Counterpoise is a highly acclaimed ensemble consisting of some of the most sought-after instrumentalists in the UK. It was formed in 2008 to give the first performances of a new work, On the Edge, commissioned from the outstanding young English composer Edward Rushton, with text by Dagny Gioulami and visuals by Syl Betulius. Its programmes cross musical genres and explore the relationship between music, poetry and visual elements, seeking also to develop aspects of narrative and other extra-musical influences.
The unconventional line-up of violin, trumpet, saxophone and piano enables composers to create new soundworlds and to experiment with challenging fusions of music, text and visuals. The ensemble went on to commission a second work from Rushton, Pandora - Organic Machine, and several others from leading composers. These included three commissions from John Casken (Deadly Pleasures, Kokoschka's Doll and The Shackled King), as well as works from David Matthews (Actaeon), Charlotte Bray (Soft City), Russell Hepplewhite (Urban Abstract), Jean Hasse (scores for the silent films The Fall of the House of Usher, Ghosts Before Breakfast, Arthème Swallows his Clarinet and The Devilish Tenant) and Ross Lorraine (Not More Lovely). Other notable works in the ensemble's repertory include HK Gruber's Expulsion from Paradise, Walton's Façade, Britten's Cabaret Suite and works by Piazzolla, Mauricio Kagel, Heiner Goebbels, as well as melodramas by Strauss, Grieg and Liszt.
Counterpoise has been privileged to work with such acclaimed artists as Sir John Tomlinson, Susan Bullock, Sir Willard White, Eleanor Bron, Donald Maxwell, Rozanna Madylus and the late Richard Angas and has appeared at the Cheltenham, Buxton, Wimbledon, Brighton, Deal, Petworth and Newbury Festivals, as well as other significant venues up and down the country including Kings Place, London, Holywell Music Room (Oxford) and St George's Brandon Hill
The ensemble is proud to have been supported by such bodies as Arts Council England, PRS for Music, the Holst, Steegmann, John S. Cohen and Tippett foundations, the RVW and Ida Carroll trusts and a number of generous individuals to all of whom we are enormously grateful.
'delivered by Counterpoise with aplomb', The Times
'weird and wonderful', The Independent
'crisply narrated ... and deftly played', The Independent on Sunday
Reviews of Kokoschka's Doll/The Art of Love
'Tomlinson's bass lustre is powerfully combined with the atmospheric and pungent timbres of Counterpoise, featuring violin, trumpet, clarinet/saxophone and piano - a miniature orchestra in itself... For its ambition and general achievement, this is an album worth cheering.' The Times
'Gustav Mahler's music slips into Casken's brilliantly effective score, and Tomlinson 'speech-sings' his part with vibrant robustness.' Sunday Times
Winner of the 2018 BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award, violinist Fenella Humphreys enjoys a busy career combining chamber music and solo work. Her playing has been described in the press as 'amazing' (The Scotsman) and 'a wonder' (IRR). A champion of new and unknown music, a number of eminent British composers have written for Fenella, including a set of six new solo violin works by composers including Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Sally Beamish and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. She has been fortunate to record these over two critically acclaimed CDs for Champs Hill Records, both chosen by BBC Music Magazine as Instrumental Disc of the Month with five-star reviews, and the second also picked as Editor's Choice in Gramophone magazine. Her teachers have included Sidney Griller CBE, Itzhak Rashkovsky, Ida Bieler and David Takeno, studying at the Purcell School, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule in Düsseldorf graduating with the highest attainable marks.
'A superb recital by the notable trumpeter Deborah Calland'
(Malcolm Miller, Musical Opinion)
Deborah Calland has given trumpet and organ recitals in the USA, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, as well as venues throughout the United Kingdom, and has performed concertos with, among others, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Virtuosi di Kuhmo (Finland) and the Britten Sinfonia. She has also appeared as a recitalist at many of the major festivals in England, such as the Cheltenham and City of London.
She has a special interest in contemporary music and has played an active role in increasing the repertoire for the instrument, receiving the award of the ARAM in recognition of her achievement. Compositions have been written for her by the British composers Hugh Wood, Robin Holloway, Sally Beamish, Diana Burrell, Jonathan Dove, Huw Watkins, Rhian Samuel, and John Hawkins, as well as the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara and Bent Lorentzen from Denmark. She has also given British premieres of works by Peter Sculthorpe and Aulis Sallinen. A CD of contemporary British music for trumpet and organ, recorded by Deux-Elles at Douai Abbey with organist William Whitehead, was released in 2006 to critical acclaim.
Kyle Horch is one of Britain's leading saxophonists. He studied with Frederick Hemke at Northwestern University in Chicago, and with Stephen Trier at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. As a student and young professional musician, he won prizes at numerous competitions in Britain, Europe, and the USA. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, British and World Saxophone Congresses, and many other venues in Britain and abroad. His recordings ChamberSax, AngloSax, and Flotilla have received international praise from reviewers. He has performed with many ensembles including Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, his own ensemble Flotilla and the Piccadilly Dance Orchestra. He is saxophone professor at the Royal College of Music in London, and has given masterclasses in Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia and the USA.
Sebastian Wybrew was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music with Andrew Ball, Nigel Clayton and John Blakely, and has been described by the Daily Telegraph as being 'out of the top drawer of young musicians'. Since attending the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh he has performed as part of the Britten-Pears Orchestra and has given Lieder recitals at the Aldeburgh, Petworth and Sherbourne festivals, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Académie Européenne de Musique, Festival d'Orpheus et Bacchus in Bordeaux and the Victoria International Arts Festival in Gozo.
He has given recitals with Dame Felicity Lott, Ian Bostridge and Christopher Maltman among others. His longstanding duo with soprano Sophie Bevan has led to recitals throughout the UK and Europe and their programme Songs of Vain Glory was recorded on the Wigmore Hall Live label.
As a multi-genre chamber musician, orchestral pianist and music director, Yshani has performed at venues including Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Barbican Theatre and various West End Theatres. She has performed at events including the Oxford Lieder Festival, Kammer Klang and Live at the London Palladium and with such varied artists as City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Mahogany Opera and Nina Conti.
Yshani was winner of the 10th Yamaha Birmingham Accompanist of the Year Award. She was a scholar at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under John Barstow, Caroline Palmer and Andrew West. She is now a member of staff at GSMD on the academic faculty.
Russell Hepplewhite is a pianist and composer becoming widely known for his operatic, musical theatre and choral music. His ground-breaking operas commissioned by English Touring Opera for young audiences have been widely performed, and have won him much critical acclaim. Russell's choral works are published by Banks Music Publications and Oxford University Press. He is the composer in residence with the Arcubus Ensemble and his first musical Moonfleet was premiered at the Salisbury Playhouse in April 2018. Autumn 2019 saw two new opera premieres and an international production of Laika The Spacedog opening at the Nouvel Opera Switzerland. Laika the Spacedog toured the UK extensively as part of the ETO national tour and was featured in European Opera Day and on BBC 2's Stargazing Live.