Clare Simmonds, piano

Clare’s path to a career in music is a little unusual: growing up in a musical family, she played the piano, violin, organ, and she sang, but her academic talent was such that she ended up studying History at Cambridge. She subsequently spent ten years as publications manager for Pearson Publishing Ltd. But the desire to make music wouldn’t go away, and she began a long and intensive process of piano studies, that now includes distinction in two Masters – one in solo piano from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and one in piano accompaniment from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Photo in colour
Clare Simmonds

All the while, Clare has been throwing herself into performing, particularly with The Duruflé Trio (flute, viola and piano), which she formed in 2015 and which has already attracted awards, winning the St James Chamber Music Prize (2015) and Ivan Sutton Chamber Music Prize (2016) and being a Wigmore Hall Chamber Tots Ensemble for 2016-17.

Classically trained musicians sometimes struggle with improvisation, but Clare Simmonds is an outstanding exception. She has a real hunger for this form of music-making, and she brings to it high levels of technical skill, but above all, the precise and instant ability to listen and respond in real time. Simmonds has studied and performed classical and baroque techniques of improvisation, and she combines this with an avaricious appetite for contemporary music. It all blends together to form a unique perspective which she brings to Bay’s Leap, a trio that straddles the cultures both of new music and London’s dynamic free improvisation scene.

James Barralet, cello

You only have to hear one note from cellist James Barralet to know one thing: this guy can play. It’s the tone, so cultured and mature, that sings out to you. James has wide-ranging musical interests. Classically trained, he studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Hannah Roberts and at Basel Hochschule fur Musik with Thomas Demenga, graduating in 2006 with a Solistendiplom, a first class honours degree, a professional performance diploma and a post-graduate diploma with distinction. He was for ten years a regular participant at the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove spring masterclasses, where he studied with Steven Isserlis, Ralph Kirshbaum, Miklos Perenyi, and Boris Pergamenschikow.

He has been a guest cellist of many of the UK’s professional orchestras including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, Aurora Orchestra, Guildford Symphony and plays regularly with the John Wilson Orchestra.

He also loves improvisation, and in addition to playing with Bay’s Leap, he is a member of Ignite, Wigmore Hall’s improvisation and outreach group.

James Barralet

He has given recitals at many of the UK’s important venues and festivals, including the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, and Bridgewater Hall, and at the Newbury Spring Festival, Northern Aldborough Festival, Music In The Round and Whittington International Chamber Music Festival (which he founded). He has recorded three solo CDs – the first, solo cello music by Kodaly, Britten and Roxburgh, was a prize for winning the Landor Records Competition in 2007.

Noel Taylor, soprano & bass clarinet

Noel Taylor (Photo: Nadjib le Fleurier)

Gifted, dedicated and innovative, Noel Taylor is an inspired improviser. Performing regularly in the UK, as well as in Poland, Germany, Italy and Portugal, Noel brings a freshness and intensity to every improvisation that makes him a joy to play with.

As one of the regular ‘conductors’ for both the London & the Berlin Improviser Orchestras, Noel has played with them at many venues including Ronnie Scott’s, Kings Place and Café Oto. He has also conducted in Rome, Portugal and Sicily. His conductions often display a strong sense of tonal structure, and the same sensibility colours his playing with Bay’s Leap.

His work also includes composition; using music as a form of cultural intervention; and organising musical events. For five years he curated the ‘Luna Fringe’ series, and since then has created many events at venues such as Arch1 in West Ham, i’klectik, Shoreditch Church, Lumen. His projects cover a wide range of styles and soak up many influences – enabling him to have recorded with at least six different improvisation ensembles (one of which, Splatter, has made three CDs to date), and to have formed many other ad-hoc partnerships. Noel has played with most leading improvisers in the UK and Europe, and alongside that wide-ranging experience, he brings to Bay’s Leap a precisely-honed awareness of his own melodic gifts, constant inspiration for his fellow improvisers, and an overall true commitment to his craft.