Our Essential Orchestra goes rural…
You might have heard(!) that it’s our 25th Anniversary, which means we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting recently on what we’ve achieved and what we’d like to do next. One of the biggest developments over the last few years has been the creation of our Essential Orchestra, and we think that now is a good time to celebrate its success so far and share our hopes for its future.
Created in 2015, The Essential Orchestra was designed to break the mould of a standard orchestral concert experience, taking all the instruments you’d normally find, just on a smaller scale (between 18-21 players) and adding props, theatrical sets and acting to the job descriptions for our musicians! Unusually, there isn’t a conductor, but the leader directs the shenanigans from their seat, with Owen (CCC’s presenter) often helping out when he’s not playing percussion or running around the front of the stage.
Ever since its premiere performance, The Essential Orchestra has explored various different themes – from the stories of Roald Dahl to myths and legends of Scotland; sporting tunes to the iconic Peter and the Wolf. We’ve been lucky enough to have pieces of music written especially for the orchestra and been fortunate to work with so many virtuoso soloists. Next on the list is a leap down the rabbit hole into the magical and mysterious Wonderland…but more on that another time.
A massive plus for the Essential Orchestra is the flexibility it gives – allowing us to spread CCC’s activity and values. For instance, we’ve only recently been able to return to Aberdeen after some 20 year-gap between the last symphony orchestra concert and our first visit with The Essential Orchestra. This is a step in the right direction, but we want to do more and keep pushing further afield.
We believe every child should have the opportunity to hear an orchestra perform and experience one of our events. But, you simply can’t fit an orchestra into a small community hall or classroom, so how do we reach the children that live in the more remote parts of Scotland?
Answer: We film one of our concerts and screen it in a local cinema.
More and more community cinemas are popping up all over the country and if the National Theatre can take their productions anywhere then why can’t we?!
So….back in August we filmed our Glasgow concerts of Peter and the Wolf (and other stories). Along with some bonus footage gathered when the audience weren’t there – some interviews and behind the scenes shots, we’re excited to say that we’ve put together our first ‘The Essential Orchestra presents…’film.
Our plan is to tour this film around the Highlands and Islands in 2020 (wherever we can’t feasibly take the full orchestra) offering school pupils the chance to experience what children in the cities get access to all year round, without the need to travel.
It’s not just about watching an orchestra on a screen, we want them to hear music played ‘live’ too. In addition to the film we’ll send some of the featured musicians along with it. They’ll perform their own mini concert and lead one of our popular workshops for the schools that attend.
It all sounds great, but don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what some of the Peter and the Wolf musicians have said for themselves:
“We get to show our audiences that music is for everyone and you can enjoy our concerts no matter where you live, what age you are or how much you know about the pieces. I also really enjoy going to different parts of the country and helping young people make music. I love being a musician, so it’s great to share something I enjoy and infect other people with how much fun it is”. Emma Roche, Flute & The Bird
“Peter and the Wolf is such a famous story and piece of music and it features some of the orchestra’s ‘endangered species’ instruments – the oboe, bassoon and French horn so it’s an extra special piece of music to be able to show off how brilliant these instruments are – and fun to play!” Catherine Earnshaw, Oboe & The Duck
“I love working for CCC. The camaraderie between the players in the Essential Orchestra is superb. We can have a real laugh while still taking the music seriously, which I think is such a huge part in music making. If we can reach children that would not normally have a chance to go to one of the live concerts then we will have given them a chance to engage in a musical world that will leave them enchanted.” Heather Brown, Bassoon & The Grandfather
“I play the horn so I get to play the part of the Wolf. My character is involved in almost the entire story and thus I have the luxury of many opportunities to express myself and draw responses from the audience. These responses range from alarm to laughter.” Fergus Kerr, French Horn & The Wolf
“Working for CCC reminds me of why I wanted to be a musician in the first place. This project is so important. Being able to give youngsters in more rural areas and remote communities the opportunity to see our innovative version of Peter and The Wolf is very exciting. Whether it gives a youngster a single, memorable musical experience or inspires the desire in them to take up a musical instrument the important thing is that they are given the experience.” Fran Barker, Clarinet & The Cat
The team at CCC HQ are incredibly excited about the project and the prospect of taking some CCC magic to Orkney, Shetland, Lewis, Skye and beyond. If you’d like more information about The Essential Orchestra presents… or you know of somewhere or someone who might be interested, please just get in touch!