You might wonder why a CD of light music should be titled “lollipops”. As a group, the Lochrian Ensemble have always ended their concerts with a few encore pieces from their lighter repertoire. This has become one of their trademark qualities and their audiences always seem to enjoy a little Joplin or a Gershwin tune after a more serious classical programme. A lollipop, in the musical sense, was a term first used by Sir Thomas Beecham in connection with music played at his concerts. For him, a lollipop was an encore in complete contrast to the dramatic, rousing endings to his programmes. He introduced the lollipop, generally a ‘syrupy, soapy, soothing piece’, to ‘reduce the audience’s emotional temperature’. Everyone would then leave the concert hall calm and happy. When they first decided to make a CD, they thought putting together a series of their favourite lollipops might make an attractive recording. Each piece featured on this CD has been used as an encore by them. Not all, however, are of the soothing nature favoured by Sir Thomas. Some, such as Fiddle-Faddle, are fast and furious because, contrary to Sir Thomas, they feel that it does little harm to the audience to leave a concert on an emotional high.
Four young university and music college graduates first formed the Lochrian Ensemble in 1991. Since then the group has become one of the leading chamber ensembles in the South West of England and is in great demand for a wide variety of engagements ranging from festival concerts to television and film recordings. The ensemble has collaborated with the English composer Colin Bayliss in the production of a double CD of his complete string quartets. The last quartet in the collection, in locrian mode, is dedicated to them. The group has a special interest in music by women composers and aims to raise the profile of this rarely performed repertoire through concerts and educational workshops. The Lochrian Ensemble has performed nationwide, and plans include concerts at festivals in both Germany and Canada. It welcomes the opportunity to work with other musicians to form both larger and smaller chamber groups. The ensemble has subsequently performed a wide variety of repertoire from the chamber music genre as well as accompanying choral works and operatic productions.