Following on from its highly acclaimed Purcell Room debut last year, The Braid Ensemble – focussing entirely on the work of composer David Braid – makes its first appearance at Hundred Years Gallery.
The players, Elliott Devivo (clarinet); Gerard Cousins (guitar); David Braid (electric guitar/mandolin); Rossitza Stoycheva (piano), are each world class virtuosi who bring their own unique musical angle to this remarkable group.
Described by Steve Reich as “Really honest stuff” Braid’s music has a uniquely lyrical and vibrant quality that engages you entirely on first hearing.
A result of strong influences ranging from Renaissance lute music to The Smiths and Sibelius – retaining a not quite pin down-able intimate familiarity – this is a music the like of which you have never heard; combining the immediacy of our time, a faint air of old school, valve-powered melancholy and an idealistic projection into the future.
Doors 7:30 | music 8pm | £8/6 (concessions)
Elliott Devivo – clarinet
Despite originally starting out his career in architecture Elliott’s passion for music soon transitioned into a freelance career performing and teaching around London and the South-East. In 2014 he received an Ann Driver Trust Scholarship and in 2015 the Trinity Laban Award to study a two year masters course in performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he studied clarinet with Michael Whight and Joan Enric Lluna.
Elliott thrives on his interest in chamber music and founded the Waldegrave Ensemble, a flexible ensemble of winds, strings and piano, which sets out to bring a wide range of works to communities outside London. After the success of their performance premiere of Matthew Taylor’s Wind Quintet at Blackheath Halls in 2016 the ensemble are now looking forward to recording their first CD featuring all his works for winds in August 2017 due for release later in the year. They are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the passing of renowned composer Jean Francaix by performing a programme featuring his Wind Quintet no.1 during 2017.
Over the past few years he has had several TV & Film appearances including SkyOne’s ‘League of their Own’ with the Sinfonia Tamesa and as part of the orchestra in the 2011 film ‘First Night’ featuring Richard E Grant and Sarah Brightman.
His previous solo performances include Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto with the Amici Orchestra, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the Waldegrave Ensemble Chamber Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s ‘Konzertstucke No. 2’ with the CLIC Sargent Charity Orchestra, Krommer’s ‘Clarinet Concerto’ with Richmond Orchestra , and Weber’s Clarinet Quintet with the Dorking Philharmonia String Section. His performances have taken him to many prestigious London venues, along with tours across Europe to Germany, Netherlands and Spain.
Elliott plays on a pair of Selmer St. Louis Clarinets and a Selmer Priviledge Bass Clarinet with mouthpieces customized by Ramon Wodkowski.
“Elliott played for my production of West Side Story. He showed outstanding concentration, dedication and skill with the demanding Reed 4 part. He played both Bass Clarinet and Baritone Sax with particular authority and character, really forming a powerful heart to the section. He also has an excellent attitude, and proves a popular colleague” – Richard Cartmale | Musical Director
Gerard Cousins – guitar
Gerard Cousins offers a classical guitar concert with a difference: His unique balance of repertoire and sense of improvisation has seen him widen the appeal of the nylon-strung guitar.
His new CD of original compositions has seen his music spread to the mainstream with plays on Sky TV, BBC Radio 6, Radio 3 & an hour long special on BBC Radio Wales. He was a recently a classical finalist on Sky TV’s ‘Guitar Star’ programme where his music was seen by a whole new audience.
A graduate of the University of Leeds and Enschede Conservatorium (The Netherlands), Gerard Cousins is a highly trained musician with a meticulous eye for detail combined with a composer’s analytical insights, yet his performances demonstrate a freedom and sense of improvisation which clearly communicates his love of music and the beautiful sound of his guitar.
He has performed in many festivals and concert halls around the world, from the Purcell Room and Milton Court in London to Europe, South America and the Middle East. He has released 4 CDs on his own record label, each one focusing on a different area of music from traditional Spanish repertoire to his original compositions and unique re-imaginings of traditional Welsh music.
His compositions have featured in films and TV and are performed by numerous other guitarists all around the world. His latest guitar arrangements of choral works by Grammy award-winning composer Eric Whitacre are due to be published by Chester Music soon.
“It is obvious that Cousins is a formidable player…hair-raisingly difficult arpeggio patterns…hypnotic arrays of patterns and harmonies…beautiful and different…wonderful creations…yet the music sounds effortless which proves what an excellent musician Cousins is,” Classical Guitar USA
“Gerard Cousins is a rare beast, a classical player who has broken free from the bounds of his training to make new music. He is technically remarkable… His nylon strings are played with precision and verve…the beauty of the tune and the playing are all that matters” HiFI+
David Braid – composer/electric guitar/mandolin
The music of Welsh, London-based composer, David Braid, has been performed internationally in Europe and the Americas and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Major UK performances include Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, King’s Place, Wilton’s Music Hall, 1901 Arts Club, amongst others.
Steve Reich said of David’s work: “Morning – Integration of voice with string quartet beautifully done – particularly first entrance. Writing for instruments is solid and sounds very good to me. Very honest stuff”.
Recordsinternational.com said in a review of David’s recent CD with Toccata Classics (David Braid: Chamber and Instrumental Music): “These recent chamber works represent the mature style of an intensely self-critical composer who acknowledges a wide diversity of enthusiasms and influences, which have been thoroughly absorbed into a personal idiom”.
David studied at The Royal College of Music from 1990-94, taking joint-first study in Composition with Edwin Roxburgh and Guitar with Charles Ramirez; also attending George Benjamin’s composition classes. David subsequently undertook postgraduate composition study with Robert Saxton at The University of Oxford (St. Anne’s College) and at The Cracow Academy of Music. Recently completed works include his 3rd Symphony.
He is also the recipient of a number of awards including The John Longmire Prize for Composition and the Jack Morrison Prize for Guitar, both at the Royal College of Music.
Recording of David’s second CD of chamber/instrumental/vocal works was released late 2017 to strong critical acclaim:
“He has a voice all of his own, however, a voice that is often intimate, revelling in whispered confidences,” Fanfare Magazine.
“… the refined simplicity of Braid’s music is really captivating and it is a real pleasure to hear music which is immediately engaging to the ear. Highly recommended,” Frances Wilson.
David’s music is published by Les Productions d’OZ and Le Luth Doré.
Rossitza Stoycheva – piano
Rossitza is an accomplished solo performer and an active chamber music player. Born in Bulgaria, Rossitza started playing the piano at the age of five; she studied at the Sofia School of Music and at eight made her debut with the Collegium Musicum Orchestra. While still at school, she won a number of competitions in France, Italy and the Czech Republic. She was also awarded a special prize from the Alex de Vries Foundation in Antwerp.
She has played a number of recitals in Germany, Spain and Belgium. Rossitza has performed as a soloist with the Bulgarian Radio Orchestra, the Antwerp Chamber Orchestra, and the Sofia State Philharmonic Orchestra and has also made recordings for the Bulgarian National Television and Radio.
Rossitza came to London in 1990, having won a scholarship for a postgraduate course at the Royal College of Music, where she studied with Phyllis Sellick and Gordon Fergus-Thompson. In 1994, Rossitza was a finalist of the BBC Radio 3 Young Artist’s Forum.
A couple of years later, Rossitza made her debut at Carnegie Weill Hall in New York and appeared with Sir Georg Solti at a gala concert in the presence of HRH Duchess of Kent.
Rossitza regularly performs as a soloist and as a piano duo with Mikako Hori. Their 2008 concert tour of Bulgaria received critical acclaim and they appeared on Bulgarian National Television as part of the Apollonia Festival.