MIKROORkéSTRA CHAMBER ENSEMBLE
Mikroorkéstra was founded in 2015 by accordionist Martynas Levickis. The young and unique chamber orchestra is comprised of outstanding musicians from Lithuania, giving dynamic performances at the highest international standard. It embodies its founder’s youthful energy and creative artistry.
All orchestra players are handpicked by Martynas Levickis and alongside their work with Mikroorkéstra many of them enjoy positions with Kremerata Baltica, the Baltic Youth Philharmonic, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra. The members are alumni of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, and winners of many international competitions.
With broad and adventurous artistic horizons, the orchestra has developed and
toured a number of pioneering projects, directed by Martynas Levickis from the
accordion or as conductor, including Levickis’ vibrant arrangement for accordion and chamber orchestra of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
Recent projects include a programme centered on the timeless Tango Nuevo of
renowned Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla; performance of works by Italian
baroque master Antonio Vivaldi; the exuberant Classic Live Show for a family
audience; a new interpretations of Mozart Symphonies (Nos. 25/27/28/29) conducted by M.Levickis and Arnold Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht with guest director violinist Lizzie Ball. Mikroorkéstra’s versatile musical projects and the paring of accordion and strings provide a rich and exquisite sound world.
The core string ensemble of Mikroorkéstra can be flexible in size, adapted to
symphonic repertoire or scaled down to programmes for Martynas Levickis with a string quartet of principal players.
“The amazingly talented Martynas Levickis, the man who is single-handedly reinventing the accordion” The Independent
“The brilliant young Lithuanian accordionist is making the music world sit up and reevaluate his instrument as one capable of great expression and emotion” Classic FM
“Come and hear the past, reinvented” Manchester Camerata
Praised by The Times for his “mastery of an instrument once dismissed as a squeezebox”, accordionist Martynas Levickis has captivated audiences and critics alike with his musicality, charisma and dynamic performances. As one of the world’s leading exponents of the accordion, his virtuosity and versatility in the classical and contemporary repertoire has transformed the way we hear the instrument.
Encouraged by his family, at the age of just three Martynas began to teach himself the traditional folk music of his home country, Lithuania. At eight years old he began to learn formally at the S. Sondeckis School of the Arts in his hometown of Šiauliai, before going on to study with Prof. Owen Murray at the Royal Academy of Music in London, followed by postgraduate studies with Prof. Iñaki Alberdi at Musikene in Spain. Martynas has taken masterclasses with Claudio Jacomucci, Friedrich Lips, Masimiliano Pitocco and Matti Rantenen. He is the recipient of over 30 international awards, including winner of the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships. The first accordionist to be signed to Universal Music Decca Classics label, his eponymous debut album went straight to the top of the UK Official Classical Album Chart.
Martynas Levickis has performed at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Shanghai Concert Hall, Waldbühne Berlin, Konzerthaus Berlin, the Seoul Arts Center, St Petersburg Grand Philharmonic Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico, and at festivals such as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein, Dresden, Bremen, Thüringer Bachwochen, MDR Musiksommer, Kissinger Sommer, the International Chamber Music Festival Utrecht, Bath, Dartington, Edinburgh Jazz, Gaida, Henley, Leigo Lake, March Music Days, Petworth, Plush, Spitalfields and St Magnus.
Over the years, Martynas has appeared with various orchestras including the BBC Concert Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Concerto engagements have included performances with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock, the Seoripul Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian National Symphony, Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, London Contemporary Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Geneva Camerata, The Geneva Chamber Orchestra and St Christopher Chamber Orchestra. He has directed the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong, Manchester Camerata, the St Christopher Chamber Orchestra and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra.
In 2015, Martynas founded the Mikroorkéstra chamber orchestra, bringing together outstanding young musicians from across Lithuania. As Artistic Director, he has created a number of touring projects with the Mikroorkéstra, directing from the accordion or as conductor. These have included appearances in Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea and China.
Martynas has enjoyed recent collaborations with Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Anu Tali, Adrian Brendel, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Lizzie Ball, Thomas Gould, Harriet Krijgh, Joanna MacGregor, Avi Avital, David Garrett, SIGNUM saxophone quartet.
Masterclasses and teaching form another important part of Martynas’ work, and in recent years Martynas has led residential courses at Dartington International Summer School and Ruse International March Music Days.
Martynas is the Artistic Director of Vilnius Accordion Music Week and the annual Composers+Summer Academy, which he founded in 2014 to create and premiere new music for accordion with chamber ensemble.
In addition, Martynas continually commissions new musical works. The latest of these, “Savęsp”, was composed for accordion and string quartet by Rūta Vitkauskaitė, and was presented in 2018 as a part of a special programme to mark the centenary of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania.
Forthcoming highlights of Martynas’ touring programme include performances in Israel, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Austria, with concerts at the Felicja Blumental International Music Festival, Buxton Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and as part of the Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg’s concert season. Upcoming concerto engagements include debuts with Baiba Skride, Harriet Krijgh and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, performing Sofia Gubaidulina’s Triple Concerto under the guidance of conductor Dima Slobodeniouk. He will also perform a programme including Mikołaj Majkusiak’s ‘Concerto Classico’ and Ástor Piazzolla’s Suite ‘Punta del Este’ with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra – and is set to appear with the Manchester Camerata as part of their UpClose concert series, in a unique performance that traces the history of dance music from Bach to Beyoncé, Donna Summer to Bulgarian folk.
Martynas Levickis is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of his distinguished contribution to music in his field. He sits on the Advisory Board of the Lithuanian World Arts Council.
Martynas plays a Pigini NÒVA classical accordion, thanks to the generous support of The Lady R Foundation.
Chosen in December 2018 by the Daily Mail as one of the UK’s most inspirational females in a coveted list of 50 outstanding UK women making an impact, and recently awarded an Honorary Masters Degree in November 2018 from The University of Derby, in recognition of her achievements in the field of music and her innovative and creative approach to classical music, Lizzie Ball is steadfastly becoming a woman to watch in the world of musical game-changers.
Known for her multiple skills across many musical styles as an internationally acclaimed violinist, vocalist, educator, and concert producer, Lizzie is a truly unique woman. She has gained great attention for her creation of her brand, Classical Kicks, a refreshing, down-to-earth approach to classical music performance and productions, which began its life as the very first classical night to happen at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club – where it consistently sold out for 4 years worth of shows, presenting everything from world famous string quartets to beat boxing flute players and East End female rappers all presented with a classical twist.
As a lead artist Lizzie has played on the world’s most famous stages with rock and roll’s royalty, has had several critically acclaimed US-wide, and European tours, and still manages to return to her northern roots to host her own Classical Kicks festival in Derbyshire each year.
Lizzie was born in Hathersage, Derbyshire, and attended her local comprehensive school Lady Manners School in Bakewell in the Peak District. Music played a big part in her early life. Her mother had wide-ranging musical tastes and her father was an accomplished jazz pianist. At the age of seven Lizzie heard a violin being played on the radio and decided in that moment that the violin was the instrument she wanted to play. At the age of 10 her mother took her to see a concert by the violinist Nigel Kennedy, she was memorably blown away by his totally unorthodox approach to classical music, even at that young age there was something about this approach that truly resonated with her.
Lizzie became leader of the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra and after achieving top-grade A Levels, gained a place at St John’s College, Cambridge, to read Music where she became principal of the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra and an Instrumental Scholar. She undertook postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, where she studied under the master violinists Yossi Zivoni and David Takeno.
Lizzie has been a genre-crossing musician ever since her time at Cambridge and in her mid-twenties starting adding vocals to her performance. Her desire to present classical music to a wider audience has led to collaborations with a host of well-known artists including Rod Stewart, Russell Watson, Kanye West, Adele, Kylie, DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank and more recently as orchestra leader of an all female group directed by Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell, for the much anticipated Ariana Grande at the BBC’ film, which aired just a few weeks ago on BBC1. (Nov 1 2018).
Fifteen years after first hearing him on stage, Lizzie encountered Nigel Kennedy at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. She told him that he had always been her musical inspiration and he reciprocated by asking her to invite him to her performances. After a few years of Nigel witnessing and keeping a close watch on how Lizzie’s career was progressing , in 2010 he contacted her with an invitation to duet with him and to become the concert master (lead violinist) for the European tour of his newly-formed Orchestra of Life, a job which Lizzie continues to enjoy, and has enjoyed for the past eight years, including several appearances with him as soloist at the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham and Bridgewater Hall, as well as concerts in numerous prestigious European venues such as Berlin Philharmonie and Royal Festival Hall, together with Massive Attack’s Damon Reece and soul singer Carleen Anderson.
Other highlights of Lizzie’s career to date include solo collaborations with Jeff Beck and Brian Wilson between 2013-14 as a featured frontline band member with both artists. Lizzie has also appeared a featured artist with Judith Owen and Bryan Ferry, Grammy-nominated classical choir New York Polyphony, and the James Pearson Trio from Ronnie Scott’s. Performance highlights include headlining as a soloist with Jeff Beck at Madison Square Garden, New York, for Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 and several critically acclaimed US tours of over 60 cities to date. Lizzie also appeared alongside Brian Wilson as a featured violinist and vocalist , performing iconic songs from Pet Sounds on a Double Bill tour of the U.S with Jeff Beck that included venues such as the historic Greek Theatre in L.A and Beacon Theatre in New York. Another standout career moment was leading the historical Palestine Prom for BBC Proms 2013, which involved a collaboration between the Orchestra of Life and the young Palestine Strings with Nigel Kennedy as soloist/musical director at the Royal Albert Hall. The press wrote “Lizzie Ball lit the place on fire with one of her solos” (San Francisco Chronicle). The US Rolling Stone Magazine wrote “the audience seemed mesmerised by the entire thing, especially when young violinist Lizzie Ball took a solo, and channeled Mary Ford’s Vocals on Les Paul’s How high the Moon”.
Since November 2018 Lizzie has been leaving her mark on Lithuania where her recent performances reached multiple national press interest. This collaboration with Lithuanian-born internationally known accordion superstar Martynas Levickis (who released his debut album on Decca in the UK in 2013), and his exciting new young recently state-funded orchestra ‘Mikrookestra’, received an overwhelming standing ovation after Lizzie appeared as her favourite trinity of violin soloist, orchestra director, and vocal soloist, playing an all English programme of Elgar, Holst and Walton, to honour the fallen for Remembrance Day, in St. Catherine’s Church, a former prison for POW’s in World War Two.
Lizzie is passionate about outreach projects and has given hundreds of workshops for various orchestras and projects over the years, involving visits to a wide range of establishments from private boarding schools to Pupil Referral Units, and loves working with young people. More recently Lizzie has been working locally with the brilliant Sheffield Music Hub on a number of projects, including an original commission for a piece for Electric violin and orchestra called ‘The Lone Star’ in partnership with Hugh Sykes Charitable Trust. This piece was composed by Andy Smith together with the children of 6 schools of over 200 children in the Sheffield are in who all also participated in the concert premiere of the piece in December 2017 in Sheffield Cathedral. Lizzie has also become Ambassador for PRISMA, a charity founded by her colleague Morgan Szymanski to help children in need in Mexico by providing arts workshops to rural underdeveloped areas of Mexico. So far the project has reached over 10,000 children in just two years of existence.
More recently, Lizzie has just given a world premiere to international press acclaim in early November at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for her originally created Production, a co-creation with fellow female creative, Producer , Writer and Director Emily Blacksell (whose CV includes work with Sir Paul McCartney and Sally Greene to name but a few) Corrido: A Ballad for the Brave. This is an immersive audio-visual journey about the life and times of Frida Kahlo and her contemporaries, featuring Lizzie’s own compositions alongside Mexican and classical music pieces, paired with originally created animated film and video design -all in a unique collaboration an extraordinary team of creatives and musicians. The premiere of Corrido was in association with the V and A’s acclaimed exhibition of Frida’s own personal items and clothing, named ‘Making Her Self Up’.