Ian Mitchell (BMus Music, 1979) is a Clarinettist and Director of Gemini, a chamber ensemble. In March, Gemini released Clarinet and Strings and Ian wrote to Goldsmiths with an update on this latest project.
From its very beginning in 1974, Gemini has commissioned composers in a variety of styles and programmed works and composers that have been overlooked.
The latest disc by Gemini, Clarinet and Strings, arose from a prize in the Prudential Awards and presents works by Cyril Scott and Rebecca Clarke that have been championed by the ensemble.
The Scott quintet was possibly given only its second performance (his widow thought this was the case) at London’s South Bank Centre in 1995. It was premiered by the Melos Ensemble in 1953. The Clarke duo, like much of her music, was unfamiliar to most people, and Gemini (performing from MS copies) has given a number of airings, including a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast resulting in the work being published.
A central plank of Gemini’s programming is to promote contemporary composers, including music by women – 35 of whom have been commissioned and over 70 performances of works by women. The ensemble has developed long-standing relationships with many composers: commissioning, performing and recording with the aim of giving their music a wider audience.
For this project, Gemini has had a long and close musical relationship with Nicola LeFanu (eventually inviting her to be the ensemble’s Honorary President), has supported Sadie Harrison (a former lecturer in the Department of Music at Goldsmiths) from very early in her career, and has commissioned a number of works from Howard Skempton.
The work by Sadie Harrison was also written for a premier in 2020, but due to the pandemic will now be performed ‘live’ for the first time in October 2021 in York.
The recording is available from gemini-ensemble.com, divineartrecords.com and all normal outlets, and an introduction to the recording can be seen on YouTube.