Orchestras alive and thriving across the country

Last May at the RPS Music Awards, Orchestras Live won the Audiences and Engagement Award for Classically Yours, their multi-orchestra, multi community project in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

They had an incredibly busy summer celebrating their achievement and bringing more music to communities all over the country. We hear from Jane Macpherson, their Communications Strategist about what they got up to… 

East Riding Youth Dancers receiving RPS award
East Riding Youth Dancers meet the RPS Music Award silver lyre!

Orchestras Live has been living its motto this summer – orchestras are for everyone – as we’ve criss-crossed the country bringing classical orchestral music to communities everywhere. It got off to an early start when we won the RPS Audiences and Engagement Award for Classically Yours. It’s a great example of how live orchestral music can connect dispersed communities, inspiring the young and rejuvenating the older .

East Riding of Yorkshire girls receiving RPS award for Classically Yours
Celebrating at the beach: East Riding of Yorkshire Girls with the RPS Music Awards lyre.

We wanted to share the celebrations with all those communities whose creative spirit earned Classically Yours its recognition of excellence, so over the summer we took our shiny silver lyre on tour in East Riding, from beaches to car parks.  We had a day at the seaside with the Halle Family concert in Bridlington Spa, and joined an enthusiastic audience at Flemingate car park in the market town of Beverley, for Multi-Story Orchestra’s first performance in the North of England.

Multi Story Orchestra
Multi-Story Orchestra in concert

Way down the coast, Orchestras Live co-produced two very special moments marking local history.  In Great Yarmouth, 250 people from 15 schools remembered the centenary of World War I, and played alongside a 50 piece BBC Concert Orchestra in Requiem.  Composer Sarah Freestone wove together music and words from individual WWI stories (captured by spoken word compositions, drama scenes and a massed choir performance from 200 primary school children), each rooted in Great Yarmouth, commemorating the 1,472 servicemen in the area who lost their lives.

OAE at Holt Country Park SB 7
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at Holt Country Park

Further back into history, Paston Footprints in July celebrated the 600th anniversary of the first letter of Medieval North Norfolk’s Paston family. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment engaged with all ages, in all kinds of settings – nurseries, care homes, a country park and – it was nearly holiday time after all – pubs in North Norfolk. Central to this extraordinary project was the world premiere of Agnes – a pocket oratorio, a new work commissioned from Norfolk-based composer Sarah Rodgers and celebrating the life of Agnes Berry Paston.

Original Paston letter
Original Paston letter
Paston 600 SB 3
Celebrating 600 years of Paston

In June, Orchestras Live worked with Music Technologist Ben Sellars and the music education hub in Leicestershire to explore new ways of delivering music education and instrumental tuition in special schools.  We worked with two schools on Shine – one composed music using traditional instruments and voice with Sinfonia Viva and the other used digital software on ipads.  Swapping ipads and instruments each group composed a response to each other, and then performed at De Montfort Hall in Leicester – a truly digital project!

Able Orchestra 068
Able Orchestra in concert a few years ago (c) Reg Clegg

We premiered a new music instrument with Able Orchestra this summer too – Digit 1 is ground-breaking new technology developed by music producer Si Tew, who’s worked with wheelchair users to transform a wheelchair mobility controller into a musical instrument.  We’re really excited to be part of this project; Able Orchestra is going from strength to strength and is a fantastic example of how inclusive ensembles are taking classical music in new directions.

No summer postcard would be complete without a mention of music festivals. A highlight for classical music was James Roses’ BSO Resound ensemble performing their Relaxed Prom, while we at Orchestras Live have been on the Kent coast – around Romney Marsh and its famous medieval churches, as part of JAM on the Marsh, and in the Deal Music and Arts Festival.

James Rose and BSO Resound performing at the BBC Proms 2018.

September is always an exciting time as new autumn programmes unfold.  If you’re inspired by our summer, read more about our work  on our website.

By Jane Macpherson, Communications Strategist at Orchestras Live.

Follow Orchestras Live on Twitter @OrchestrasLive.

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