennial awards. In May 2005, BCMG was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Audience Development for its popular Rural Tours programme.
The core of BCMG's work is the performance of new music, and the Group has premiered over 100 new works by leading UK and overseas composers. Most have been commissioned with the help of a large number of individuals through BCMG’s ground-breaking Sound Investmentscheme. The Group regularly tours nationally and internationally. Recent UK engagements have included appearances at the Aldeburgh and Cheltenham Festivals, and at the BBC Proms with Birmingham Opera Company for Benjamin Britten’s CurlewRiver.  In April 2006, the Group toured the UK with New York-based jazz trumpeter, Dave Douglas, performing Blue Latitudes, a piece commissioned through BCMG’s Sound Investment scheme. Previous projects have included a European tour with Sir Simon Rattle in 2000, a tour of India in 2002 with Judith Weir and Indian storyteller Vayu Naidu and visits to the Berlin, Radio France Présences and Vienna’s Wien Modern Festivals, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal.   
BCMG is committed to engaging the widest possible range of people with its work, and runs extensive learning and audience-building programmes in pursuit of this aim. Projects with young people in and out of school and with adults in a range of community settings are complemented by free performance projects such as the Group’s popular ‘Rural Tours’, Late-Night performances and Meet-the-Composer days. BCMG broadcasts often on BBC Radio, has made TV programmes for BBC and Independent Television, and numerous CD recordings.  The relationship with NMC is particularly strong, with the recent launch of a new CD of Britten’s film music and several more discs planned.

Knussen, Oliver


Born in Glasgow in 1952, Knussen grew up near London, where his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra. It was with the LSO that he made his debut in April 1968, conducting his First Symphony in London and in Carnegie Hall, New York.  In 1970 he was awarded the first of three fellowships to Tanglewood, where he studied with Gunther Schuller. During this time he completed several works which were subsequently widely performed on both sides of the Atlantic and established his early reputation. In 1975 Knussen returned permanently to the UK.

From 1983 till 1998, Knussen was an Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, and also held posts at the Tanglewood Music Center and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 1992, with Colin Matthews, he established the Contemporary Composition and Performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in Snape.

After many years of close collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen became Music Director in 1998, and in 2002 was made Conductor Laureate. In 2006 he was appointed Artist in Association with the BCMG. Among his many awards are Honorary Memberships of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Royal Philharmonic Society, an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the 2004 Association of British Orchestras Award. In 2006 he was named the second recipient of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, USA.

He has guest-conducted in many parts of the world, including in the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. As a conductor he has recorded more than thirty CDs of contemporary music, several of which have won international awards - these include Robin Holloway's Concerto for Orchestra No.2, which won NMC's first Gramophone Award, and Maxwell Davies' opera Taverner.

He became a CBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours.

Image Credit: 
Clive Barda

Booth, Claire


Claire Booth is rapidly establishing an international reputation both in opera and in concert, in repertoire ranging from the operas of Handel and Mozart to 20th- and 21st-century scores. Recent successes include the world premiere of Oliver Knussen’s Requiem: Songs for Sue, written for her and conducted by the composer with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at the BBC Proms.

Claire Booth studied Modern History at Oxford and singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, English National Opera Studio’s Baylis Programme, and at the National Opera Studio; she has been awarded prizes including a Susan Chilcott Foundation Scholarship, the Worshipful Company of Musician’s Silver Medal and the Harold Rosenthal Award. She has also been a finalist in both the 2003 Guildhall School of Music and Drama Gold Medal Competition and the 2004 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.

She made her debuts at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh and Lucerne International Festivals, performing Knussen, John Adams, and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire conducted by Oliver Knussen, Edward Gardner and Pierre Boulez respectively. She performs regularly with the BBC Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Intercontemporain working with Edward Gardner, Zsolt Nagy, Jonathan Nott, Martyn Brabbins, Pierre-André Valade and Oliver Knussen. She has appeared on Radio 2, Radio 3 and BBC 4 in broadcasts from the Aldeburgh Festival, the BBC Proms and the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s studio concert seasons.

In the field of baroque and classical music she has performed on many of the leading European stages, and has given concerts with The King’s Consort, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Opera, the Early Opera Company and the Classical Opera Company. Other operatic performances include 1st Niece in Opera North’s critically acclaimed production of Peter Grimes, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, also for Opera North, and roles for New Chamber Opera.

As a recitalist she made her debut at the Park Lane Group series at the Purcell Room in 2001 singing works by Oliver Knussen and Elliott Carter and has since given recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Cheltenham Festival with her regular accompanist Ryan Wigglesworth. She performed for the Walton Foundation at La Mortella in Ischia with Iain Burnside, and at St. John Smith’s Square with Malcolm Martineau.

Matthews-Owen, Andrew


Following studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won numerous prizes and awards, and where he was recently elected an Associate, Andrew Matthews-Owen partners many of today's leading singers.

Recent performances include appearances and BBC Radio 3 broadcasts at the Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Warehouse and the National Portrait Gallery, with singers Patricia Bardon, Claire Booth, Anne Sophie Duprels, Helen Field, Gail Pearson, Natalya Romaniw and Nicky Spence. He has also appeared in recital with French horn player Richard Watkins, percussionist Joby Burgess and the Allegri and Brodowski string quartets.

Andrew has a passionate commitment to contemporary music. He has commissioned, and given first performances, of scores by Michael Berkeley, Charlotte Bray, Philip Cashian, Laurence Crane, Jonathan Dove, Alun Hoddinott, Simon Holt and Arlene Sierra. With Claire Booth, he was invited to appear on the final Cutting Edge Tour.

Andrew's debut CD of song cycles by Alun Hoddinott was a Recommended Recording of the Month in Gramophone, and a CD of song cycles by Jonathan Dove (Naxos) was released to critical acclaim.

Jackowska, Nicki


Nicki Jackowska’s literary career spans 40 years. She has published 12 books, worked continuously as a creative writing tutor (fiction & poetry) and frequently acts as Consultant to writers, artists and arts organisations.

Nicki has received numerous Awards. Her early career as an actress has provided a firm base for returning to theatre as a playwright and librettist. Her fiction is visual and dramatic: it has often been suggested that her novels would adapt well for stage or film.

Nicki's work has appeared in the Observer, Independent, New Statesman, Tribune, Poetry Review, London Magazine, PN Review, New Poetry (Arts Council), Chicago Tribune Magazine, Poetry Wales. She has broadcast regularly on Radio 3 &4, Meridian Television and Channel 4 The South Bank Show.

She is a Founding Member of Brighton Dome and Festival.


Charlotte Bray: At the Speed of Stillness

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Aldeburgh World Orchestra
Sir Mark Elder conductor
Lucy Schaufer mezzo-soprano
Alexandra Wood violin
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
Huw Watkins piano
Oliver Knussen conductor
Claire Booth soprano
Andrew Matthews-Owen piano

At the Speed of Stillness, commissioned by Aldeburgh World Orchestra, explores paradoxes of energy and movement: 'the hummingbird motionless as a star' (in Dora Maar's description), or the contained energy of a power station. Caught in Treetops, a violin concerto written for Alexandra Wood and BCMG, takes its inspiration from two poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Federico García Lorca, while also drawing on the relentless energy of Sonny Rollins.

Two song-cycles make explicit Bray's close relationship with poetry: Fire Burning in Snow sets three poems by Nicki Jackowska exploring desire, obsession and loss - also the subject of Songs from 'Yellow Leaves', a sequence of haikus based on Shakespeare's sonnets. The album is completed by the energetic piano quartet Replay, and Oneiroi, a dark study for piano.




‘[…] a sharp ear and a vigorous imagination. […] the music’s inventiveness and textural control are unmistakeable.’ The Sunday Times

'Charlotte Bray is now at the forefront of younger British composers … her future development can only be followed with the greatest interest’ Gramophone

‘Those who proclaim that classical music is a dead or dying art cannot have heard the music of Charlotte Bray; nor can those who lament the demise of the classical recording industry have heard the superb performances on NMC’s expertly-presented At the Speed of Stillness.’ A Voice for the Arts  

'An impressive sound ... it really pinned my ears back' Ivan Hewitt, BBC Radio 3 CD Review

‘These performances must have thrilled the composer and the recording is ideal. NMC provide all of the sung texts and Bray's notes are not too detailed but mostly illuminating. Well worth exploring.’ – Gary Higginson, Music Web International

‘Charlotte Bray’s music displays steely determination and an expansively colourful textural palette. Her NMC portrait CD supplies an abundant view of these characteristics. The title work is particularly impressive; it is filled with piquant yet often spacious harmonies, frequent juxtapositions of orchestral groupings, and lithe pacing.’ – Christian Carey

‘Charlotte Bray’s music displays steely determination and an expansively colorful textural palette. Her NMC portrait CD supplies an abundant view of these characteristics. The title work is particularly impressive; it is filled with piquant yet often spacious harmonies, frequent juxtapositions of orchestral groupings, and lithe pacing.’ – Sequenza 21


Produced in association with BBC Radio 3

Specially created for the London 2012 Festival, the Aldeburgh World Orchestra project was supported with public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and with a generous gift from General Electric on behalf of Sir William Castell. Bursaries for orchestral players were awarded by The British Council (players from Egypt, Jordan and Palestine) and by the Leverhulme Trust.

With thanks to the trusts, foundations and individuals who have invested in NMC’s Debut Discs series:

The Astor Foundation
The John S Cohen Foundation
Colwinston Charitable Trust
The Fenton Arts Trust
Nicholas and Judith Goodison
Mercers' Charitable Foundation
Stanley Picker Trust
The Radcliffe Trust
The Richard Thomas Foundation
RVW Trust
Jennifer Roslyn Wingate

& the individuals who donated through The Big Give Christmas Challenge December 2011


At the Speed of Stillness was recorded on 18 July 2012 at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk.
Recording Producer/Engineer STEVE PORTNOI

Caught in Treetops was recorded live on 26 June 2011 at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Suffolk for BBC Radio 3 and first broadcast by BBC Radio 3 in Hear & Now on 16 July 2011.
Recording Producer SAM PHILLIPS/ LES PRATT
Recording Engineer TIM ARCHER

Fire Burning in Snow, Yellow Leaves, Replay and Oneiroi were recorded on 27-28 February 2014 at St Silas Church, Kentish Town, London.
Recording Producer/ Engineer DAVID LEFEBER

Digital Editing/ Mastering DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer for NMC COLIN MATTHEWS

Cover image IDIL ATESLI / Graphic design FRANCOIS HALL

Caught in Treetops (P) 2011 BBC • At the Speed of Stillness (P) 2014 Aldeburgh Music • Fire Burning in Snow, Yellow Leaves, Replay, Oneiroi (P) 2014 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2014 NMC Recordings Ltd

Composer Editions
Catalogue number:
NMC D202
Release Date:
20 October 2014