Latest News

  • Town or Country?
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 25 Feb 2024
    BWE members are enjoying the rehearsals for its May concert. As well as works played by the whole ensemble, there will be a number of items performed by smaller groups. 

    The clarinet quartet that played at the November concert last year, has reassembled and is rehearsing a jazzy rendering of Down by the Riverside. This will feature in the second half of the programme which will be made up of music inspired by the countryside.

  • BWE members at the Chromosphere launch
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 9 Feb 2024
    As we reported, the publication of the Chromosphere CD of music for Wind Orchestra attracted plenty of attention in January.

    The collaboration between Shea Lolin, Chris Hussey and wind players of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was celebrated on Thursday 8 February at a launch event hosted by the Embassy of the Czech Republic as part of the Year of Czech Music.

    The programme featured several of the works on the CD together with Má Vast by Smetana and Prague Waltzes by Dvorák. The music was performed by the London Woodwind Orchestra with five BWE members in the ensemble.

    BWE members were also well represented in the appreciative audience.

  • 'Mozart's Pets' on Radio 3
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 10 Jan 2024
    Mozart's Pets by Judith Bingham featured in Radio 3's 'Essential Classics' on Tursday 9 January. You can hear the segment from 1:04:55 in the programme.

    In March 2023 (see below) we reported that Shea Lolin and Chris Hussey had been in Prague to record music for the woodwind orchestra by Keiron Anderson, Judith Bingham OBE, Charlotte Harding and Christopher Hussey and Kamran Ince. The pieces were performed by the woodwind section of the Czech Philharmonic.

    The recordings have now been edited and are available as a CD called Chromosphere which will be published by the the record label Divine Art (DDX 21117). on Friday 12 January.

    BBC Radio 3 chose to play two of the movements from the Judith Bingham work in its programme. This piece was the last major commission organised by Shea while he was director of music for BWE.

    Two other BBC Radio 3  programmes played  tracks from the CD over the same weekend.  You can find the details on Shea' web site.

  • Christmas music for Crisis
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 30 Dec 2023
    The charity Crisis was delighted with the outcome of our performance at St Pancras station in December.. 

    Representatives of the charity joined us to shake collecting boxes and wave card readers. They thoroughly enjoyed our music and have now reported that the total amount collected came to £1174.08. This meant that the event resulted in one of the best collections for Crisis in 2023.

  • Big Christmas Wind Orchestra and Choir
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 10 Dec 2023
    Members of the Bloomsbury Music Group braved the rain to join the annual performance of the Big Christmas Wind Orchestra and Choir at Coal Drops Yard. The programme of seasonal music was played without rehearsal but sounded amazingly convincing. There was a good audience throughout and the sun shone by the end of the afternoon.

    Big Christmas Wind Orchestra and Choir at Coal Drops Yard
  • BWE concert rehearsals
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 4 Oct 2023
    Members of BWE are enjoying our autumn rehearsals at St George's Bloomsbury in preparation for the November concert. As well as the pieces for the full ensemble we have started rehearsing pieces for smaller groups including: Danzas Latinas for bass clarinet duet and Carol of the Bells for Clarinet quarter (shown in practice below).

  • Bandstand concert rained off
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 22 Jul 2023
    Heavy rain made it impossible for BWE to perform its programme at the bandstand in St James Park. Members have greatly enjoyed rehearsing the programme and so were very disappointed that it was impossible to play.

    Members now look forward to restarting rehearals in September for the November concert with the theme of 'Looking Forward'.

  • A new role for BWE's Director of Music
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 14 Jul 2023
    Members of BWE congratulate Michael on his recent promotion to captain when taking over responsibility for the Countess of Wessex String Orchestra.

    Based in Woolwich, the orchestra's main roles include performing for investitures and ceremonies at the Royal households, including state banquets and dinners

    As reported on the orchestra's Facebook page,  Michael has already conducted the orchestra in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and The Palace Of Holyrood House.

    Now Michael is looking forward to conducting the orchestra at various concerts covering a wide range of repertoire.
  • Music in the vineyard
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 2 Jul 2023
    The clouds cleared and the sun showed its face as we all arrived in Eridge for our concert at Wildwood Vineyard. The strategic deployment of sun screen, sun hats, and plenty of parasols was welcome to the players and audience, as was the access to cold wine provided for purchase by Paul Oldwood - one of the Bloomsbury Band's clarinet players and owner of the vineyard! We performed songs with outdoorsy themes from our backlog, such as:
    • A selection of Tea Dances: a tango, fox trot, waltz, and charleston
    • Quand Je Bois: a crowd favourite with intermingling melodies
    • Norwegian Dance 2 (from 4) by Edvard Grieg - aka Opus 35, no. 2
    • King's Hunt, where both clarinets and flutes (woodwind instruments) were encouraged to sound like a brass ensemble
    • Wildwood Waltz, a piece composed and arranged by our Music Director following our first concert at Wildwood in 2021
    • A selection of sea songs set by Roger Cawkwell, a longtime collaborator of the band
    • We'll Gather Lilacs by Ivor Novello, from the Perchance To Dream musical
    • Leave Her Johnny, arranged for the band by Sarah Beardon - one of our flute players!
    • Song of the Blacksmith by Gustav Holst, enthusiastically accompanied on the anvil by Paul Oldwood himself
    • Feed the Birds, written by the Sherman Brothers for Mary Poppins
    • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with brief solos for a siren, car horn, whistle, and vibraslap
  • BWE charity concert supports dementia research
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 15 May 2023
    Image of a brainBWE has a tradition of raising money for charity at some of its concerts.

    To celebrate its 30th anniversary the ensemble decided to use the money raised by its 'Looking Back' concert,to support University College London's Dementia Research Centre. The research focuses on identifying and understanding dementia, as well as trying to find ways to improve diagnosis and treatments.

    Thanks to a generous audience BWE is sending fractionally under £1000 to this charity.
  • A Big Thank-you to Kim
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 14 May 2023
    Kim at the BWE May 2023 concertKim has served brilliantly as BWE's events coordinator for over 10 years. She has sought out great venues for our concerts, such as St James's Church in Sussex Gardens where we performed yesterday.

    The smooth running of concerts depends on careful advance planning, attention to many details and the ability to motivate members of the ensemble to contribute so that the work is shared around in manageable ways. Kim has demonstrated all these qualities and more.

    Now that Kim is stepping down from the role, we took the opportunity to thank her for all her hard work at the end of another very successful concert. Our chair, Colin, paid tribute to her for all that she has done for us.
  • A successful adventure in Prague
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 15 Mar 2023

    Our former director of music, Shea Lolin was in Prague last weekend for recording sessions with the woodwind section of the Czech Philharmonic. They recorded music for the woodwind orchestra by Keiron Anderson, Judith Bingham OBE, Charlotte Harding and Christopher Hussey and Kamran Ince (see our previous news item).

    Christopher Hussey was present as Producer;;he was joined by Engineer Jonas Persson and Colin Izod who filmed the recording sessions. Colin is Chair of BWE.

    All the music recorded had been commissioned by BWE and we are looking forward to listening to the album when it is available.

    As it celebrates its 30 anniversary, BWE will be playing these works: Alice in Wonderland by Keiron Anderson, Mozart’s Pets by Judith Bingham OBE, Twisted Skyscape by Chris Hussey and The Infernal Train by Shea Lolin as part of its ‘Looking Back’ concert in May this year.

  • Shea Lolin to record second woodwind orchestra album with the Czech Philharmonic.
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 23 Jan 2023
    Former Musical Director of the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble, Shea Lolin, is due to record an album of woodwind orchestra music in March 2023 with the woodwind section of the Czech Philharmonic in their residence, the Dvorák Hall. The repertoire to be recorded has been curated from Shea’s tenure with BWE (2005–2021), which includes four commissions which the group gave the premiere performances of.
    A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise funds alongside other grant applications. BASBWE has been publicly acknowledged for their financial support.  

    One of the UK’s most influential wind advocates, Dr Timothy Reynish MBE, has offered his support to the campaign, describing it as “one of the most exciting projects on at present”. One of the composers whose work will be recorded, Judith Bingham OBE said “This recording is really great news. It will be a real treat to have such first-rate professionals playing, that happens so rarely with windband music.”

    You can read more about the project and support at:

    Shea Lolin with Czech Philharmonic
  • The Chairman Dances
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 28 Nov 2022
    The BWE Transformations concert in November 2022, featured a performance of The Chairman Dances, This is a work for an ensemble of reed instruments: two clarinets, two alto saxes with bassoon and contrabassoon accompanying a solo line on bass clarinet.

    This work was composed by BWE's former director of music, Shea Lolin, as a tribute to Andrew Hunt who had been chair of the ensemble for 12 years but continues to play bass clarinet as a member of BWE.

    As Shea explains, the solo bass clarinet part in the work is designed to contrast to the other parts. The line is legato and song-like against a baclground of staccato chords. The eight-bar phrase is interrupted and puncutated with diversions and discordant snorts. The Chair brings the group back together again in the final section with a uniting and memorable tune.

    The image below shows Andrew and BWE's director of music just after the performance of the piece.

  • All change at the BMG AGM
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 2 Jul 2022
    The Bloomsbury Music Group's AGM on Tuesday 28 June led to changes in the way the ensembles will be run from now on.

    Andrew was delighted to be given a new composition by Shea Lolin, our former director of music as he stepped down from being chair after 12 years, 

    CalledThe Chairman Dances, this is a work for an ensemble of reed instruments: two clarinets, two alto saxes with bassoon and contrabassoon accompanying a solo line on bass clarinet (the instrument that Andrew plays).

    This new piece of music was a gift from members of the group. They also presented Andrew with a signed copy of the first page of the score.

    In future the committee with responsibility for running the BMG charity will be chaired by Chris. Liz continues as chair of the committee that runs the Bloosmbury Band while Colin is now the chair of the committee overseeing the activities of the Bloosmbury Woodwind ensemble.

  • Two directors of music - and a new composition for BWE
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 15 May 2022
    We were delighted that Shea Lolin (left in the image), our former director of music, was able to attend our May 2022 concert. conducted by our new director of music, Michael McGowan (right).

    Shea had devised the programme of train music before the pandemic in 2020. Only now were we able to perform this intriquing programme. At that time Shea felt that a slightly different voice was needed in the programme to contrast with other works based round train rhythms. He took his inspiration from the video game, Alice: Madness Returns which features the infernal train. The train is a huge, fiery and truly horrifying locomotive. This led to his new composition, The Infernal Train, which is rhythmic, fast and bold.
  • Take the 'A' Train
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 12 Apr 2022
    Take the 'A' Train
    BWE is looking forward to its May 14th concert:: 'On the Right Track'. This evening, Michael, our new director of music was practising a version of 'Take the A Train' with a sax quartet that will be included in the programme.

    The main rehearsal went well too. We are enjoying Chris Hussey's potpourri from the 1974 film score: 'Murder on the Orient Express'.
  • BWE's new director of music
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 1 Feb 2022
    BWE is delighted to  announce that Michael McGowan has been appointed as director of music for the ensemble. He held his first rehearsal at St George's Bloomsbury on Tuesday 1 February 2022. Details of Michael's musical career are given  on the page of about our 'Music Directors' under 'About'.
  • Goodbye party for Shea
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 7 Dec 2021
    Shea is leaving BWE and we are going to miss him.

    Members of BWE gathered in Coram Band Room - their former rehearsal venue - to share memories of the 16 years that Shea has been our director of music

    Shea was presented with a new conducting baton and a book of memories. Images in the book came from the BWE on-line archive. The text was a series of quotes from members describing favourite moments from their time with the ensemble.

    Shea was invited to cut the most amazing cake that had been commissioned by the ensemble for the occasion.

  • While we were out ....
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 6 Dec 2021

    The Bloomsbury Band presented an exceptional concert at Lumen on the 4th of December 2021. There was a richness and warmth to the sound world created by this ensemble of flutes and clarinets 

    The programme featured six concert premieres and a great variety of works composed or arranged by David Morris (music director), by Roger Cawkwell and by members of the ensemble. 

    CollaBBorate, as its name suggests, was a group creation composed cooperatively by nine member of the Band.

    In two of the items, Sophie put down her flute to charm the audience with her soprano voice by singing works by Berlioz and Mozart.

    See our past performqnces page for more details.

  • BWE in a concert of musical quotations
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 28 Nov 2021
    This was the last BWE concert directed by our longstanding director of music, Shea Lolin.  Details of the programme are described in our 'past events' page. For the first time we played at St James Church, Clerkenwell which proved to be a very congenial venue.

    We welcomed back Margaret Moore to be the narrator in Martin Ellerby's Sinfonia Aqua. This was a work that we commissioned in 2015 when Margaret was the origianl narrator in the first performance. In the same piece, Helen Russell took on the role of percussionist to play the tubular bells and foghorn.

    At very short notice, the concert had been delayed a week because the Covid virus got to our MD in an untimely way. Sadly this meant that some of our players who had attended the rehearsals were not available. Some good friends of Shea and BWE joined in to make the concert a success including Alex Maden, Adele Gordon, Bethany Pearson and Anthony Bailey.
    BWE performing in November 2021


  • BWE November concert delayed
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 15 Nov 2021
    Thanks to Covid infections we unfortunately have to delay our November concert by a week to Saturday 27 November. The programme and venue are unchanged.
  • A new Director of Music for BWE
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 18 Oct 2021
    Led by Shea Lolin, the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble has thrived as a wind orchestra. We are now seeking to appoint a new director of music because the time has come for Shea to move on after nearly 16 years.

    You can download here a document giving more information about BWE and the role of director of music.

    The closing date for applications is Friday 12 November.

    We will interview selected applicants on Tuesday 30 November.

    Shorlisted candidates will be asked to conduct an audition rehearsal on a Tuesday evening in January 2022.
  • An Isolated Event - in a time of lockdown
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 2 May 2020

    On Saturday 2 May, David Morris, music director, orchestrated an on-line concert to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Bloomsbury Band. The programme included pre-recorded items skilfully edited together from individual performances in the players' own homes. One example was the Song of the Blacksmith by Gustav Holst (as shown in the image above) with improvised anvil.

    Other items were cleverly devised to be played live allowing for the inevitable and variable delays in the sounds experienced when using software such as Zoom. These works included Latent Potential composed by David Morris and Retune devised by Alison Henning to weave together improvisations by members of the Band.

    In between the main items in the programme, there was a musical quiz in which audience members were invited to identify the theme tunes of films played by individual members of the band.

    There were several duets too, including an Andante from a Teleman Sonata with both parts played by Kiran Barhey. The image below shows Helen Ahlfors and Erica Masala playing Konzertstück, Op. 114 no. 2 by Mendelssohn.

    At the end of the concert, members of the audience were invited to join the Band members on screen for a well-deserved round of applause.  The Band estimates that between 150 and 200 people were in the audience based on the number of logins to the event, some on behalf of several people. This is a record for the Band.  Many attendees - friends and family of the Band - were seeing it perform for the first time, as attending the London concerts is not a possibility. This was particularly special.  As a result, the Band will explore ways to livestream future concerts.

    This was a charity concert that raised £260 for the Trussell Trust via Just Giving.

  • All rehearsals and events cancelled
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 18 Mar 2020
    You will understand that we have had to cancel all rehearsals and concerts until further notice for both the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble and the Bloomsbury Band.

    We are all looking forward to making music together again as soon as it is possible.

    We hope to welcome you to performances by our two ensembles later in the year.

  • Celebrating a tenth anniversary
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 26 Feb 2020

    The Bloomsbury Band is 10 years old.  The Band had planned a celebratory concert for Saturday 2 May 2020. Former members of the Band were invited to come and play with the ensemble. The concert has had to be postponed. When possible, the programme will include new music for flute and clarinet choir which music director, David Morris, has commissioned new pieces for from four composers.

    Ten years ago the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble was well established. The length of the waiting list for clarinet and flute players had grown so long that the committee wondered what to do about it - bearing in mind that one of our objectives has always been to provide opportunities to play and perform for as many wind players as possible. After a good deal of debate we decided to go ahead and set up a second ensemble which began life as a flute and clarinet choir which we called BWE2.

    David and the members of the Band have made a great success of the venture over the last ten years. We have no regrets about the decision to go ahead. The image shows BWE2 (as it then was) performing at Lumen URC in December 2013.

  • A new commission for the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble
  •  Date Posted: Wed, 12 Feb 2020

    Shea Lolin has commissioned the British composer Judith Bingham OBE to write a new work for the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble.

    This new work for woodwind orchestra will be the thirteenth work to be commissioned by the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble. Shea Lolin writes: “Judith Bingham’s compositional voice is unique and distinctive. Her harmonies are bold but not abstract. She writes phrases which are so naturally contoured and coloured with those daring and sumptuous harmonies. It will be a great privilege to work with a composer of such prominence on my lifelong fascination and dedication to the woodwind orchestra.”

    Born in Nottingham in 1952, Judith Bingham studied composing and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she was awarded the 1971 Principal’s Prize. Her commissions include works for King’s College (Cambridge), Sarah Connolly and Tenebrae, the King’s Singers, the Sacconi Quartet, the BBC Philharmonic and many British cathedrals. In 1983, she joined the BBC Singers for whom she became Composer in Residence in 2004. She has written 15 pieces for them, and four works for the BBC Proms. Judith Bingham was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Aberdeen University in 2017, has won four British Composer Awards and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to music.

    The new work will be performed as part of BWE's 2021 season of concerts.

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