The Owl Ensemble

Owl EnsembleOlivia Moore — violin
Clare Smith — violin
Fiona Peterson — viola
Danny Nor­bury — cello
John Ellis — piano
Sylvan Richard­son — bass
Myke Wilson — drums

Olivia and Myke Wilson had talked about col­lab­or­at­ing for a long time, but The Owl Ensemble even­tu­ally came togeth­er in 2008. Com­bin­ing influ­ences of tango and Fla­menco music, with free impro­visa­tion the band soun­ded quite unlike any­thing else when they premiered at the Royal North­ern Col­lege of Music during the Manchester Jazz Fest­iv­al. The pro­ject was hailed by Jazz­wise magazine as ‘invent­ive.’

The jux­ta­pos­i­tion of the clas­sic­al string quar­tet with the jazz trio makes for an unlikely but dis­tinct­ive and rich sound palette. At times the ensemble cre­ates an intric­ate net­work of melod­ies, and at other times they build up layers of more groove-based rhythmic pat­terns; the res­ult­ant fusion is a power­ful yet intim­ate experience.

John Ellis is one of the most dis­tin­guished and in-demand per­formers in the UK. His relaxed, sup­port­ive and flex­ible approach has seen him work with Cine­mat­ic Orches­tra, Lily Allen, Corinne Bailey Rae and DJ Vadim. 

Sylvan Richard­son has a deep and ground­ing music­al­ity and has played with Simply Red, Joe Lovano, Tommy Smith, Gary Boyle and Andy Shep­pard. He is also an exper­i­enced MD and pro­du­cer in his own right in the pop industry, having worked with Iain Brown and Cleopatra. 

Myke Wilson is an ener­get­ic and excit­ing drum­mer who’s play­ing straddles pop and jazz. He has toured and recor­ded with Mike Walker, The Dust Junkies, Lamb, 808 State, Texas, Swing Out Sister. 

Clare Smith has played with the Lind­say Quar­tet and vari­ous Manchester orchestras. 

Fiona Peterson is cur­rently a full-time viola player with the BBC Phil­har­mon­ic and works freel­ance for many other UK orchestras. 

Danny Nor­bury is a sought-after cel­list on the folk scene and as a multi-instru­ment­al­ist has writ­ten and recor­ded two EPs, ‘Dusk’ and ‘Jean Cockar’, on which he also plays dul­citone, melod­ica and music­al saw.