Pocket Sinfonia is reinterpreting orchestral masterpieces with the fresh spontaneity and intimacy of a chamber group. They are Brighton Early Music Festival Young Artists, and winners of the St. Martin-in-the-Field’s Chamber Competition Audience Prize. They have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from the London International Early Music Exhibition, and have performed at St Martin-in-the-Fields, at Brighton Early Music, Sherborne and Petworth Festivals, and at several venues across Norway, including the Mozart Festival and Oslo’s prestigious Universitetets Aula.
Rosie Bowker – flute; Eleanor Corr – violin; Thomas Isaac – cello; Emil Duncumb – piano
Using both modern and period instruments, Pocket Sinfonia was formed to recreate some of the atmosphere of wonderful 19th-century living room parties, where the intimacy of a chamber music performance could be applied to orchestral-scale pieces usually only heard in a much larger setting. This was made possible via various transcriptions by composers of the 19th century, including Hummel. Pocket Sinfonia have since also made their own arrangements, applying spontaneity and vigour to creations that are not merely a smaller version of a great piece, but something new and artistic in its own right. It also allows the poor pianist to finally get to play some symphonies!
Pocket Sinfonia has been lucky enough to perform at various places much bigger than most living rooms since publishing a YouTube video of Hummel’s arrangement of Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. This video (featuring bright yellow trainers) attracted ‘reviews’ such as “You guys are so good I feel like my brain was just run over by a truck”!
A more well-known reviewer, The Telegraph’s Ivan Hewett, came to see Pocket Sinfonia at Brighton Early Music Festival 2018 and wrote that “in terms of sheer energy, the palm must go to Pocket Sinfonia, who managed to make Mozart’s brilliant Haffner Symphony burst with the energy of an orchestra; what’s more, the little pauses from pianist Emil Duncumb infused it with a real chamber-style rhythmic pliability.”
As well as Brighton Early Music Festival, Pocket Sinfonia have also particularly enjoyed playing in Oslo under Edvard Munch’s painting of the sun, at various festivals in the UK, and especially on a tightly crammed canal boat on the Thames!
Future plans include carting a 2.5m fortepiano around Norway, various performances of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and Pocket Sinfonia’s very own production of Mozart’s juvenile opera Bastien und Bastienne. Look out for their forthcoming CD of Mozart transcriptions, guaranteed to make your parties the envy of the neighbourhood!