Since my last blog post the BSO have launched their new disabled-led ensemble, BSO Resound. I am delighted to welcome the six founding musicians of BSO Resound; Siobhan Clough (violin/ viola), Philip Howells (percussion), Roger Preston (cello), Kate Risdon (flute), Matthew Scott (clarinet) and Charlotte Bott (LinnStrument).
A call was sent out for musicians to join this new ensemble yielding an incredible response from people all over the world. Eleven musicians were shortlisted for audition. The audition process consisted of two contrasting pieces being played followed by a 10 minute informal discussion with a panel consisting of Lisa Tregale (Head of BSO Participate), Alexander Campkin (BSO Change Makers Composer-in-Residence), Roger Preston (BSO Musician), Doug Bott (Artistic Director of Open Music, a disabled-led organisation) and myself.
We were looking for a mix of personalities within the ensemble which would create a balanced group in terms of dynamic as well musical skill and passion. In the final selection meeting that followed on, we all agreed unanimously as to which musicians should join the ensemble, and so BSO Resound, the BSO’s disabled-led ensemble, was formed! The BSO is the first professional symphony orchestra in the world to have a disabled-led ensemble as a core part of its activities. Due to the nature of the ensemble we are exploring new ways of working, such as adapting customs and working with players who play instruments which are new to mainstream orchestral and chamber music, which I find really exciting.
The reception BSO Resound has had from the media and the general public has been incredible. In February, we had BBC South Today come to a morning rehearsal to do some filming. I had the opportunity to speak with the producer about BSO Resound and our aims for the future.
Appearing on regional television was exciting enough but then the piece got picked up by the national BBC and appeared on their weekend Breakfast news programme. The film was also featured on the homepage of the BBC News website.
I did not expect this level of coverage but I am absolutely delighted that the work we’re doing is being seen by people around the world. It is important to celebrate new ways of making music and to view them as an advantage because of how they encourage creativity. We live in such a strange world where we are surrounded by anger and negativity but what we are doing is really positive as it shows what is possible.
The last few months have been about getting the repertoire right for the ensemble. Half of the musicians are still learning about what they are doing and the other half have a lot of experience in the orchestral sector. So I have been working with Lisa (Head of Participate) and Amber (Participate Coordinator) to determine what level of complexity we can go for. We have just finished four ensemble rehearsals which went fantastically well.
In a few months’ time, I will lead BSO Resound in a series of public performances and workshops to disabled and non-disabled young people and adults held at special schools and venues.
I am really excited to finally be able to say that our first major UK performance will be at the BBC Relaxed Prom on Monday 27 August at the Royal Albert Hall!
Since finding out our involvement in the proms in February, we have had to keep it under wraps waiting for the BBC’s press launch. As you can imagine, this has been excruciating! All of the team here are looking forward to it as we progress and consolidate from day to day.
The fact that we’re performing at the Proms probably won’t hit me until the last few weeks before the event. My focus is on doing the work needed for us to be ready for the Proms – learning pieces, constantly reviewing rehearsals and adjusting future ones in response to the needs of the ensemble, as well as honing my conducting and practice regime. There are many other exciting things happening and it is like riding on a constant merry-go-round spinning at a rate of knots perpetually picking up speed! There’s much to be done and I’m actively focussing on the job at hand rather than thinking about future excitements!