As our series on new London music continues apace, it becomes clear that Londonist has been neglecting the more refined aspects of our city’s musical output in favour of what can most honestly be described as London’s renowned toilet circuit. With that in mind we bring you the first in an occasional strand focusing on London’s orchestras, choirs, operatic societies and so on (‘classical’ being the best term we can find to describe such classic musical endeavours).
And, in our view, Orchestra of the City is a fine way to start. Formed in 2003, the orchestra is a genuine representation of the city, comprised of teachers, nurses, solicitors, bankers, doctors, researchers, scientists, recording engineers, arts administrators and a raft of other professionals. These good folk are playing for the love of music and performance; music still in copyright is very expensive to hire, so income to sustain the orchestra comes almost entirely from ticket sales and member subscriptions (performers pay £35 per concert to play).
Since its first concert in 2003, the Orchestra of the City has given over 60 performances around London with world premieres, international soloists, operetta, TV and film scores, and a huge range of orchestral music. The orchestra gives talented and enthusiastic musicians the opportunity to play in an ensemble of the highest standard, with a challenging repertoire as varied as its members. Future plans and programmes are usually discussed over a drink in the pub near the rehearsal venue in Edgware Road; the key figures are orchestra leader Rebecca Smith, co-leader Matt Pay, orchestra manager (and Principal Second Violin) Caroline Ferry and musical director Chris Hopkins.
Time for a musical interlude: Orchestra of the City performing Elgar’s In the South earlier this year, accompanied by some marvellous images of the players.
The orchestra’s next concert is next Thursday (10 July), featuring the music of Strauss, Dvorak and Rachmaninoff. On 16 October, they will perform a programme of British music, as their contribution to the First World War centenary commemorations. Then, on 4 December they will tackle the rigours of Smetana, Britten and Tchaikovsky. All three concerts will take place at the orchestra’s regular home, St. James’s Piccadilly.
Orchestra of the City prides itself as one of the friendliest musical collectives around — the string players even talk to the woodwind in a rare showing of cross-party cordiality. We have no hesitation in recommending them as an orchestra London can be proud of. And one which deserves your bum on a seat at one of its upcoming shows.
Orchestra of the City performs at St. James’s Piccadilly at 7.30pm on 10 July, with tickets priced £12 (plus booking fee). The orchestra can also be found on Facebook and Twitter and donations are gratefully accepted at JustGiving.