Aurora Wind Quintet

Programme - 26 September 2104

Established in 1996, the Aurora Ensemble is a traditional wind quintet which also expands to work with piano, strings or to explore the repertoire for wind octet. Each of its players work regularly with some of the country’s leading orchestras and chamber ensembles.

Prizewinners at the European chamber music competition, Musique d’Ensemble held at the Paris Conservatoire in 2001, the ensemble has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and performed in many major venues including the Purcell Room and Wigmore Hall (for the Park Lane Group), Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and Cardiff’s St. David’s Hall. Each season it performs for numerous music clubs and festivals.

In 2002 the ensemble recorded its debut CD which included the first CD recording of Marin Goleminov’s Wind Quintet No.2 and the world premiere recording of Ronan Guilfoyle’s Groove Merchants. With funding from the Arts Council of Ireland, the Auroras commissioned a new work from Ronan (Under One Roof) which they premiered at the Warwick Festival in June 2004. Their second CD Humoreske was released in 2006 which featured works by Zemlinsky, Mozart, Grainger and Malcolm Arnold. Also included was music by television and film composer Jim Parker – as a result, Jim wrote a new piece for the Auroras entitled Boulevard which they premiered in November 2006. Konzertstcke is their third CD and for this recording the Auroras are joined by their long time collaborator, Joanna Smith. The Auroras are delighted to be including Roderick Elms’ Moody Moves alongside repertoire by Mozart and Mendelssohn which regularly features in their recitals for piano and winds.

Sounds Exciting is the ensemble’s own education project which runs in conjunction with their recital work. The ensemble directs its own courses for amateur musicians at Hawkwood College, Gloucestershire every Easter and summer.

Maxine Willis flute

A wind finalist in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition, Maxine read English at Brasenose College Oxford, followed by two years of postgraduate study at the Royal College of Music having received an award from the Countess of Munster Musical trust. She has given recitals at St James Piccadilly, Union Chapel Islington, and the October Gallery WC1, and performed concertos both in England and France. Maxine plays with Welsh National Opera and Kokoro and has appeared with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic.

Gwenllian Davies oboe

Gwenllian comes from Pembrokeshire and read music at Jesus College, Oxford. She continued herstudies at the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama after receiving awardsfrom the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Myra Hess Trust and the Arts Council of Wales. She is a busy freelance oboist and plays with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony and RTE Concert Orchestra. She has also worked with the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban and Teatro Marrucino Opera in Italy.

Helen Shillito horn

Helen studied at the Royal College of Music with Julian Baker, Tim Brown and natural horn with Sue Dent winning the Arthur Somervell and Manns prizes. She also spent a semester at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, studying with Adam Friedrich. Until 2010 Helen was 2nd Horn with Scottish Ballet and is currently 2nd Horn with Concerto Copenhagen and the Accademia Bizantina and has played with the ASMF, BBCSO, CLS and Northern Sinfonia. Helen especially enjoys playing natural and baroque horns with the Gabrieli Consort.

Stuart Russell bassoon

Stuart Russell graduated in 2003 from the Royal Academy of Music gaining first class honours and the Nicolas Blake Wind Ensemble Prize. After post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama he spent a year as co-principal bassoon with South Bank Sinfonia, performing with them the John Williams bassoon concerto. Stuart plays with many of the UK's leading symphony, opera and ballet orchestras, and is a member of Liquid Architecture (a mixed chamber ensemble) and of the Canteloube Wind Trio. Stuart is also professor of bassoon reed making at the Guildhall School and Trinity College of Music.

Sarah Thurlow clarinet

Sarah studied at the Royal College of Music with Robert Hill, Michael Harris and Andrew Marriner, making her concerto debut with the Philharmonia whilst still a student, and holding the College's Mills Williams Junior Fellowship. She won an English Speaking Union scholarship to attend the Aspen Music School, and later studied with the German clarinetist, Hans Deinzer, in Italy. Sarah has appeared as a soloist at London’s Purcell Room and Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, and as a chamber musician with the Wind Soloists of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Academy of Ancient Music. In 1998 Sarah founded the ensemble Contemporary Consort, specialising in the performance of works by British Composers. The group has appeared regularly at the King's Lynn Festival since 2001, and also enjoyed a special link with the RCM for ten years, supported by the Worshipful Company of Musicians and PRS for Music. As an orchestral musician Sarah has appeared in the clarinet sections of the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia and Academy of St Martin in the Fields, as well as with the orchestras of English National Opera and Glyndebourne on Tour.

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Aurora Wind Quintet