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Blasting off on a Great Orchestra Experiment

Blasting off on a musical adventure last Wednesday were almost 1500 pupils from Nottingham primary schools. But this was no NASA mission – it was Nottingham Music Hub’s Great Orchestra Experiment at Nottingham’s Albert Hall. A 100 piece orchestra made up of Music Service staff, local professional and semi-professional musicians and members of the Robin Hood Youth Orchestra played all the pieces from the stage with support from the young players from St Mary’s Hyson Green, Bulwell St Mary’s, Greenfields, Dovecote, Hempshill Hall, St Margaret Clitherow, Portland Spencer, Claremont, Heathfield, St Augustine’s, Radford, Warren, Forest Fields, Bluebell Hill, Rise Park, Southwold, Seely, Middleton, Mellers, Stansted, Scotholme, Glade Hill, Bentinck, Melbury, Haydn, Robin Hood, Dunkirk, William Booth and Southwark schools! (Sorry if we missed anyone off!)

Over two concerts we were transported to Jupiter (by Holst of course!) and then across the globe with musical wizardry from South America’s samba swinging rhythms in the number Micaela and powerful, pounding percussion from India, West Africa and Japan in form of tablas, djembes and taikos in the world music fusion piece Fire Track. There were exciting challenges from our shipmate narrators and we were wowed by brilliant soloists: singers in Van Morrison’s Moondance, although very much in the style of Michael BublĂ©, and on the trumpet in Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in Eb.

The best moments though were when all the young players were singing and playing – particularly when singing along to Jupiter, plus the counting and swaying along challenges during the piece – and the orchestra playing John Williams’ Star Wars Overture, complete with all the orchestra’s strings players having LED lights on their bows to make them look like lightsabers! There was also the amazing response of the young players when the smoke machine went off!

This was the third annual Great Orchestra Experiment from the Music Service and there were schools clamouring to sign up for next year! With so many of Nottingham’s schools taking part we’re hoping every single one of them will be signing off their “be involved in a play, concert or exhibition” challenge. It was a fantastic event and we’ll be looking forward to next year’s too.

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