The Octandre Ensemble is co-directed by Jon Hargreaves and composer Christian Mason. The core repertoire focuses on music written after 1945, with an emphasis on timbre and ritual. Sound is an eternally fascinating phenomenon, and music can harness its power in ever more original ways: new music, ancient ideas.
In 2018, the group performed a series of three Composer Portraits at The Coronet Theatre, London, and recorded for Frank Denyer's CD The Fish that became the Sun, due for release on 'Another Timbre'. The ensemble's performance at the 2016 Principal Sound festival, was subsequently broadcast by BBC Radio 3. The programme featured UK premieres of Christian Mason's Layers of Love and Claude Vivier's Samarkand, as well as rare performances of Frank Denyer's After the Rain, and Green Plastic Vase by the ensemble's composer-in-residence, Sinan Savaskan. In December 2015, Savaskan's Many Stares through semi-nocturnal Zeiss-blink (Module 30), a major Octandre commission, won a BASCA British Composer Award.
In 2015 we featured on BBC Radio 3's In Tune, we performed at St John's Smith Square, and we collaborated with Darren Bloom, Kim Ashton and Lisa Illean, in the new:dots composer/curator project 'Curiouser', at Peckham Asylum. Previous festival appearances include Little Missenden Festival where we performed Stravinsky's L'histoire du Soldat in 2014 and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire in 2016; and a residency at York Spring Festival of New Music (2012). In 2012 we also hosted an Anglo-French Composers Forum at LSO St Luke's, London, in association with LSO Soundhub; we presented “Other Voices” at Mystetskyi Arsenal in Kiev, Ukraine; and we performed “Medieval Modernist”, a programme focused on the work of our patron Sir Harrison Birtwistle.
The ensemble made its debut in March 2011 to a large crowd in the chapel of King's College, London, playing a programme including the eponymous Varèse and Scelsi's Pranam II. The following year, the group enjoyed a residency at the York Spring Festival of New Music, playing specialist programmes of Saariaho. Later in 2012 they presented an Anglo-French Composer's Forum at LSO St. Luke's, London, with support from Diaphonique and the Holst Foundation, and played Medieval Modernist, a celebration of the music of its Patron, Sir Harrison Birtwistle. In 2014, the group was invited to perform Stravinsky's L'histoire du Soldat at the Little Missenden Festival, and gave a portrait concert celebrating the 60th birthday of the group's composer-in-association, Sinan Savaskan. Other composer collaboration projects have been in association with new:dots (2013 and 2015) leading to concerts, as well as concerts and workshops at the universities of Bristol, Hull, and Kent, as well as at Westminster school and Eton school.