Orchestras Inc. with Anna Macken

Orchestras Inc. is West Sussex Music’s first foray into creating and developing accessible and inclusive music-making opportunities for children & young people from across the county. We’re starting from scratch, giving us the creative space to think hard about the form we’d like these music-making experiences to take. Geography is a challenge, and as a music hub we need to support our instrumental tutors to develop their facilitation skills. In the past we’ve looked to Brighton/ Surrey for their rich supply of facilitators! Now we’re supporting our own rich resource of tutors to get involved through training and experiential work.

In our first year, we’ve heard from a broad range of industry experts about how we might use this opportunity. Adam Ockelford (University of Roehampton); Cherry Forbes (OAE) and Jim Pinchen of Surrey Arts Up! Orchestra have all shared their experience and expertise at CPD sessions for teachers and musicians interested in being part of our accessible bands project.

We’ve kick started our work in the county’s large number of special schools to try and make sure we reach a broad spectrum of potential Orchestras Inc. participants. Our aspiration is to develop and sustain groups within schools, then to diversify & develop unique Orchestras Inc. bands in our music centres.

Duncan Chapman is our artistic director for the project. He has a person-led and reflexive way of making music and of encouraging participants to think about sound as music.

Duncan says...

"Traditionally ensembles for young players rely on them having the ability to play conventional instruments and to be able to follow the kinds of instructions that come from scores written by others. Whilst this approach is very successful if one is setting out to perform the music in clearly identified genres, it isn't appropriate if one is working with the diverse young musicians that typically go to SEN schools. My own experience working with the Paraorchestra and other ensembles of disabled and non-disabled musicians has led to evolving ways of creating, composing and devising music that are more empathetically in tune with the people involved in participating in the music."

The work we are doing at West Sussex is concerned with exploring and making music that starts with US; our responses to sound, the environment and each other, rather than existing repertoire. We start by exploring playing and thinking together about how we make choices about which sounds to use; how to structure them and what potential contexts there are for performance of the work produced. It’s not a new idea or way of working. When Debussy completed La Mer he was inspired to compose by the play of light on the sea, the wind and waves and his own emotional responses to these things. By composing and devising the music ourselves, we are able to make things that really have a connection to how we, in our diverse ways, experience the world.

Another driving force for this work is the idea of Aural Diversity. We all hear things differently and it is becoming increasingly widespread to consider a broad spectrum of hearing experiences for both musicians and audiences. This could mean finding contexts to perform where audiences can listen in different ways: via wireless headphones in a quiet space where they control the volume of the music; sitting or lying on vibro-tactile surfaces so the music can be felt as well as heard, or simply performed in a place where the audience can find their own space to sit and listen.

Aural Diversity: http://auraldiversity.org

Duncan Chapman: http://www.duncanchapman.org

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