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About Us

​Founded by Wiktor Wysocki officially on the 16th of January 2023, it had its start in September as a smaller ensemble of eight people, made up of a guitar, bass trombone and winds. It has now grown to over 48 members, with plans for further growth in the near future.
 

The RRO is a newly formed orchestra, consisting of mostly current RBC students, and run entirely by RBC students, with support from staff and tutors.

Its focus is on romantic repertoire, alongside new and contemporary tonal compositions and is intended to be, in part, a platform for composers to express their emotions in a colorfully tonal and refreshing way.

The RRO was founded with a purpose in mind: to revive romantic music in the wider classical genre, in a relevant and modern style hence, Romantic-Revival. It isn't about eliminating the experimental, atonal or similar works, but rather about giving new, romantic music a voice alongside that. Accessible music for all, brought to you by the young musicians of tomorrow. The orchestra is conducted by Leo Jaffrey

About the Romantic-Revival Movement

“The Romantic revival in serious music arose in the 1960s after decades of relatively conservative and traditional offerings by the world’s concert presenting organizations and record companies. After World War II there was an over-emphasis on the canon of standard “great masterpieces”, co-existing with disdain for any music that was perceived as not profound in intent. The gray and uninteresting scope of music at the time was complemented by attempts to have contemporary twelve-tone music accepted into the mainstream. Similarly, there was a widespread and profound change in the way music was taught, with the traditional conservatory bar-by-bar reading of the text (score) replacing the earlier centuries’ interest in spontaneity, imagination and personality in performance.

 

This revitalization of the musical scene was brought about by a number of musicians who had been trained in the old style, and a smaller number of musicologists and music company executives who were interested in viable compositions that had been
excluded from the canon, as well as more flexible and expressive ways of performing. The subject was one of the favorites of Harold C. Schonberg, then music critic of the New York Times. Schonberg credited Frank Cooper and his Festival of Neglected Romantic Music with jump starting the revival. In the 1970s, through reviews in Records & Recording, Ates Orga championed the movement in Britain, leading later to his 1994 Virtuoso Romantics series with Marc-André Hamelin at the Wigmore Hall. Now in the beginning of the 21st century, because of those efforts, the repertoires of orchestras, string quartets, opera houses, ballet troupes and solo instrumentalists are far more likely to contain a wide variety of music from all periods, including 19th century works by composers other than Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, that had been previously excluded before the revival.”

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romantic_Revival

 

The predominant difference between this movement and the goal of the RRO is to champion new romantic music alongside the well-known and obscure works of previous generations of composers. The RRO is intended to be a platform for composers to express their emotions in a colorfully tonal and refreshing way, in an overly grey and monotonous world. It isn't about eliminating the experimental, atonal or similar works, but rather about giving new, romantic music a voice alongside that. Accessible music for all.

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New Zealand born conductor Leo Jaffrey began his musical career as a baritone saxophonist in a trad-style Swing Band. Moving on to the Tenor, and then to Alto, his fascination with music grew in a classical direction, leading him to study composition with aspirations to become a film composer. After scoring two short films and completing his degree in composition, conducting became his full-time focus and he quickly finished two postgraduate conducting courses, one at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and the later at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. 

 

Alongside his ongoing work with a variety of school and community-based ensembles, he has worked with several professional groups including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia, the Orchestra of the Swan, and the Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir. He has learnt from, and assisted conductors such as Dr. Karen Grylls, Daniele Rosina, Michael Seal, Hamish McKeich, Gemma New, James Judd, Dr. Kevin Cameron, and Tecwyn Evans. 

 

Augmenting his freelance conducting, Leo is also currently working on two commissions as well as a chamber opera, and some commissioned arrangements. He regularly appears as a chorister at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, and has a position as a lay clerk at the St Chad's Cathedral. When not waving his arms or singing in church, Leo is an avid hiker and enjoys 'getting out into the bush to see some nature'. 

Wiktoria Ćwik was born in 2001 in the city of Zamość, Poland. Following some significant events that would change her life, she moved to England at the age of 6. From a young age, she would demonstrate a love for music and a keen interest in the arts, it was later however, where she would realise this dream. At age 14, she began her piano lessons with Cara Joy Holland, and the following year became the recipient of the Raymond Banning Scholarship, in memory of Raymond Banning who was a Concert Pianist and a Trinity College of Music Professor who untimely passed away in 2012. Under Lorraine Augustine’s tuition, she was prepared to audition for music college.  

Ultimately, Wiktoria’s love for the piano led her to Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where she now studies BMus in Piano Performance under John Thwaites (Head of Keyboard.) Driven by her love for Polish composers and her heritage, Wiktoria also studied at the Krzysztof Penderecki Academy of Music in Kraków, Poland as part of the Erasmus exchange. During this time, she studied with Marek Szlezer and Aleksandra Hortensja Dąbek. 

Wiktoria has participated in numerous festivals and competitions throughout her music career. Including the Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Dulwich Music Festival, Clementi Piano Festival with the opportunity of performing in Muzio Clementi's house in London,  Bedford Young Music Competition 2018 as a finalist, in the London Regional Final 2018 of the EPTA UK Piano Competition and the International Elena Cobb Star Award Competition. Her recent competition participation within the conservatoire include the Beryl Chempin Beethoven Prize for Pianists and the Dennis Matthews Piano Prize.Regarded as a ‘Pianist worth listening’ in an interview, Wiktoria is known for her colours and sensitivity in her playing. She is a keen advocate of music from the Romantic period, as she considers music the art form most capable of expressing the full range of human emotion.  

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Maciej Bio 250-500 words

Mason Ma has been comissioned by the RRO to write a 10 minute piece for our season finale.

 

Mason Siu-wai Ma is a Hongkongese-British composer and arranger/orchestrator currently based in Birmingham, UK. His works are mostly late to neo-romantic, sometimes exploring various areas in modern music e.g. impressionism, free atonality, open scores and Japanese pop music. 

Born in the melting pot of Hong Kong, Mason is eager to merge different styles of music with his own flair. Having noticed the apathy of the general public towards some styles of modern music due to their abstraction and intellectuality, he aims to “connect modernism in music with the audience”. Using romanticism as his primary colours, he extends his musical palette with non-functional harmony, aleatoricism, extended techniques and uses of unusual instruments. Mason has been praised for his skills in handling large musical forms and his fluency in developing material at a young age, as well as his ability to amalgamate various styles and create colourful soundscapes. His work An Autumn Sketch (2020) was awarded all the prizes in the 2021 GalaMusica Chamber Compositions (Hong Kong), with which he graduated as the top achiever in Music from his high school in 2022.  

With his previous experience in the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts Junior Department and his achievements in GalaMusica, Mason was promoted to a mentorship scheme of the Hong Kong Composers’ Guild with full sponsorship, where, under the tuition of Alfred Wong, he completed his work Tarantella Estatico (2021), and it was performed by leading musicians in Hong Kong. He was also interviewed by the Guild as part of the mentorship scheme.  

Mason has been commissioned by the International Office to write a piece for the inaugural overseas RBC concert hosted in Hualien, Taiwan in August 2023. His work for this concert, Theme and Variations on The Torment of a Flower (2023) has received very favourable reviews from the audience, having been commented as “touching and tearful”. He also participated in the making of the music for Flare Path (2022), alongside Chak-Hang Chan of RBC. 

Mason’s music has been performed by various fellow musicians in RBC, as well as Orchestra of the Swan, Thallein Ensemble and prestigious musicians in Hong Kong and the UK, including Rowland Sutherland (flute), Aimee Sung (violin), Karen Sung (Piano),  Juanita Wong (violoncello), Cass Ho (viola), Martin Choy (clarinet), Zijin Chen (dizi) and more. 

Mason hosts the Musescore page Caprice Studio, with over 700 followers currently. He mainly uploads his earlier works on the page, and has also done a wide range of piano arrangements of Japanese pop songs and soundtracks from the game Genshin Impact.  

He is currently studying as a second-year undergraduate student in the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire,  under the tuition of Luke Bedford and Howard Skempton. 

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 Juliana, a British-born Chinese composer and pianist, embarked on her musical journey at the age of nine when she secured a full scholarship as a first study pianist at The Purcell School for Young Musicians. Her talent as a pianist quickly garnered attention, leading to numerous competition victories and performances in prestigious venues throughout the UK and Europe. Juliana's passion for music extended beyond performance, as she discovered composition at the age of eleven. In 2017, she earned recognition as a prize winner in the BBC Young Composer’s competition. This achievement resulted in the recording and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 of her piano piece 'A Short Fantasy,' interpreted by John Reid. A year later, Juliana received a commission to compose a choral work inspired by the Women’s Suffrage movement. The piece was workshopped and recorded by the BBC Singers, subsequently broadcast on Radio 3. Juliana's portfolio extends beyond solo piano and choral compositions. Her works have also been performed by ensembles such as the Tippett Quartet and the Aurora Orchestra (London). During her formative years at The Purcell School, Juliana studied composition under the guidance of distinguished composers such as Deborah Pritchard, Brian Elias, and Joseph Phibbs. Her dedication and evolving musical interests led her to transition into a joint first study, with a primary focus on composition during her sixth form years. Furthering her academic pursuits, Juliana enrolled at Durham University, initially studying music, English literature, and politics. However, her unwavering passion for composition eventually led her to make a pivotal decision. After a year, she redirected her course and successfully secured a place at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where she currently is a second-year composition student.

      Juliana draws inspiration for her compositions from the rich tapestry of piano repertoire she encountered during her training as a classical pianist. Also, the harmonic landscapes of Janacek and Scriabin resonate deeply within her musical creations. For Juliana, music is a powerful means of communication, allowing her to articulate emotions, stories, and experiences. She composes at the piano, the tactile connection with the keys serves as a direct channel for translating her emotions and narratives into music. In this way, the piano is not merely an instrument but a companion in Juliana's artistic journey, shaping and giving voice to the stories she wishes to tell through her compositions.

Juliana has been comissioned by the RRO to write a 10 minute piece for our season finale.

Vinny is orchestrating various pieces for the RRO.

 

Vinícius Motta is a Brazilian-English composer, performer, arranger/orchestrator, and educator based in Birmingham (UK). His works explore a range of areas – contemporary, education-based works, electronics, experimental, film/TV & video games, open scores, orchestral works, and songs. 

As a composer, his work explores performers' independence within an ensemble. His interest mainly revolves around timbre, aleatoricism, and open performance directions. 

In his role as an arranger and orchestrator, he focuses on preserving the essence of the original work. He adds a playful touch to the ensemble and work by passing relevant musical material around everyone, creating dynamic changes in timbre. Performers and the general public often praise his orchestrations for being lively, playful, and organic. In March 2023, he inaugurated his tenure as an arranger/orchestrator by curating performances featuring his orchestrations/arrangements of compositions by Brahms, Gershwin, Prokofiev, and Ravel.

His music has been performed by a range of musicians and departments at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the Orchestra of the Swan, Thallein, as well as prestigious performers, including Rowland Sutherland (flute), David Le Page (violin), Simon Limbrick (percussion), and Antony Gray (piano). 

Vinícius has been involved with a range of events and arts organizations around Birmingham, showcasing and performing his work in the Birmingham Flatpack Film Festival, Eastside Projects (art gallery), and the Midlands Art Centre. Vinícius has scored "Mourning Cloak" (2022), an animation directed by Joshua Davies, which has collected several awards and selections across various film festivals in the UK, as well as a selection for a festival in Los Angeles, US. 

Vinícius recently had his work featured in Andrew Toovey’s CoMA memories, a collection curated by Andrew Toovey, featuring world premieres and works by various composers, including Andrew Toovey, Michael Finnissy, and Robert Nettleship. This culminated in a performance at St John's Smith Square in London during the summer of 2023. 

Vinicius was commissioned by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to write a new orchestral work for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Repertoire Orchestra. It will be performed at the end-of-term concert on the 15th of December 2023, conducted by Daniele Rosina. His new work "CRY" is opening the program, followed by Walton’s Henry V Suite and Beethoven’s Symphony No.1. 

Vinicius's work will be performed at Symphony Hall in early 2024 as one of the arrangers for CBSO Remix. He is also the core arranger/orchestrator for the Romantic Revival Orchestra 2023-24 season, orchestrating a range of works to be performed at CBSO Centre in Birmingham. Additionally, he is arranging Suite bergamasque for wind quintet and vibraphone, to be performed by final year Conservatoire students during a concert at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in late February 2024. 

Vinícius is currently under the tuition of Andrew Toovey, Sean Clancy, Luke Bedford, and Neil Stemp.

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Howard's legendary 'Lento' is being performed in our March 28th concert.

Howard Skempton was born in Chester in 1947, and has worked as a composer, accordionist, and music publisher. He studied in London with Cornelius Cardew from 1967, which helped Skempton to discover a musical language of great simplicity. Since then he has continued to write undeflected by compositional trends, producing a corpus of more than 300 works - many pieces being miniatures for solo piano or accordion. Skempton calls these pieces "the central nervous system" of his work.

Skempton's catalogue of works is also as diverse as it is long, ranging from pieces for solo cello (Six Figures, 1998), and guitar (Five Preludes, 1999), to the Chamber Concerto for fifteen players, the Concerto for Hurdy-Gurdy and Percussion, and Lento, premièred by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in 1991, and performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov at the 2010 BBC Proms.

In May 2005 Skempton’s Tendrils for string quartet was awarded the prize for ‘best chamber-scale composition’ by the Royal Philharmonic Society, and in December 2005 it won in the chamber music category at the annual British Composer Awards. Skempton won a second British Composer Award in 2008 for The Moon is Flashing, a song cycle for tenor and orchestra commissioned by the BBC which was premièred by BBC NOW and James Gilchrist at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in September 2007 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Many of Skempton's compositions have been recorded, including the hugely successful Lento for orchestra on the NMC label by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the piano works performed by John Tilbury on the Sony Classical label, and Shiftwork by Ensemble Bash, also on Sony Classical. 2001 saw the release by Guild of The Flight of Song, an acclaimed choral collection performed by the choir of Queens' College Cambridge under James Weeks. Vocal group Exaudi released a disc of Skempton's choral music in September 2007, also on the NMC label. The recording, entitled Ben Somewhen, also featured chamber works performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. The Cloths of Heaven, a recording of Skempton’s choral music by the Exon Singers, was released on Delphian Records in June 2008, and in 2011 Mode Records released Bolt from the Blue, a disc featuring Skempton's piano and choral works. More recent recordings include Only the Sound Remains and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, on NMC in 2017. The summer of 2018 will see the release of a new album of chamber works titled  The Man, Hurdy-Gurdy, and Me performed by Sirinu for Metier.

Works have been commissioned and performed by leading artists including various BBC ensembles, Kathryn Tickell, Roderick Williams, New Noise, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's 'Ensemble 10/10'. A work for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Only the Sound Remains, for viola and ensemble, was premièred in 2010 in a Skempton portrait concert. Other commissions include a choral work, Song's Eternity for the 2010 Aldeburgh Festival, and Skempton was invited to take part in the New Music 20*12 Cultural Olympiad project - for which he composed a piece for eight church bells for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. It was performed to mark the opening of Spitalfields Festival at Christ Church, London, in June 2012.

More recent work includes a setting of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner  (premiered by the BCMG in December 2015) and a setting of DH Lawrence’s Man and Bat (premiered by Ensemble360 in Sheffield  2017), both written for baritone Roderick Williams. Skempton has also recently written a Piano Concerto, commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and premiered by John Tilbury at the 2016 Tectonics Festival in Glasgow; and a new string quartet Moving On, written for the Brodsky Quartet and premiered at the Harrogate Music Festival in 2016. His recent choral works include a new setting of Ave Maria for the choir of Nottingham Cathedral and a set of Preces & Responses premiered at New Music Wells by Wells Cathedral Choir in October 2017.

 

(biography courtesy of Oxford University Press)

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