The UK’s first women and non-binary orchestra, Her Ensemble, will make their debut at Battersea Arts Centre, celebrating over 2000 years of female composers. The concert, entitled Forgotten in History, will take place in the iconic venue’s spectacular Grand Hall on Friday 17 September at 8pm. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit bac.org.uk/her-ensemble
Consisting of like-minded colleagues stemming from the European Union Youth Orchestra, Her Ensemble brings together some of the most in-demand orchestral and chamber musicians in the UK, reinventing the classical concert experience and canon of classical music as we know it.
Her Ensemble is the brain child of classically trained violinist and arranger Ellie Consta. With feet in the worlds of both classical and pop, her reflections during lockdown led her to question many of the norms surrounding classical music and the industry. In 2019-2020 only 3.6% of the classical music pieces programmed worldwide were written by women. Last year that figure was just 5% – the highest percentage recorded to date, while some of the world’s most renowned orchestras only started admitting female musicians as recently as 2003.
Combining aspects from both classical and pop scenes, the mould-breaking group will perform a range of music by women, whilst doing away with rigid rules and traditions, allowing drinks in, interacting with the audience, making use of sophisticated lighting, ditching standard dress codes, and with no piece lasting longer than 5 minutes.
The gig will include music by Price, Morley, Bacewicz, Valverde, Shaw, Meredith and Montgomery, as well as a UK premier and Her Ensemble’s own arrangements of Bingen, Mahler and Boulanger. Guest appearances will feature BBC Young Musician string finalist Elodie Chousmer-Howelles, award-winning film composer Alexandra Hamilton-Ayres and singer-songwriter Caitlyn Scarlett.
Since forming in November 2020, Her Ensemble have already been featured by Scala Radio and Help Musicians UK, released their debut single, recorded a feature film score for Melt The Fly, and collaborated with Pixie Lott in partnership with the Body Shop UK for the charity End Youth Homelessness. The group seeks to positively impact the gender-gap and stereotypes in the industry, whilst making music by women accessible to all.
The magnificent surroundings of Battersea’s former Town Hall have long provided a safe and inspiring space for people fighting for equality. Since the building opened in 1893, it has hosted activists, artists and communities working towards radical change in society – from John Archer’s inauguration as London’s first Black mayor in 1913, to rallies led by suffragists like Charlotte Despard, or last year’s relaunch of Battersea Arts Centre into a more inclusive and accessible cultural hub as the world’s first Relaxed Venue.