Psappha, Manchester's new music ensemble and one of the UK's top contemporary music groups, was formed in 1991 by its Artistic Director Tim Williams and specialises in the performance of music by living composers and that of the 20th and 21st centuries. The ensemble has an extensive and varied repertoire of hundreds of works and a reputation for technical assurance and interpretive flair. Attracting attention from audiences and music press internationally, it won the Manchester Evening News Award for Opera in 2000 and has twice been shortlisted for a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award. Psappha has commissioned and premiered many works by a wide range of composers including the award-winning music-theatre work, Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, by its Patron, Peter Maxwell Davies, also recorded by the original performers.
Psappha has appeared throughout the UK, featuring regularly at most of the country's major music festivals, including the BBC Proms, in special Henze and Maxwell Davies portrait series and in the recent Bernstein Project at London's Southbank Centre, and in a residency at the St. Magnus Festival, Orkney in 2009. To celebrate its landmark 20th anniversary this season, Psappha has lined up an exciting and diverse array of commissions from John Casken, Sally Beamish, Gordon McPherson and Ian Wilson.
It has made highly successful tours to North and South America, Australia, Belgium, France, Holland, Ireland, Jersey, Portugal and Spain and last season appeared in the United States as part of a residency at Princeton University. Having made a number of recordings on various labels, Psappha launched its own CD label in 2004 with Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King and Miss Donnithorne's Maggot. The most recent release, Busted Micro Shorts, features music by Steven Mackey.
Contemporary Ensemble in Residence at the University of Manchester, Psappha encourages the breaking down of barriers between artistic and educational experiences, inspiring creativity and the exchange of ideas with students through interactive and collaborative projects. Autumn 2010 saw the launch of Composition Lab, an online resource designed to accompany the composition element of GCSE and A-level music. In August 2011 Psappha became the official University of Salford MediaCityUK Ensemble in a unique partnership which will use the latest in media and digital technology based at MediaCityUK to create exciting new ways of performing. Tireless champions of the music of today, Psappha is continually seeking to develop new audiences, breaking fresh ground in its innovative development of the digital dissemination of its work through free-to-view films of live performances on its website. Psappha welcomes people of all ages to try something new, and become involved with the ensemble and its composers through its online resources, in performances and projects and at its pre- and post-concert events.
Psappha has developed an extensive digital presence which includes 40 works filmed live in performance.