Interview with Léonie Adams
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and your background?
The Dionysus Ensemble
A virtuosic chamber ensemble with a string quartet at its core, The Dionysus Ensemble are equally at home on the concert platform, playing for events in both formal and informal settings, as well as providing music education projects.
We have been appointed the first ever Ensemble in Residence for The Commonwealth Resounds, one of only two accredited music organisations within the Commonwealth.
The Dionysus team have performed with some of the world’s leading orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic, Scottish Opera, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia and English National Ballet. They have performed at the internationally acclaimed Proms, including the prestigious First Night, recorded at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, appeared on film sound tracks such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and backed stars including Shirley Bassey, Jason Donovan and Andrea Bocelli.
The Dionysus Ensemble performed in the live international BBC broadcast of the Commonwealth Day Service in March at Westminster Abbey for Her Majesty the Queen, joined by senior members of the royal family, in a service of celebration for Commonwealth Day with heads of state from all 53 member nations. They have also performed at private events for the Royal Commonwealth Society and at Marlborough House for Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. In September they have been invited to present a concert at the Nehru Centre, which is the cultural centre attached to the Indian High Commission in London.
The Dionysus team are all experienced educators both as instrumental teachers, coaches and outreach providers, and have taken musical projects into a wide range of communities.
How was the Dionysus Ensemble formed?
By Léonie Adams back in 2003 while studying at the Royal College of Music. It started life initially to provide small orchestras and chamber ensembles for opera companies and developed into the virtuosic chamber ensemble it is today with a dual purpose of performance and education outreach.
What has been your most memorable moment as part of the Dionysus Ensemble?
This year in March we were invited to perform for Her Majesty the Queen, joined by senior members of the royal family, in a service of celebration for Commonwealth Day with heads of state from all 53 member nations. The Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey was broadcast live internationally by the BBC. Our quintet, (violin, viola, cello, harp and flute) performed and I was presented to Her Majesty at the end at the request of the Palace.
Can you tell us more about being a part of the Commonwealth Resounds?
We are reaching out across the Commonwealth, wanting to get involved in helping children, young musicians and music teachers around the world to develop, and to share our professional international experiences and expertise.
We are devising projects to include masterclasses, teaching, ensemble coaching and performances to support and enhance existing work as well as creating music projects in places that have none.
We believe that we can inspire students to strive for greater achievements, and to give them access to an insight into the professional musical world here in the UK. We want to collaborate with musicians to learn their traditions and to assist in their improvement and advancement so that they are encouraged and better equipped to then inspire a new generation of budding creatives.
How can music be used to raise awareness about climate change?
It’s a unique access point which breaks down barriers and allows access to the theme without the need for scientific knowledge, prior musical experience or technical know-how. Music is an international language and speaks directly to the soul and emotions, generating a platform for greater understanding and impact.
What are you most looking forward to about working with the students?
Seeing what they create and helping them to shape it ready for performance.
What do you hope that this could lead to in the future?
Taking this project across Commonwealth countries to allow children from around the world to experience the same creative process and to share their experiences with all other JM students via the online portal. This will facilitate greater international understanding of the challenges facing each nation, even though they may be opposite. Droughts vs floods for example, but we can work together around the world to find a solution for all.