A BBC Music project recently inspired more than 50 musicians of all ages from the Bath area to form a full-size pop-up orchestra. People aged 6 to 60, from beginner to professional, came together to perform as a full symphony orchestra for the day.
The day was the brainchild of Michelle Falcon and Ruth O’Shea, founders of Bath Strings Academy, who wanted to expand their music workshops for children after finding out their parents and grandparents also wanted to join in.
“The BBC Ten Pieces project was the perfect vehicle for our orchestral extravaganza,” said Ruth. “Each year the BBC chooses ten pieces of classical music to introduce to young people. Many Bath schools have already shared these pieces with their pupils, and we thought this could be something to bring the generations together.”
Indeed a number of whole families signed up, with one family having five members all playing together, as well as adults and children who had never played in an orchestra before.
“At the age of 51, it’s the first time I’ve ever played in an orchestra,” said oboe player Emma Gurr. “I’ve always played an instrument, but the oboe for just 18 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, added, “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 lively 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”.
Bath Strings Academy is currently running a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to fund bursaries and future workshops. “We want to be able to do more,” Michelle explained. “We need the whole community to work together so that we can make sure everyone can access high quality musical experiences in Bath.”
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