Alex Woolf

Composer

Alexei Watkins and Alex Woolf:
Horn and Piano Duo

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Horn player Alexei Watkins and pianist/composer Alex Woolf are a horn and piano duo based in London. They regularly perform together in the UK, at venues including The Foundling Museum, The Royal Academy of Music, Madingley Hall and at the Buxton Festival.

Alexei and Alex have been close friends since their first musical collaboration, when Alex wrote a Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with Alexei as horn soloist, for Benjamin Britten's centenary year. They have been making music together ever since, playing a wide variety of repertoire from Mozart and Beethoven to newly-composed music. Alex has written several new pieces for Alexei, which they frequently perform together.

Repertoire includes:

  • Beethoven: Horn Sonata, Op. 17
  • Strauss: Nocturno, Op. 7
  • Strauss: Les Adieux
  • Schumann: Adagio and Allegro for Horn and Piano
  • Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 3 in Eb
  • Mozart: Horn Concerto No 4 in Eb 
  • Messiaen: Des canyons aux étoiles
  • Scriabin: Romance for Horn and Piano
  • Glazunov: Rêverie 
  • Britten: Canticle 3 ‘Still Falls The Rain’
  • Alex Woolf: Aria
  • Alex Woolf: Land of Nod
  • arrangements of popular classics, show tunes and more

To book Alexei and Alex for a recital, and for further information, please email: alexwoolfmusic@gmail.com

Biographies:

Alexei Watkins

 Born in 1995 in London, Alexei studies French Horn at the Royal Academy of Music on a Sir Elton John Scholarship under the tuition of Michael Thompson, Martin Owen, Katy Woolley and Roger Montgomery. He also currently holds the Dennis Brain Prize and the Gill Culpin Award.

He is a keen orchestral player, and has played with the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Halle, the English Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru and is currently Principal Horn of the Britten Pears Orchestra (from 2015). He was Principal Horn of the University of London Symphony Orchestra (2015-16), a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (2011-13) and also Principal Horn of Thames Youth Orchestra (2010-13). As a soloist, Alexei has performed the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings both in the UK and abroad with Thames Youth Orchestra and Mozart’s 4th Horn Concerto at Hampton School, where he held a Music Scholarship.

Alexei has a strong interest in chamber music and is a member of several ensembles at the Academy. He was a member of Aldeburgh Young Musicians (2011-2013), where he enjoyed playing in ensembles and exploring contemporary music. Here, he held a Leverhulme Scholarship and performed in venues such as Snape Maltings and Latitude Festival. In April 2015 Alexei recorded Mozart’s Gran Partita with the Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble and Strauss’ Symphony of Wind and Serenade with Aldeburgh Winds. At the Academy, Alexei won the Worshipful Company of Musicians Brass Ensemble Prize with his Brass Quintet in June 2015 and is now a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

Alexei is very keen to promote new music and most notably, premièred the ‘Serenade’ for Tenor, Horn and Strings by Alex Woolf, commissioned by Aldeburgh Music as part of the Britten Centenary celebrations in November 2013 at Snape Maltings. Continuing the collaboration with composer Alex Woolf and fellow oboe student at the Academy, Tom Blomfield, Alexei is a founding member of the Trio for Oboe, Horn and Piano, ‘Watch This Space’.  In the Summer 2015, Alexei was the horn player in the Britten Pears Contemporary Music course under the direction of Oliver Knussen and Colin Matthews.

Alex Woolf

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Born in 1995, Alex Woolf has composed music for a wide variety of artists and ensembles; these include the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Tallis Scholars, Malcolm Martineau, London Youth Choir, and the Choirs of Truro Cathedral, Magdelene College and St John’s College, Cambridge. His music has been broadcast several times on BBC Radio 3 and performed both across the UK and internationally. Alex is a member of the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Composers Scheme, writing music for the LSO to be premiered in 2018. Having graduated in 2016 with a double First from St John’s College, Cambridge, Alex now studies with David Sawer and Huw Watkins at the Royal Academy of Music, where he is generously supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Recent commissions include a new flute work for Sir James Galway (commissioned by Classic FM and the Royal Philharmonic Society), a new choral work for St John the Divine Cathedral, New York, marking the 500th anniversary of the 1517 reformation, and a new carol for Truro Cathedral’s Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

In 2012 Alex was BBC Young Composer of the Year, and his Fanfare opened the 2012 International Olympic Committee session, performed at Covent Garden by Sir Antonio Pappano and the ROH Orchestra to accompany the entrance of HRH The Princess Royal. Alex was commissioned to write Three Tempestuous Tunes for acclaimed tenor Nicky Spence’s debut album ‘As You Like It’, recorded with pianist Malcolm Martineau in 2013. These songs received their US premiere in Menlo Park, California in March 2015, and were performed live on BBC Radio 3 in 2016 by Mark Stone and Richard Sisson. Also in 2012 Alex became Principal Composer of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and won the National Centre for Early Music composition award. 

Alex contributed twice to Benjamin Britten’s centenary year in 2013: his Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings was performed in Snape Maltings Concert Hall as part of Aldeburgh Music’s centenary weekend, and the London Youth Choir performed his Begone, Dull Care as part of their own centenary celebrations. In December 2015 Alex marked the bicentenary of Anthony Trollope with a new commission for the Trollope Society’s commemorative ceremony in Westminster Abbey, London.