The quirkiest of British acoustic bands, straddling pop group and classical chamber ensemble. Unusual line-up including bassoon, penny-whistle, viola, kora, flute and sax as well as guitar, bass, piano and vocals. Our aim is to push the boundaries of the popular song format and to explore arranging and singing styles in a band full of multi-instrumentalists, improvisers and vocalists. If you've just arrived on this page, try listening to our songs. As you can see we are not a young handsome boy-band trying to make it big on the pop scene. Nor are we a bunch of grumpy old men that play in pubs... well, only sometimes. The age range spans three decades. We don't feature a lead singer - 3 different vocalists take different songs. We never play covers of other peoples' music - and we don't use a drumkit.
Hugh Nankivell - piano, vocals, songwriting and more
Graham Browning - acoustic guitar, vocals, songwriting
Jim Pywell - bassoon, melodica and African instruments
Michael Massey, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
James Squire - saxophones, flute, percussion
Nankivell's Optet came into being in January 2001 when Hugh called together a group of musicians to record 10 songs he'd written the year before. Some of the musicians came from a group assembled for Operaville, a docu-opera written with 7 families in Bradford as an interpretation of their lives at the turn of the millennium. Hence the "Op" bit of "Optet". Hugh had met Graham at a songwriting workshop in Huddersfield, and they found that a fruitful creative partnership developed. With more new songs arriving every week, it was decided that a smaller group should be assembled to work regularly on developing the material. The most intensive period of work as a band followed from mid 2001 to the spring of 2003. During this period the band recorded 3 CDs and toured the north of England with an additional trio of musicians from Opera North.
Yes, in Yorkshire mostly.
Too many to list (though we've been compared to Penguin Cafe Orchestra & late Beatles). The music crosses so many genres it is unclassifiable. Influences drawn from our diverse musical backgrounds include blues, opera, country & western, jazz, punk rock, classical, singer-songwriter, free improvisation, pop, folk, contemporary post-modernist and world music.