Song Offerings (The Guardian 2020)
The Riot Ensemble unites stylistically divergent composers, all but one in their 30s, on Song Offerings: British Song Cycles (Deutschlandfunk). The title comes from a work by Jonathan Harvey (1939-2012), four settings of texts by Rabindranath Tagore full of longing, joy and the embrace of death, sung with vivid expression by soprano Sarah Dacey. Harvey’s benign spirit hovers elsewhere: Aaron Holloway-Nahum’s Plane Sailing (from a poem by Sasha Dugdale), delicate and detailed, was written shortly before Harvey’s death, and is dedicated to him: a sorrowful lament about a fading life “frail as a cloud”. Laurence Osborn’s Micrographia, in which Dacey is joined by soprano April Frederick, delights in the wondrous microscopic world of the 17th-century natural philosopher Robert Hooke (text by poet Joseph Minden). Three songs by Samantha Fernando complete this well-balanced disc.
– Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
Extinction Events (The Times 2020)
…extinction was rather the preoccupation of two of the three pieces on a bold programme by the Riot Ensemble at Kings Place, the first of three concerts they are giving there this year. Like a Memory of Birds (ii), written by their conductor, Aaron Holloway-Nahum, in 2019, was the first item, evoking bird song (of an extinct species) and bird habitat by means of deft and delicate handling of the mixed ensemble.
– Paul Driver, The Times
Extinction Events (I Care If You Listen 2020)
The Riot Ensemble’s programme made us think, but most of all it made us feel, and their performance of Lim’s Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus will stay with me for a long time.
– Caroline Potter, I Care If You Listen
Song Offerings (British Music Society 2020)
Based in London, Riot Ensemble are a chamber-sized ensemble of top instrumentalists dedicated to the promotion of new-music. The soprano Sarah Dacey is regarded as an important member of the group.
The vocalists and instrumentalists need to work at the highest level of refinement because traditional melody or harmony are not there to help find your place. Riot Ensemble and especially Sarah Dacey are certainly on top of their craft.
– Alan Cooper, British Music Society Album Review
Solstices (The Guardian 2020)
I went to this amazing performance by contemporary music group the Riot Ensemble. It’s quite a long, complicated piece and they do it in complete blackout, to the extent that they covered the fire escape sign. It was that kind of dense dark that starts to feel a bit like velvet and you feel a little claustrophobic. For a start I don’t even know how they hit or played their instruments. The music wasn’t meditative minimalism or something – it was dramatic and theatrical and really intense, hitting metal bins in complete darkness.
– Anna Meredith, The Guardian ‘On My Radar’
Speak, Be Silent (I Care If You Listen 2019)
Speak, Be Silent is a testament to Riot Ensemble’s vision and artistry. Each track on the album has a similar styling that makes the album cohesive, but the unique voices of the composers behind the music make each piece sound fresh and new. The attention to detail and the passion for new music is heard in every note of this project, and fans of the ensemble should be pleased.
– Jarrett Goodchild, I Care If You Listen
Speak, Be Silent (Limelight Magazine 2019)
These works are brought to life spectacularly by the Riot Ensemble. Its performances are uniformly excellent, combining precision with warmth, understanding and assurance. The recording is incredible – close, clean and big, uncluttered with no hint of brittleness in the upper registers – allowing the manifold sonic nuances to breathe. A most impressive release.
– Lisa MacKinney, Limelight Magazine
Speak, Be Silent (Sequenza21 2019)
The Riot Ensemble, conducted by Aaron Holloway-Nahum, plays skillfully throughout, attending to each score’s myriad details. it is worth noting that the disc’s aesthetic touches, from appealing artwork and riveting sound to an engaging liner notes essay by Tim Rutherford-Johnson, are potent reminders that a physical artifact trumps the current craze for booklet-less (information-less) and sonically compromised streaming. Speak, Be Silent is one of 2019’s best recordings and certainly one of its most culturally relevant ones as well.
– Christian Carey, Sequenza21
Riot in Dalston (London 2019)
There are many worthwhile things going on in jazz at the moment, and one of them is the collaboration with open-minded young musicians from the straight world. Last night at Cafe Oto there were two such efforts, both featuring an eight-piece contingent from the Riot Ensemble, a London-based group who might be compared, I suppose, to Berlin’s Stargaze Orchestra.
– Richard Williams, The Blue Moment
Solstices, Dark Music Days (Iceland 2019)
It could hardly be more perfect that the 2019 Dark Music Days – Iceland’s premier contemporary music festival – should have begun last Saturday in complete darkness. This was in Reykjavík’s Nordic House, where the most valiant effort had been made to block out every trace of light for The Riot Ensemble’s world première performance of Georg Friedrich Haas‘ 70-minute Solstices.
– 5 against 4 website
Luminate (London 2018)
Luminate, a series of contemporary music concerts at Kings Place, is essential for anyone who cares about the new (the next is 12 October). The inaugural concert, by the Riot Ensemble and focusing on Philip Venables, explored memory, nostalgia, greed, sex, anarchy, all in an hour. What more do you want?
– Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian
Carter Double Concerto (London 2018)
There’s something resolutely refreshing about the Riot Ensemble. “We perform music we love for anyone who wants to listen” is its tagline on Twitter. Can performing contemporary music really be that simple? Well, on this evidence, yes. This flexible group is really starting to make its mark, and I’m sure that’s down to the players’ tangible curiosity and enthusiasm.
– Rebecca Franks, The Times
Dark Music Days (Iceland 2018)
There’s a lot of buzz around this ensemble – and they didn’t disappoint. From a percussionist playing a cymbal and a xylophone with a violin bow (it sounded pretty creepy), to an oboist inhaling rather than exhaling into his instrument, Riot Ensemble showed just how versatile their instruments could be.
– Classic FM
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2017)
So what delight to find oneself swept along the luminous stream of an expertly curated programme, whose narrative began with the minutiae of sound and grew into full-blown music theatre. This was Riot Ensemble, offering a string of premieres directed with authoritative poise by Aaron Holloway-Nahum.
– Helen Wallace, Arts Desk
The Riot, MeWe360 (London 2015)
The Riot Ensemble’s dedication to showcasing new music and bringing contemporary classical stylings to new audiences in unexpected venues is to be admired, respected, and imitated at every opportunity. The chamber performance is an experience in the cyclical evolution of music performance, and isn’t to be missed.
– Angelina Panozzo, I Care If You Listen.com
The Riot, MeWe360 (London 2015)
It was a great concert with phenomenal music and well thought out programme. The setting was intimate and this made a big change to how the music was received: sitting comfortably with a drink in your hand is an inviting setting. It is a new (and yet so old) way to hear the music. Holloway-Nahum’s great insight into the composer’s ideas and thoughts (Harvey’s daughter Anna and Gieshoff himself were present too) made the music much more tangible and thought-provoking.
– Blue Flamingo Music
Les Citations (London, Cambridge, 2014)
Led by the extremely talented composer-conductor Aaron Holloway-Nahum, The Riot Ensemble are the very embodiment of young talent. Their flexible lineup comprises a seemingly endless list of brilliant young musicians…
– Laurence Osborn, Culture Whisperer
Wednesdays at the Forge (London, 2014)
Earlier this year I went to The Forge in Camden to hear The Riot Ensemble present a contemporary programme of homogenous groups. Five bass clarinets played together. Then four trombones (and a tenor voice). Best of all was a piece by US composer Amy Beth Kirsten for five bassoons: “World Under Glass No. 1”. Heard up close, this texture was amazing, the whole room buzzing with bass reeds, like a kaleidoscope of wood panelling.
– Clive Bell, The Wire
The opening night [of Wednesdays at the Forge] has two performing groups…the second a group called Riot Ensemble who live up to their name (albeit with exmplary musicianship) and are presenting a programme with the title Flatulence of the Gods: An Evening of Very Low Notes.
– Classical Music Magazine
Transatlantic Collaborations (Brighton, 2013)
4/5 Stars: “Don’t be scared of contemporary classical music, since this fantastic evening of compositions from all over the world showcased some beautiful gems. Nicholas Omiccioli’s ‘Invisible Worlds’ was ominous and enthralling, with piano parts like the sustained final chord on ‘Sgt. Pepper’ blending in with a trilling flute sublimely. György Kurtág’s ‘Signs, Games and Messages’ was another highlight, with the ‘Wailing Song’ possessing a fluidity and grace like a smoother musical saw. The night was great value for money (eight classical pieces for a tenner) so check them out when they return to Brighton if you’d like something different and striking.”
– Joe Fuller, The Latest
Songs and Haiku (The Warehouse, 2013)
“…it is a great privilege to see great friends perform together. Cronje’s rich, warm and expressive voice suited the repertoire of these international composers well. Racovicean’s absolute precision and innate musicality provided coherence and beauty in what could have been very muddy waters….There’s so much more we could say. In just an hour long concert we were given so much to ‘eat’ that we were full to bursting – but still wondering at the beauty of all consumed. Looking forward to the next one!”
– Blue Flamingo Entertainment