Riot Ensemble

Liza Lim’s Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus at Kings Place

“… musically inventive and arresting”

The Times

“Volcanically creative”

Alex Ross





Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Artistic Director




“Since I heard we would be awarded the Ernst von Siemens Ensemble Prize, I find my mind keeps drifting back to our earliest concerts. Planning and pushing through so many difficulties. Finding our feet. Just keeping on making the next things. To be awarded this Prize is a moment – for me – of reflection and on looking ahead. The things this group of musicians have created – have helped inspire composers to create and have made happen in such a wide variety of concerts – well, it’s nothing but a joy to me. And this Prize is a recognition of that quality, and a kind of hope for the future. That we’ll still be here after this disastrous year and beyond, a part of this community, doing what we love. I couldn’t be more grateful or more excited.”

“Always impeccable;
Entrancing and highly seductive”

The Times

Riot Ensemble connects people to ­great contemporary music in concerts and events that are just as innovative, vibrant and rewarding as the music itself. The members of Riot are some of the top European soloists in new music.

Sarah Saviet, violin

“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.”

I Care If You Listen

Based in London, Riot is particularly active in bringing emerging international voices to the British new-music scene and since 2012 has given over 200 World and UK premieres by composers from more than thirty countries.

Their annual call for scores received 436 submissions in 2020, and in the past 6 years has resulted in almost twenty commissions. Additionally, they enjoy close working relationships with some of the most important composers of our time, including Clara Iannotta, Chaya Czernowin, Ann Cleare, and Georg Friedrich Haas whose evening length piece Solstices was commissioned by Riot in 2019.



Ann Cleare, Composer

Riot performs regularly at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK) as well as Dark Music Days (Iceland), Tampere Biennale (Finland), Nordic Music Days (Sweden), and November Music (Netherlands) with upcoming appearances scheduled at Darmstadt (Germany), Wien Modern (Austria), ENSEMS (Spain), Arctic Arts (Norway) and Tzlil Meudcan (Israel).

In 2020, they began a new partnership with Kings Place presenting their ReNEW series, focusing on bringing the most cutting edge international new music to London.

“What a 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.”

The Arts Desk

Goska Isphording, harpsichord

“The Ernst von Siemens Ensemble Prize gives our ensemble the freedom to unfold fully within the challenges of presenting contemporary music. Supporting not only our players but also the whole community (together with composers, curators and the public) on our adventurous journey together.”

Their recent release on Huddersfield Contemporary Records, Speak Be Silent, was named one of the ten most important recordings of the year by Alex Ross in the New Yorker, and has been praised as ‘one of the best recordings of 2019’ by Sequenza 21 and ‘a most impressive release’ by Australia’s Limelight magazine.

Speak, Be Silent

“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

“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

They have also recently released a disc featuring Jonathan Harvey’s Song Offerings, recorded at Deutschlandfunk in Köln and are currently working on a new release of Patricia Alessandrini’s chamber music for HCR. Riot features regularly on BBC Radio 3 and enjoys radio broadcasts across Europe.

Their work has been generously supported by Opus 2 International and Arts Council England lottery grants, alongside numerous private sponsors, PRSF, the Ambache Charitable Trust, the RVW Trust, and the Holst Foundation.

Viola preparations for recording of Patricia Alessandrini's music

Song Offerings

“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

Tim Rutherford-Johnson, writer




“I joined Riot Ensemble in 2016 because I felt strongly that the UK needed an ambitious, adventurous and outward-looking ensemble if it were to maintain its connections to new music internationally, and revitalise the new music community of composers, perfor­mers, and audiences at home. In the wake of Brexit and Covid-19, these goals are even more urgent. By helping us secure permanent rehearsal space and employ dedicated administrators, the Ernst von Siemens Ensemble Prize gives us foundation from which we can focus on these goals on a long-term basis and with a complete dedication to artistic excellence.”

Riot Ensemble is a modular and elastic group: this means they can appear as a single performer giving a free concert in a hospital, or a chamber orchestra on the stage of Kings Place.

The ensemble is managed and led by the Artists themselves. These performers comprise their “Artistic Board” and they are some of the top European soloists in new music. Each works with Riot as performers, curators, commissioners, and collaborators, creating and producing a diverse array of projects.

Rehearsing Evan Johnson's Linke Hand eines Apostles for HCMF 2019 and Riot season planning 2015

Extinction Events

“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

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