After 35 years at the forefront of British chamber music, the Schubert Ensemble have decided that this will be their last season. The Ensemble leaves behind a significant legacy, and can look back on many memorable highlights. Touring has taken them to major venues in cities such as Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles and Amsterdam, but also to many extraordinary and unlikely venues in countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, Malaysia, Malta and Lebanon, to name but a few. In 1998 their contribution to music in the UK was recognised with Royal Philharmonic Society’s best chamber group award, for which they were shortlisted again in 2010.
Commissioning has always been an important part of the Ensemble’s work, and they have established ongoing relationships with many of the UK’s leading composers. Their final major commission, by Judith Weir, will be their 50th and will be premiered at Wigmore Hall in March 2018. These pieces sit alongside over 45 shorter works that were commissioned through the Ensemble’s Chamber Music 2000 project for young and amateur musicians. As well as creating this groundbreaking education project, the Ensemble have always prioritised working with young musicians, and have carried out over 500 workshops with young musicians both in this country and around the world, as well as having had residencies at Bristol University, Wiltshire Music Centre, the Hall for Cornwall, Cardiff University, and Birmingham Conservatoire.
In the recording studio the Ensemble has produced over 25 critically acclaimed CDs of repertoire ranging from Brahms and Mendelssohn through to John Woolrich and Judith Weir. Recently the Ensemble has been adding to its recorded legacy with a series of live filmed concerts that can be found on its YouTube channel. Always searching out new and interesting repertoire, the Ensemble have championed previously neglected masterpieces by composers such as Enescu, Martinu, Chausson, Farrenc, Korngold and Vaughan Williams, as a result of which these works are now more widely played.
This farewell season, which ends with a final concert on 30th June, has seen the Ensemble return to many favourite venues, giving opportunities for its five members, unchanged for 23 years, to say thank you and goodbye to the many good friends they have made over the lifetime of the Ensemble.