ArkEnsemble was devised and established in 2016 by Rob Buckland, drawing on his experiences as a internationally renowned saxophone soloist and creative chamber musician working across genres from classical and contemporary to jazz and improvised music.

Taking inspiration from the RNCM’s Platform partners The Netherlands Wind Ensemble, and Rob’s work with groups such as the Michael Nyman Band, London Saxophonic and the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, the ArkEnsemble comprises two of each of the main wind instrument families: two flutes (doubling piccolo and alto flute), two oboes (doubling cor anglais), two bassoons (doubling contra), two clarinets (doubling bass/Eb), two saxophones (doubling SATB as required), two trumpets (doubling flugel, Eb etc), two French horns, two trombones (including bass), two percussion, and double bass/bass guitar, conducted by Rob Buckland.

Engaging and striking presentation is a major part of the group’s performance, with players in individual concert dress, all players standing, theatrical elements introduced into the performances, and stylish lighting designs incorporated into the production.

The repertoire draws from an incredibly wide-ranging and open-minded legacy of music for winds and beyond: its début concert featured music by Mozart to Moondog, Martland, Andriessen, Nyman and Torke and original works by Rob Buckland, Will Gregory, and other crossover composers.

The group is also designed to be both a vehicle for the RNCM composers, and for collaboration with a wide range of artists as part of its ongoing development – jazz and pop artists, dance, voice, poetry, film, electronics etc are expected to form part of these collaborations as the group’s repertoire grows. It is anticipated that one concert per year will focus on one such new initiative, whilst other performances and outreach will draw on more standard orchestrations.

In tandem with the artistic programme, this group will lead outreach performance and workshop activities with hubs and specialist music centres around the UK.

Regular appearances as part of the RNCM performance programme will include a lunchtime concert each autumn, which will drive the development and realisation of new programmes and collaborations that will be part of that year’s additional concert programmes.