Cranleighans had the privilege of welcoming the Kosmos Ensemble for a music scholar workshop and evening performance on Wednesday 9th February. Kosmos (Harriet Mackenzie, Meg-Rosaleen Hamilton and Miloš Milivojević) are a violin, viola and accordion ensemble unconstrained by the bounds of the printed score, period or place, with an eclectic approach that resonates well with the school’s desire to broaden pupils’ cultural horizons. 

During the afternoon workshop, pupils were pushed out of their comfort zones into a world of improvisation, Japanese modes and extended instrumental techniques. Kosmos helped the students develop their ideas into an atmospheric and evocative concert-opener entitled Sakura (Cherry Blossom), incorporating haiku, and inspired by the 2011 tsunami. The trio also invited Lower Fifth accordionist, Richard E., to join them in their performance of an arrangement of Piazzolla’s Libertango: an amazing opportunity that he will no doubt treasure for years to come. 

The evening concert was performed ‘in the round’ in a beautifully-lit chapel, courtesy of Mr George Royall. The programme took the audience on a wide-ranging tour of a diverse array of world music styles. The trio’s stylistic fusions married together exciting and unexpected combinations of folk sources, such as an arrangement encompassing both Greek and Klezmer influences and another integrating Swedish and Minimalist elements within a modern reel from the Isle of Skye. These were interspersed with dazzling renditions of virtuosic canonical works based on Eastern European folk tunes, such as Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen and Monti’s Czardas. All these arrangements were presented with the trio’s distinctive blend of impeccable classical technique, rhapsodic improvisation and a telepathic interaction between the musicians. The whole programme exuded a joyous energy and respect for music that was truly infectious.