Community orchestras are being put under the spotlight this week as five inspirational groups have been nominated for this year’s Gramophone Music In The Community award.
Organised by the classical music magazine alongside the Times and Making Music, the UK’s organisation for voluntary music, the award aims to recognise the work done by the voluntary music sector in changing lives through music.
Members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite orchestra through the Times website. The five shortlisted amateur groups do not necessarily have top class playing standards, but have been shown to bring enjoyment and mental wellbeing to their members.
Up for the award is the British Police Symphony Orchestra, which has 80 players who also work for the police in their day job or are connected to the force. It performs concerts to raise money for charities, but the orchestra has also formed marriages, principal percussionist Danny Mizon told the Times.
Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Youth Orchestra, meanwhile, includes 26 ensembles and provides music education for 8,000 pupils in 166 schools, at the same time as putting on concerts to a high musical standard.
The Cobweb Orchestra is also up for the award. Its purpose is to encourage adults to start playing their instruments again, although it also has an ‘instrument bank’ to allow members to try out different instruments.
“There are also many people who made music at university and now have a gap in their lives,” orchestra administrator Catherine Shackell told the Times.
Contrastingly, the East London Late Starters Orchestra invites adults to pick up an instrument for the first time and under the guidance of professional tutors.
Really Terrible Orchestra makes up the shortlist. Co-created by author Alexander McCall Smith 16 years ago, the Edinburgh-based group was set up “to encourage those who have been prevented from playing music, either through lack of talent or some other factor, to play [with] similarly afflicted players”.
The orchestra to receive the most votes will be reported in the Times on October 7th.
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