The Nash Ensemble was founded in 1964 and has built up a remarkable reputation as one of Britain's best known chamber groups and, through the dedication of its founder and Artistic Director, Amelia Freedman, and the calibre of its players, it has gained a similar reputation all over the world. The repertoire is vast, and the innovative and unusual programmes are as finely architectured as the beautiful Nash terraces in London from which the group takes its name.
Not that the group is classically restricted - it performs with equal sensitivity and musicality works from Mozart to the avant-garde. Indeed, the Nash Ensemble is one of the major contributors towards the recognition and promotion of many leading young composers, giving no less than 200 premieres, including 71 commissions.
An impressive collection of recordings illustrates well the same varied and colourful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known gems and important contemporary works. Recordings receiving high acclaim include the chamber music of Beethoven, Ravel, Shostakovich, Debussy, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Simon Holt, and, as part of a continuing British composers series for Hyperion, Arnold Bax and Constant Lambert. Recent recordings include chamber works of Fauré and Benjamin Britten.
The Nash makes many foreign tours: concerts have been given throughout Europe, the USA, in South America, Israel and Japan. The group is a regular visitor to all the major British music festivals; it is heard on radio, television, at the BBC proms, on the South Bank, at music clubs throughout the country and at the Wigmore Hall where its regular series have been enthusiastically welcomed.
In 1989 the Nash Ensemble won the Royal Philharmonic Society/Charles Heidsieck Champagne Award for "the breadth of its taste and its immaculate performance of a wide range of music". It won the Critics' Award for its performances and programmes at the 1990 Edinburgh International Festival as well as the Wavendon Allmusic Ensemble Award. In January 1994 the Ensemble was a finalist in the International Classical Music Awards 'Chamber Group of the Year'.
During 1994/95 the Nash Ensemble presented a series entitled 'A Golden Age of French Music' at Wigmore Hall; a fourth 20th-century music series at the Purcell Room which included six premières; toured Israel, India, Germany and Colombia and was resident at Princeton University, USA. The group undertook an Arts Council Contemporary Music Network Tour; was involved in Tippett's 90th birthday celebrations and the BBC Symphony Orchestra's British Music Weekend, both at the Barbican Centre. The Ensemble also appeared at the Bath, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and City of London Festivals.
The 1995/96 season included a series at Wigmore Hall, 'Vienna and the Romantic Century', featuring all Mahler's song cycles in chamber ensemble arrangements, and a live broadcast from Westminster Abbey as part of the Purcell Tricentenary celebrations. In December 1995 The Nash gave the first complete performance of Michael Tippett's Suite from The Tempest in the presence of the composer. Their recent Twentieth Century Music Series at the South Bank premièred new works by Michael Berkeley, Rupert Bawden, Jan Sandström and Anders Nordentoft.
Plans for 1996/97 include residencies at Princeton University USA, the Perth Festival Scotland, and South East Music Schemes; tours to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Spain and Germany; recordings of works by Robin Holloway and Peter Warlock for Hyperion records; a further 20th Century Music Series including premieres of works by Thomas Adès, James MacMillan, Julian Anderson and Sally Beamish; a BBC Promenade concert at the Albert Hall and anniversary concerts for Roberto Gerhard and Manuel de Falla.
Amelia Freedman was Artistic Director of the Bath International Festival from 1986 -1993. In 1986 she had the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres conferred on her by the French Government. She was awarded the MBE in the 1989 Queen's Birthday Honours List and in 1993 had the degree of Hon. Doctor of Music conferred on her by the University of Bath for her services to chamber music and the Bath International Festival. In 1995 she became Artistic Director of the Bath Mozartfest, and has recently been appointed Head of Classical Music at the South Bank Centre.