Icebreaker (band)

Icebreaker (band)

Icebreaker is a UK-based new music ensemble founded by James Poke and John Godfrey. The group have established themselves as one of the UK's leading new music interpreters.


Icebreaker was formed in 1989 to play at the new Dutch music festival in York. The group currently consists of 13 members, and includes pan-pipes, saxophones, electric violin and cello, guitars, percussion, accordion and keyboards. They always play amplified.

Their repertoire encompasses some of the best known names in contemporary music today, such as Louis Andriessen, Diderik Wagenaar, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Yannis Kyriakides and Philip Glass. Icebreaker are not easy to categorise or pigeonhole in any musical sense, creating a music that blends contemporary classical, rock and alternative music.

Icebreaker have made concert appearances in the UK, US and Europe, including the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the Warsaw, Aarhus, Ghent, Grenoble and Budapest festivals, Sonorities in Belfast, the Baltic Gaida Festival and the NYYD Festival in Estonia, as well as a dedicated Icebreaker festival with the Wiener Musik Galerie in Vienna. In London they have appeared at Meltdown, the ICA, the Place Theatre, the South Bank, the Barbican, the Warehouse, Ocean and the Almeida, among other venues. They have appeared on two Arts Council Contemporary Music Network tours of England. United States appearances include New York's Bang on a Can Festival, the Lincoln Center Festival, and a performance at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers' Orchestra in Stewart Wallace's "The Book of Five".

They have been resident ensemble at the Dartington International Summer School for the advanced composition course led by Louis Andriessen, and have held composition workshops for the SPNM in Bangor and Belfast as well as additional workshops in New York and London. In June 2005 they took part in the Popular Music course at Goldsmiths College in association with John Paul Jones.

Since 2005 most of Icebreaker's albums have been released on the New York-based label Cantaloupe Music. 2005 saw the release of "Cranial Pavement", including music by John Godfrey, Richard Craig, Yannis Kyriakides and Conlon Nancarrow, as well as the worldwide release of the new version of Michael Gordon's "Trance". This 52-minute work was originally released on Argo in 1996 and has been completely re-worked and re-mixed for the Cantaloupe version.

Icebreaker's first album "Terminal Velocity" (music by Andriessen, Gordon, Lang, Gavin Bryars and Damian le Gassick), also originally on Argo, has also been produced in a remastered version for Cantaloupe.

Other albums include "Rogue's Gallery" (NewTone), with works by Andriessen, Lang, Godfrey, Michael Torke and Steve Martland; a portrait of Diderik Wagenaar (Composers' Voice) and "Extraction (between the lines)", containing music by le Gassick and Gordon McPherson. Contributions to compilation albums include works by Graham Fitkin (Argo), Steve Martland and John Godfrey (Century XXI A - M / NewTone).

Tanzwerk Nürnberg, the West Australian Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet of Seattle have used Icebreaker's recordings for performances. In June 1998, Ashley Page created "Cheating, Lying, Stealing", featuring Icebreaker as guest performers, for The Royal Ballet at Sadler's Wells, a programme which was revived in September/October 2004 for Scottish Ballet.

The 2003/4 season saw a major multi-media collaboration with the renowned Dutch ensemble Orkest de Volharding, and singer Christina Zavalloni, entitled "Big Noise". The project, consisting of four new commissions from leading composers from Britain and Holland, each working in conjunction with a video artist, toured major venues in the UK and the Netherlands.

Other recent projects have included a further performance of "The Book of Five" with the Bochum Symphony Orchestra in Germany, recording the music to the independent American film "Book of Love", and "AtaXia", a collaboration with Wayne McGregor's company Random Dance, based on "Trance", premiered in Sadler's Wells, London in June 2004 with further performances in Amsterdam and New York.

In 2005 Icebreaker were invited to revive Philip Glass's epic 1970 work Music with Changing Parts, which had remained unperformed since 1981. Icebreaker's recording of the piece, based on material recorded live at Dartington College of Arts, was released in spring 2007 on the Orange Mountain Music label.

In 2006 musical director Richard Craig left the group to return to his native Australia.

Members (2008)

*James Poke (artistic director, flutes, pan-pipes, wind-synthesiser, keyboard programming)
*Rowland Sutherland (flutes, pan-pipes, voice)
*Christian Forshaw (saxophones)
*Bradley Grant (saxophones, clarinets)
*Dominic Saunders (keyboards)
*Andrew Zolinsky (keyboards)
*Ian Watson (accordion, keyboards)
*Emma Welton (electric violin)
*Audrey Riley (electric cello, keyboards)
*Dan Gresson (percussion, drums)
*James Woodrow (guitar, bass guitar)
*Pete Wilson (bass guitar)
*Mel (production assistant)
*Ernst Zettl (sound engineer)



Official Bootleg (ICC, 1991, live album, cassette only)

*John Godfrey – "Euthanasia and Garden Implements"
*Damian le Gassick – "Mad LEgs In a Sack"
*Michael Nyman arr J Godfrey - "Think Slow, Act Fast"
*Pete Garvey - "Wires"
*Michael Torke arr J Poke - "The Yellow Pages"
*Michael Gordon – "Acid Rain" (excerpt)
*Diderik Wagenaar - "Tam Tam" (excerpt)'
*Louis Andriessen - "Hoketus" (excerpt)
*I D Mellish - "Son of Cairn"

Terminal Velocity (Argo, 1994)

*Michael Gordon – "Yo Shakespeare"
*Louis Andriessen arr J Poke – "de Snelheid'
*Gavin Bryars – "The Archangel Trip
*Damian le Gassick - "Evol"
*David Lang - "Slow Movement"

Trance (Argo, 1996)

*Michael Gordon – "Trance"

Rogue's Gallery (New Tone, 1997)

*Michael Torke arr T Armstrong & P Wilson - "Vanada"
*David Lang - "Cheating, Lying, Stealing"
*Steve Martland arr J Godfrey - "Shoulder to Shoulder"
*John Godfrey - "Euthanasia and Garden Implements"
*Louis Andriessen - "Hoketus" (live)

Diderik Wagenaar (Composers' Voice / Donemus, 2001)

*Diderik Wagenaar - "Metrum"
*Diderik Wagenaar - "Rookery Hill"
*Diderik Wagenaar - "Tam Tam"

Extraction (between the lines, 2001)

*Damian le Gassick - "Mad Legs in a Sack"
*Gordon McPherson - "The Baby Bear's Bed"
*Mel - "Goldylox" ("Secret Hidden Bonus Track Mix") Remix of The Baby Bear's Bed

Trance (Cantaloupe Music, 2004)

Remix and re-master of Argo album (same track listing)

Cranial Pavement (Cantaloupe Music, 2005)

*Conlon Nancarrow arr J Poke - "Study #2b"
*John Godfrey - "Gallows Hill"
*Yannis Kyriakides - "Blindspot"
*Richard Craig - "Chook"

Terminal Velocity (Cantaloupe Music, 2005)

Re-master of Argo album (same track listing)

Music with Changing Parts (Orange Mountain Music, 2007)

*Philip Glass - "Music with Changing Parts"

Appearances on other albums

Hook, Mesh, Stub, Cud (Argo, 1993)

*Graham Fitkin - "Mesh"

Short Cuts - Breaking the sound Barrier - An Argo Sampler (Argo, 1994)

Includes excerpt from:
*Gavin Bryars - The Archangel Trip (from the album Terminal Velocity, original Argo version)Also contains excerpts of music from other Argo albums by Graham Fitkin, Michael Nyman, David Byrne and others..

Century XXI UK A-M (New Tone, 1996)

*Steve Martland - "Re-mix"
*John Godfrey - "S.U.S.Y.W.I.M.P.S." (despite the claim on the cover and CD that the piece is "Euthanasia...": it is correct in the liner notes)

Bang on a Can plays Lous Andriessen (Cantaloupe Records)

Members of Icebreaker in collaboration with Bang on a Can All-Stars:
*Louis Andriessen - "Hoketus"

External links

* [ Icebreaker]
* [ Bang On A Can]
* [ Cantaloupe Music]
* [ Philip Glass]
* [ Michael Gordon]
* [ Gordon McPherson]
* [ Mel (Ian Mellish)]
* [ Random Dance]
* [ Orkest de Volharding]
* [ Arts Council of England]

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