We couldn't be prouder of the musicians who came together at Bath Spa University on Sunday 13th May. Over fifty musicians of all ages joined to form a full-size pop-up orchestra for the day. Players of all instruments aged 6 to 60, from beginner to professional, worked together to prepare a concert for friends and family at the end of the day as a full symphony orchestra.
Keep reading to see the video of the day...
The BBC Ten Pieces project was the perfect vehicle for our orchestral extravaganza because it is repertoire that is familiar to many of our musicians. Several Bath schools have already used the BBC resources to introduce their pupils to the selected pieces, and we wanted to give them an opportunity to experience playing them in a large-scale orchestra. The idea of inviting not only other instrumentalists beyond the string section, but also players of all ages, was to bring the generations together in a shared musical endeavour. Indeed a number of whole families signed up, with one family having five members all playing together, as well as adults and children for whom this was their first experience of playing in an orchestra.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever played in an orchestra at the age of 51,” said oboe player Emma Gurr. “I’ve always played an instrument, but the oboe for just eighteen months. It was found in a skip, in its box and fully working. Playing with everyone on Sunday made me feel part of a group even though I was the only oboe player. It was a very special day. I learnt so much and it has given me loads more confidence.”
Ellie Hoyle, aged 11 who plays the flute said: “Today was really, really good. It was my first time playing with a full orchestra and it was absolutely amazing! We all worked really hard on the piece and at the start I struggled a bit but they helped me get better until I was confident with it and the final performance was brilliant!”
The workshop was led by dynamic conductor Eugene Monteith, who brought his energy and wealth of experience with orchestras such as BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Ulster Orchestra to share with the local musicians as they performed music including Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down from Rodeo in front of a full audience at the Michael Tippett Centre, at Bath Spa University.
“It’s been a delight for me to be here today. I’ve had such a wonderful time,” Monteith told the audience during the final performance. “I am very, very proud of what this marvellous group of musicians has achieved. Incredible”.
Professional violinist Lucy Hewson, who joined as a mentor, enthused: "How amazing that Bath String Academy created a high quality, fun and engaging musical experience for players from beginners to advanced students, young children through to adults, in a one day workshop."
We are keen to do more of this kind of work. Bath Strings Academy is currently running a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to fund bursaries and future workshops.
With music education experiencing budget cuts across the board, we need the whole community to work together so that we can make sure everyone can access high quality musical experiences in Bath and surrounding areas.
To help us achieve this, you can donate and share our campaign at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bath-strings-academy-music-for-all .