Ensemble Paramirabo @ Southampton

by postgraduate Music student Harry Matthews.


For the first composition workshop of this academic year, the University was joined by a group of musicians from Canada named Ensemble Paramirabo. The group flew to Southampton from Montreal – giving a workshop on three new pieces following their performance at the Music Department Monday Lunchtime Professional Concert Series featuring a new work by Lecturer in Composition Benjamin Oliver, The Circus Animals’ Desertion.

After arriving into London and having a whistle-stop tour of the city, the ensemble travelled to Southampton and began preparing for the concert – despite suffering from pretty severe jet lag. The concert was very well received with a great turn-out for the first concert this academic year. Ben’s piece was extremely challenging to play (for all the right reasons) and the ensemble produced a marvellous display of virtuosity both individually and collectively. You can watch the performance of Ben’s piece here: https://youtu.be/yuNafCdRlkg

In the workshop Ensemble Paramirabo played three postgraduate pieces by:

Millie Aldridge – Places of Workshop
Millie’s piece focused on the ornate subtleties of motif and gesture, exploring sound structures reminiscent of Buddhist traditions. Millie’s composition pays particular attention to the sounds of the shakuhachi flute – this influence was particularly prominent in this new work.


Olly Sellwood n/a
Olly’s creative use of technology has, to my mind, founded a wholly new aural experience with instruments that are normally so instantly recognisable. One particularly intuitive idea Olly used was to make a sampled ‘second’ piano so that he could produce the sounds of a prepared piano – think John Cage – but with the benefits of having these techniques on an electronic medium.

And myself – actively listening to me
My piece asked musicians to be put into pairs. Each player was given an inactive and active part. I offered a set of parameters that meant the musicians would swap between these parts. I hoped to achieve an aurally captivating sound world, where the listener could dip into the sonic interpretations of each pair. In recent days I have been very fortunate to hear that Ensemble Paramirabo has selected actively listening to me as one of two compositions by UK emerging composers to be performed in Montreal on Nov. 22, 2016 at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur. http://www.ensembleparamirabo.com/en/index.php

The next workshop is happening on the 28th of November with Ensemble Nikel, and I really recommend that everybody comes along to listen to new works by our students here at Southampton.