Schools are invited to join our pioneering ensemble project: Orchestral Evolution. Orchestral Evolution is a new score for a ‘pop-up orchestra’ in your school that welcomes all instruments and abilities. Led by acclaimed guitarist and composer, Chris Woods of The Chris Woods Groove Orchestra (https://chriswoodsgroove.co.uk/), this is an exclusive project for selected Music Hub member schools.
Through this programme students will have the opportunity to work alongside a contemporary composer in a wholly inclusive approach to orchestral playing, no matter their experience or ability. Inspiring them in a new approach to playing as a group, this project will develop their ensemble and musicianship skills, whilst building confidence and understanding in different types of music playing.
AN ORCHESTRA REIMAGINED
Orchestral Evolution was born of an ambition from SoundStorm and Chris Woods to develop a piece that would engage any and all students in ensemble playing; irrespective of experience, musical preference or instrument. The Orchestral Evolution score was developed to be suitable for any student looking for an enriching and inspiring foray into orchestral playing. Whether that be KS3 students tentatively considering future music qualifications, or a KS2 beginner who may have never experienced playing with different instruments before.
After a successful pilot in 2017-18 that saw 150 students across 5 primary and secondary schools take part in workshops, Orchestral Evolution is now being reintroduced to new schools and students. Of previous participants, 81% said that taking part changed their perception of orchestras and 75% ended the project feeling more confident playing an instrument in an ensemble, even if it was an instrument they’re unfamiliar with. For students that may feel daunted in playing as a group, this is an ideal opportunity to experience a new, dynamic way of being conducted and challenged as a musician.
The piece itself comprises a series of loops, adaptable dependent on ability and instrument. Strikingly atmospheric – the piece is likely to be unlike anything students have played before, with a simplicity that encourages expressive playing and multiple layers that enables the final performance to build to a thrilling crescendo.
To experience last year’s programme, watch our video
CREATING YOUR ORCHESTRA
Orchestral Evolution is delivered through a half-day, in-school afternoon workshop with Chris Woods. The workshop is inclusive of teaching the piece to the participants, workshopping/adapting the score to best fit with the instruments available, as well as rehearsal time.
Students should bring along their instrument or an instrument they would like to play. In the past, Orchestral Evolution has included electric guitar, synths, ukuleles, melodicas, French horns, djembes, violins, singers, and much more. This would work well as a progression route for students who have begun to learn an instrument or who are looking to take their playing to the next level.
A POP-UP PERFORMANCE
We are asking all participating schools to put on an informal sharing of the piece at the end of the day to parents, teachers and/or other students. The final sharing provides a tangible experience for students to recognise their development over the afternoon – progressing from never having seen the piece, to playing as an eclectic ‘pop-up orchestra’ within the space of an afternoon. Performing as an ensemble builds confidence amongst players, as well as providing parents the opportunity to see their child in action.
For those inspired by the piece, there will be an additional, exciting opportunity for some students from each school to reconvene in Summer Term to perform Orchestral Evolution at our outdoor festival to an audience of 500+.
To bring Orchestral Evolution to your school contact Rachel at Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred dates (the more choice the better), numbers and background of participating students (e.g 25 Year 7 pupils of mixed ability).