Introducing: Sarah Mason

6-2 - SarahPercussionist Sarah Mason is the newest member of the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble.  Sarah has consistently performed with us since our earliest days at Guildhall.  She is also the principal percussionist of the Ossian Ensemble, has toured China, Russia and America with the LPO, and played on the recording for Howard Shore’s score for ‘The Hobbit’.  Sarah will be performing in a trio of Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, including our day of multiple performances of David Bird’s Fields in unannounced parks and venues throughout London. Get to know Sarah a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a percussionist?
There have been so many…it’s hard to know where to start!  I once had to chase a 6″4 fellow off the stage whilst wearing a black executers mask and beating a drum with whips…oh, and Aaron once made me run into a pile of chairs! It hurt but it was worth it – way more fun than embarrassing.


What is the loudest instrument you know of?
Weirdly the loudest sound I’ve ever heard was sitting next to a suspended cymbal while someone did the loudest roll on earth. It was epic, but I thought my head was going to explode. Again, totally worth it.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
I can’t wait for the new commissions that come out of our Call for Scores. It’s brilliant working on a premiere with the composer. I feel like a piece is still a little bit mailable before it’s been performed/set, and it’s exciting for you to discover together what it will be like in 3D.

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?
Again, there are just so many!  Recent great Riot moments include giant breakfast butties during percussion rehearsals, watching everyone getting their rage faces on for the Riot photo shoot (perhaps I got particularly carried away…). Oh and Aaron keeps asking me how the really hard solo piece is going for the concert tomorrow… When there is no solo piece. Terrifies me every time.

Introducing: Goska Isphording

4 - GoskaHarpsichordist Goska Isphording joined the Artistic Board of The Riot Ensemble after our Les Citations projects in 2014.  Goska is one of Europe’s top contemporary specialists on the harpsichord, previously winning first prize as a soloist at the Krzysztof Penderecki International Competition of Contemporary Music 2002. Goska will be performing in two Riot Ensemble concerts in 2015, including our end of year concert, where we will premiere a new work by Jose Manuel Serrano, along with the two pieces chosen in our 2015 Call for Scores.  Get to know Goska a bit better, in her answers to our questions below.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at a harpsichord?
During a recent chamber music concert in Tallin, I was performing a piece an approached a very busy – and specifically notated passage.  Unfortunately, just before I began this, I accidentally switched off the needed registers on the harpsichord – so I ended up playing on a silent keyboard, moving my fingers all over the place with no sound.  It was some time until a suitable moment came to get my sound back!

What are you looking forward to in 2015?
So many things, new things, that’s what makes playing contemporary music so exciting! Firstly, as an Artistic Director myself, I’m looking forward to the competition and festival Prix Annelie de Man, in Amsterdam.  It’s a wonderful full week event, completely devoted to contemporary harpsichord music with special focus on presenting and promoting newly written repertoire performed by some of the world’s most talented young players.

Of course there are also all this season’s premieres: premiering new works is always like taking a journey to unknown landscapes.  And of course this is what I’m always doing in the great projects of The Riot Ensemble: seeking to bring this exciting new repertoire to the audiences with the surprising twist (see the picture above, for example…)

What is your favourite Riot Ensemble story, so far?
Definitely the Les Citations rehearsals where we had a harpsichord, double bass, soprano, oboe and an entire array of percussion (including marimba and vibraphone) in the front room of your (Aaron’s) flat!  Thankfully we had great weather those days so we could have lunch in the garden! I’m very much looking forward to the new stories of 2015!

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