Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Very best wishes to the Stirling Orchestra as they compete in on All Together Now, which is being broadcast on BBC4 at 9pm this evening.

The competition to find Britain's best amateur orchestra is also testimony to the extraordinary efforts and commitments of amateur musicians across these islands, and to the continued local cultivation of vital traditions of orchestral music making.

Formed in 1983 by a small group of amateur musicians, Stirling Orchestra now numbers 65 to 70 players. The membership is drawn largely from the Stirling area, although several come from much further afield, and embraces a wide range of backgrounds: professionals, students from Stirling University, retirees and the unemployed. Stirling Orchestra performs two or three concerts a year in Stirling’s Albert Halls and presents eclectic repertoire ranging from the ‘classics’ to 20th century, film scores and more.

Recent performances include a musical expedition to the South Pole, in which images from Scott’s ill-fated expedition provided the backdrop for Vaughan Williams’s 'Sinfonia Antartica', and a double matinee for families in which young children danced round the orchestra, while their older siblings filmed the performance and tried their hand at playing the instruments. Stephen Broad has been the orchestra’s conductor for the past 12 years. He is married to Joëlle Broad, who is leader of the orchestra.

More at: www.stirlingorchestra.org.uk. On Twitter: @StirlingOrch

Monday, August 22, 2016


Turning the most unlikely venue into an instrument itself, leading to a new experience of aural sculpture.

"The incorporation of traditional instruments and songs from wildly different cultures, held in a historical military site, was spooky at times. Artistic director Ann Norman played the shakuhachi, Mizrahi the violin and viola, Gruner the violin and mandolin.

"The sound of Sarah Hopkins’ harmonic whirlies – plastic tubes spun around by hand to catch the air – was reminiscent of a Peter Weir soundtrack. West Papuan musicians and activists Henk and Amanda Rumbewas brought their traditional music and protest songs, playing guitar and a goanna skin drum. Henk Rumbewas’ voice boomed through the space, ringing in the audiences’ ears. Yolngu songman Jason Gurruwiwi sang from his homelands on Elcho Island in a deep, clear voice."

Listen to Tunnel Number Five (Hel Davidson) on Soundcloud.