THE WOODWIND ORCHESTRA.

Shea with the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble,  November 2013

Shea with the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble,
November 2013

Shea Lolin with the woodwind section of the Czech Philharmonic, March 2014

Shea Lolin with the woodwind section of the Czech Philharmonic, March 2014

Shea Lolin has undertaken groundbreaking work to support the little-known genre of the woodwind orchestra. This work includes concert and recording projects at both amateur and professional levels.

Shea is the Music Director of the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble (BWE), an adult amateur woodwind orchestra based in the London district of Bloomsbury. As there were very few works for the woodwind orchestra, Shea began a process of commissioning new and innovate works for the genre.

This began with The Zookeeper by Ruth Young and was performed as part of the 2006 Newham Music & Dance Festival. From there further commissions followed by Alan Bullard, Jeffery Wilson, Martin Ellerby, Philip Sparke and Kamran Ince. The step change happened in 2007 when the BWE applied to take part in the Adopt a Composer scheme. This partner scheme was set up with Making Music and the SPNM. The group was paired with the composer Christopher Hussey who collaborated and forged a new work for the group.

Shea and Chris immediately shared a common artistic goal in working collaboratively. They sought to further the reach of Adopt a Composer/SPNM commission by involving the filmmaker Matt Kemp to pair the new work with an accompanying film. Matt Kemp produced Flux, a 16-minute film to premiere simultaneously with Twisted Skyscape on 6 December 2008 at London’s iconic Riverside Studios in Hammersmith (London, UK).

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Shea Lolin with the London Woodwind Orchestra, April 2016

Shea Lolin with the London Woodwind Orchestra, April 2016

The relationship between Chis Hussey and the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble continued and he wrote a new work, Dreamtide, this time commissioned directly by the BWE in 2013. It was shortly after this that Chris and Shea felt compelled enough to record a selection of works for woodwind orchestra. They approached several orchestras internationally and decided to make the recording with the Czech Philharmonic who were ranked eighth in the ‘World's Favourite Orchestra 2013’ by Bachtrack.

A crowdfunding campaign was launched in New Year’s Day 2014 and was made successful through the generous support of corporate sponsors including BASBWE and CASSGB, patrons John Holland and Ann Pfeiffer, and more than 130 supporters. The recording took place on 25 and 26 March 2014 in Smecky Music Studios, Prague with the woodwind section of the Czech Philharmonic.

The recording sessions were filmed by Colin Izod and Tim Watchorn (Big Heart Media) and a 30-minute documentary was made about the project and the recording.

The album (entitled Twisted Skyscape) was met with critical acclaim and caught the attention of Classical Music including receiving a feature length article in the October 2015 edition of the publication. The album was released on 17 July 2015 to coincide with the First Night of the 2015 BBC Proms season. This was chosen specifically because one of the albums featured composers, Gary Carpenter, was to receive the world premiere of a BBC commission, Dadaville.

The next major step in disseminating the woodwind orchestra was to create an 18-piece woodwind orchestra comprising principal woodwind musicians from the UK’s leading orchestras. The London Woodwind Orchestra gave their debut performance on 23 April 2016 at St John’s, Smith Square (London, UK). It was a landmark event being the first ever concert given by a professional woodwind orchestra.

The relationship between Christopher Hussey, the Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble and its conductor Shea Lolin continues, and they gave the world premiere of the third commission, Child of the Wandering Sea in November 2018.

In addition to the concert and recording work, Shea Lolin has set up a website for the promotion of the woodwind orchestra. The Woodwind Orchestra Online Portal is a free resource and lists details of repertoire, concerts and recordings in addition to the history of the woodwind orchestra.

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Shea Lolin (left) and Christopher Hussey (right) at the First Night of the 2015 BBC Proms.

Shea Lolin (left) and Christopher Hussey (right) at the First Night of the 2015 BBC Proms.