A flute (Eliza Marshall), a harp (Camilla Pay) and a clarinet (Nicholas Ellis) are not a common grouping of instruments. Indeed, Korros say, they know of no other group apart from their own. But when heard, you realise that the three blend perfectly and you wonder why no one else has thought of combining them. Not that their coming together was actually planned.
The three were friends, graduates of the Royal Academy of Music in the early 2000s, with no thought of forming a group. But then Nicholas got one of those offers of a free cruise in return for some concerts. He invited Eliza and a pianist. But the cruise ship baulked at the piano – so they suggested their harpist friend Camilla as an alternative, a harp being somewhat more manageable than a piano. The organisers agreed and the cruise was a great success. Their three instruments complemented each other perfectly, they really enjoyed playing together – and the feedback from the audience was extremely positive. So much of a success that they decided to stick together and, 20 years later, they still are.
However, because they are such an unusual grouping of instruments there is very little repetoire available. Fortunately, Nicholas is a skilled and talented arranger and is happy to turn his hand to any genre and any era. In fact, he says, having very little existing repetoire is positively liberating. As a string quartet there is so much music on offer that it is quite hard to ‘break out’. But for Korros, the almost total lack of existing pieces means that they can look anywhere for inspiration – and they they can provide inspiration for contemporary composers intrigued by the different sound that they make.
Korros does not take up all of their time and until COVID struck they all had busy careers with other groups and orchestras and some teaching. But the total cessation of live music over the last 15 months has forced them, like so many others, to evaluate their positions, their careers and where they really want to go with them. And they want to go Korros.
Before Christmas they staged a very successful ‘Nut-cracking’ on line concert (Tchaikovsy’s Nutcracker suite re-imagined with special guests Catrina Finch and Divina del Campo) to raise money for Barnardo’s. They now have an album pending and several other exciting projects in the offing – possibly even including a recording in the cavernous space which is my half built house!
Meanwhile, they will be playing in Highgate School’s lovely Victorian chapel on the evening of June 22nd as part of this year’s Highgate Festival – socially distanced, of course, but actually live!
The concert, which starts at 6.30pm, will feature works by Sir Arnold Bax, Elizabeth Poston, Dmitri Shostakovich and Maurice Ravel.