Today it is a real pleasure to announce that Riot Ensemble has been awarded one of the first ever Ernst von Siemens Ensemble Prizes. I joined Riot in 2016 on the invitation of its director Aaron Holloway-Nahum, becoming a member of the group’s Artistic Board and its in-house writer. That’s still quite a rare role within any new music ensemble, but I took it at the time as an indication of the seriousness of Aaron’s vision for the group, to turn Riot – which was, then, still essentially an ensemble of recent graduates playing gigs in churches – into a leading international ensemble for new music. That faith has been repaid. To be part of Riot’s journey from then up to this major recognition has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my musical life. Working with professionals of this talent, energy and accomplishment has been a unique privilege.
It was a Riot concert that bookended my pre-lockdown concert-going life, and I couldn’t have wished for a happier or more enriching event on which to pause. Since then and in response to the Covid-19 emergency, we have been commissioning, performing and video-releasing new solo works for individual members of the group in conjunction with Zeitgeist, hcmf//, BBC Radio 3, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, PRS for Music and the University of Southampton. To see videos of all the works we have commissioned in this series so far, as well as interviews with every composer, please see our YouTube page.
This Friday, however, you can hear the ensemble play together again as part of the Wien Modern festival. Riot will be playing new commissions by two of my favourite composers, Clara Iannotta (They left us grief-trees wailing at the wall) and Chaya Czernowin (Fast Darkness I: I can see your turned eyes from inside your body), as well as Ann Cleare’s wonderful, fragile piano trio 93 million miles away. The concert will be live-streamed at https://www.wienmodern.at/ on Friday evening, and also features interviews (by me) with the composers. The whole thing will be available for seven days, free of charge. Please join us to share in the celebrations.