London-based Nash Ensemble is a chamber orchestra consisting of 11 regular members, though their number can vary widely according to the work performed. Their repertory is broad but favors modern works by English composers like Lennox Berkeley, Harrison Birtwistle, James MacMillan, and Mark-Anthony Turnage. They perform most of their subscription concerts at Wigmore Hall, but also appear at other locations, including the Royal Festival Hall's Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Founded in 1964 by Amelia Freedman, its longtime artistic director, the Nash Ensemble took its name from the famous Nash terraces in London, designed by architect John Nash. The ensemble initially developed its reputation in Great Britain, only slowly gaining recognition abroad.
Its first American tour took place in 1981, but the group remained little-known in the United States until the turn of the new century. In England, however, it had become recognized for its artistic achievements throughout the 1980s and, thereafter, both for concerts (which included premieres of many works written specifically for the group -- 113 by 2006) and for recordings.
Amelia Freedman was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in 1989 in recognition of her artistic contributions. Bath University gave her an honorary doctorate in 1993, both because of work with the Bath International Festival, which she directed from 1986-1993, and for her work in the realm of chamber music.
In the early '80s, the Nash Ensemble began recording for the Hyperion label, its first releases were a disc of chamber works by Berkeley (1983) and three CDs of compositions by Malcolm Arnold (1984). Soon the group began recording with other labels as well, including CDR (Hummel and Berwald septets; 1989), and NMC (Turnage works; 1995). Beginning in the 1990s, recording activity intensified, both for Hyperion and other labels, including ASV and Black Box.
The 2005-2006 season again featured many new works by the ensemble, bringing its total to more than 250, and it also made tours of Germany and of England, with appearances at many festivals.