The shortlist for Battle of the Bands 2019 has been announced. Featuring a smorgasbord of new and experimental music, the following finalists will battle it out in front of judges Eleanor Ward (nonclassical’s Executive Director), conductor Jessica Cottis and award-winning composer Dominic Murcott for the coveted first prize:

  • 4|12 Collective, a group dedicated to performing contemporary and experimental music

  • Composer and artistic director Joe Bates

  • Saxophonist and recorder player James Hurst

  • Scordatura Women’s Music Collective, a group performing the music of women composers

  • Yangqin player Reylon

  • Performance based art project Rita Says and The Jerico Orchestra

They’ll be performing at The Victoria, Dalston on 23 January, tickets of which are still available on our website.

Joe Bates

Joe Bates is a composer and artistic director whose work challenges the gaps between genres, blending the riffs and harmonies of rock with structures and instrumentation drawn from contemporary classical music. His music combines intense, still, driven riffs, drifting synth sounds and notes that fall into the gaps of the traditional Western scale. It’s music about desire at a remove. A hot summer through a haze, a search for flow through mental obstacles, a desire for calm and clarity against a more proximate desire for stimulation and novelty. This has produced a sound that is both flat, slightly distant, and yet filled with energy and motion. He will be performing tracks from his Flim Flam EP.

James Hurst

James Hurst is a solo improviser for woodwind instruments, primarily; Saxophone, Clarinet and Recorder. He will be performing Part One of The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld, an improvised reaction to the ancient Assyrian short epic from the late Bronze Age. The prologue is for Alto Saxophone and Part 1 is for Alto Recorder.

4|12 Collective

Dedicated to performing contemporary and experimental music, 4|12 Collective are a newly formed ensemble based in London. They are:

  • Epsie Thompson – flute

  • Benny Vernon – trombone

  • Giancarlo Palena – accordion

  • Olivia Palmer-Baker – bassoon

  • Stuart Beard – tuba

  • Toby Cook – viola

They’ll be performing James Saunders’ Instruments with Recordings.

Scordatura Women’s Music Collective

Scordatura Women’s Music Collective is a mixed chamber ensemble dedicated to performing music written by women. Their repertoire reaches back to the 16th century, and also encompasses contemporary and world music. They are committed to promoting music written by women which has been unfairly neglected; to support and perform current composers; and to inspire the next generation of women to compose. This Battle of the Bands, they’ll be playing Gabriela Lena Frank’s Las Sombras de los Apus, a work which requires each cello to be tuned differently to create a fascinating landscape.


Reylon is a performer, composer, and improviser from San Francisco who plays the yangqin, a Chinese percussive string instrument. Trained in Chinese classical repertoire, he has received numerous awards for his solo playing and collaborates across contemporary classical, experimental, and indie folk scenes. Reylon has performed internationally with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble at venues ranging from the TED mainstage to Lincoln Center, and he appeared as a featured artist on the Ensemble's 2017 GRAMMY-winning album, Sing Me Home. In 2018, he received a Tier 1 Exceptional Promise visa endorsed by Arts Council England. A Harvard graduate and Marshall Scholar, Reylon's current work explores the meaning of “Chinese” and attempts to open a window into spaces beyond the China/West dichotomy.

He performs Rituals and Resonances for Solo Yangqin, composed for Reylon by Chinese-British composer Alex Ho, and born out of the artists' shared desire to explore stories of the Chinese diaspora. 'Rituals and Resonances' attempts to engage with the paradoxical sense of nostalgia one may feel for a place one did not grow up in. The piece takes as its musical framework an exploration of the relationship between sound and its resonance. Just as one does not have (or need) control over their heritage and origins, a sound may include resonances far removed from its initial perception that although appear incongruous, are in fact quintessential to its being.

Rita Says and The Jerico Orchestra

Rita Says and The Jerico Orchestra is a performance based art project started in 2008. Their intention is to define a connection between fine art performance practise and the history of contemporary music. They use real time physical action in space combined with visual projection to "compose" and "conduct" music pieces; blending choreography, visuals and sound. They will be performing Paragraph 7 of The Great Learning by Cornelius Cardew.