There are dozens of housing estates in Lambeth, housing over 80,000 people. However, for various reasons, many of these residents are unable or uninterested in attending evening concerts at distant venues within the borough, let alone across the bustling city of London. Recognizing this challenge, we conceived a bold idea – to bring our orchestra directly to these vibrant icommunities with free concerts, making use of the estates' community centers and shared outdoor spaces.
The first tour was Christmas 2018, when we visited five estates. The project grew substantially the following Christmas, thanks to funding from our first bid to the Arts Council. In 2020, we took advantage of the brief lift in Covid-19 restrictions to deliver a series of outdoor concerts in August, attended by over 300 people, and then again in December, playing to over 500!
Through this project, we've been able to provide live orchestral experiences to entirely new audiences, while also instilling a sense of ownership of the orchestra within the local community. Audiences give great feedback on our varied programmes, often expressing surprise at how much they enjoy the classical repertoire. We've also taken steps to involve the community more actively by including school's performances and extending invitations to local dancers, singers, and rappers to join us in our performances.
BCO is now committed to bi-annual housing estate tours at Christmas and in Summer, offering communities opportunities to come together in celebration of live music and one another. We hope our performances will come to stand as an aspirational example of music making, particularly for young people, exemplifying what dedication and hard work can achieve.
Grime & orchestras are a perfect match. Many of the most popular beats feature string accompaniment, brass shouts or orchestral stabs. We think the forceful and epic nature of the genre is blown up a level by the addition of an orchestra.
In April 2018 we did our first project with rappers, Grime Orchestrated. The event was staged in the Prince of Wales club, in collaboration with producer Treble Cleff and some top MC talent, headlined by Yizzy and a regular Brixton-based collaborator, Terra. We performed orchestral versions of our guests’ songs, as well as premiered original beats, adapting samples from classical music. We rounded off with a freestyle set, playing many of the most classic beats from the last 15 years. The power of a 30-piece orchestra gave the music such drive and intensity, and the variety of instruments meant we could present totally different sound worlds from one tune to the next. It was obvious to us we had to keep this going.
Today, Grime Orchestrated has become a staple project for us. It kicked off with a standout performance at the London Remixed Festival in January 2020, and it has since become a regular fixture at the iconic Hootananny in Brixton. We're passionate about the fusion of rap and classical music, pushing the boundaries by incorporating rap into more intricate forms and diverse time signatures. Keep your eyes peeled; there's much more to come!
Film Orchestrated is a project that marries the magic of the silver screen with live orchestral music. Imagine iconic silent films brought to life by a 15-piece orchestra, using a blend of historical soundtracks, live improvisation, and new compositions.
The project has found its home at the legendary Ritzy cinema in the heart of Brixton, where, in 2022, we carried out our first Film Orchestrated event - a Halloween screening of Dreyer's 'Vampyr' and Disney's 'Skeleton Dance'. The response was incredible, solidifying our
commitment to delivering live orchestral accompaniment to cinema.
This November, we return to the Ritzy with 'Silent Slapsticks', an event that celebrates the timeless humor of comedy silent movies through a series of short films, each accompanied
live by our orchestra.
Fueled by a genuine passion for disco music, Disco Orchestrated draws inspiration from legends like Earth, Wind & Fire and the Bee Gees. Our non-stop set is a celebration of the iconic beats and melodies of disco, but what sets our performance apart is the infusion of intricate orchestral arrangements and captivating live improvisation. We wanted to breathe new life into the disco favourites we hold dear.
The set debuted at Hootananny in June 2022, and since then, we've been spreading the disco fever at renowned events like South London Soul Train and the Camp Wildfire Festival. The response has been nothing short of electrifying, and we've got a lot coming up in 2024. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media for updates!
Our Street Band was born out the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, when live performances were limited to groups of no more than six members and stationary music-making was dsicouraged. Passionate about the power of live performance, we created the Street Band—a dynamic ensemble of five or six musicians who took to the streets, parks, and public spaces, delivering live music right to the heart of our neighborhood.
What began as a passionate response to the restrictions has since gained popularity. The Street Band, with its eclectic repertoire spanning from New Orleans swing to drum & bass and pop, has now expanded to include between eight and nine musicians. And thanks to our Community Fund, a dedicated resource that offsets costs and facilitates free musical experiences for the Lambeth community, the Street Band has become a cherished fixture at community fairs and events.