English Serenata includes distinguished musicians drawn from major orchestras throughout the country. Its chamber concert programmes range from three to fifteen artists. The very successful larger programmes feature leading Royal Shakespeare Company actors and TV and Radio personalities as narrators, including John Nettles, Robert Powell, Jenny Agutter, Richard Baker, Angela Rippon and David Jacobs. Lady Walton enjoys the flamboyant role of soloist in our performances of Façade, conducted by Guy Woolfenden, which we toured with Henry V to the Lebanon to celebrate Walton’s centenary year.
A six-year residency at the University of Wolverhampton has allowed the ensemble to develop many exciting smaller programmes, both classical and contemporary. English Serenata has recorded and commissioned pieces from composers including Thea Musgrave, Howard Blake, Guy Woolfenden, Edward Watson, Rory Boyle and Ilona Secacz, as well as students and staff from the university. It has developed music theatre and puppet projects with school children countrywide, including The Pied Piper, Dahl Stew and a mammoth choral project featuring the late Jon Pertwee and The All-Electric Puppet Theatre. A jazz collaboration, touring with New Perspectives, has been a great success.
Imaginatively themed programmes give audiences a chance to hear unexpectedly attractive pieces which always provoke welcome response. “A Night in Old Vienna” includes Mahler as well as Strauss, evoking surprised pleasure in new listeners (and perhaps earning the whole ensemble drinks at the bar from one anonymous visitor from the US recently!). The Thuille Sextet gives delight to audiences who come to hear the Mozart Quintet and discovered this sunny Austrian composer who admired Brahms.
The ensemble’s concerts are never dull.
Venues countrywide and abroad include Prague Castle, The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, The Barbican Theatre and Buckingham Palace, by invitation of HRH the Prince of Wales, music societies, theatres and festivals.
English Serenata has broadcast on BBC and Independent radio and television, including an award-winning Yorkshire TV Calendar film on the blind Dales poet Margaret Buckle. Its wide repertoire of music for Shakespeare productions has prompted many TV appearances in Great Britain and a prime time Czech TV film of Sweet Swan of Avon in St. George’s Basilica in Prague! John Nettles, who has also taken the ensemble to Jersey to perform Henry V, starred on this British Council Tour.
Current CDs include the internationally acclaimed Sweet Swan of Avon,
(music from the Royal Shakespeare Company archives)
New Perspectives and Jacqueline Dankworth “A E Housman Centenary”
“outstanding British Jazz CD release of 1996” (Sunday Times).
Gabrielle entered the Royal Manchester College of Music as a Junior Exhibitioner and studied flute with Peter Lloyd, Geoffrey Gilbert and, at the Royal College of Music, Douglas Whittaker. She won the Pinson Prize for Bach playing and was sponsored in Leonard Pearcey’s Young Artists series for her Purcell Room debut. Solo appearances at that time ranged from Malcolm Arnold’s first flute concerto in the Queen Elizabeth Hall to several repeat performances of Flight of the Bumble Bee on ITV.
She became resident flautist at the University of Leeds, in the full-time wind quintet and Aulos Ensemble, since when she has performed and broadcast in chamber music and as a soloist, appearing in many of the major concert halls and festivals. She has freelanced with orchestras including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, English National Opera and CBSO as well as appearing many times on and off-stage as a musician with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
She now directs English Serenata, a group of versatile musicians drawn from all over Britain, recognised countrywide and abroad for their exciting and innovative chamber music performances and recordings, often with leading actors from the RSC.