Family Space Concert, February 3rd 2024
by Tenor Saxophonist Joe Reynolds
The Coventry City of Culture Orchestra’s first concert of 2024 saw Mission Controller, Sebastian Farrall, take us into the realms of space travel and science fiction. Billed as a Fancy Dress Family Concert, both the audience and the orchestra were encouraged to dress for the occasion. Neither disappointed. There were more Lady Penelopes, Jedis and Princess Leias than any conductor could shake his lightsaber at.
Families always feel welcome at the Central Hall concerts, and the area set aside, where children could enjoy the concert without the restriction of formal seating, proved popular. People did mention this aspect of our performances and appreciate the way that youngsters can enjoy the music in a relaxed setting.
The show opened at 3.00 pm, with the ubiquitous Also Sprach Zarathustra; Elvis did not enter the room. Seb swapped his lightsaber for a glowstick, and blast-off followed a mass countdown into the theme from Thunderbirds and fireworks from the balcony. A huge, illuminated globe of planet earth hovered above the orchestra and laser lights sprinkled the ceiling adding to the extra-terrestrial atmosphere.
“Engaging” was one audience member's reaction to the show, they felt they were part of the experience and enjoyed the informality of the event. The audience were not only being treated to a musical voyage of the galaxies, but also to an excursion around the orchestra. Seb introduced them to each planetary section between pieces, explaining their sound and function within the orchestra.
Vocalist Richard White joined the orchestra for an arrangement of Fly me to the Moon before Starship USS Enterprise brought us safely to the kid’s fancy dress parade. The children, now in their element, showed off their costumes while members of the orchestra tried to make themselves invisible behind their music stand, hoping not to be picked to be a judge. Time may stand still for Timelords, but for the rest of us a selection of Dr Who themes ended the first half of the program.
The adults put just as much effort and enthusiasm into the fancy dress aspect of the show as the children. It was humbling to see the effort so many people had put in to this part of the event. The opening bars from E.T (The Extra Terrestrial) were instantly recognised, as the lights dropped for the second part of the show. Members of the audience were then invited to have a go at conducting an orchestra. The Blue Danube Waltz has rarely seen so many changes of tempo. Buzz Lightyear (there were several, one in the sax section) took us to infinity and beyond in an arrangement of You've Got a Friend in Me by saxophonist Colin Charman.
Planet Percussion put on a superb display of both tuned and untuned instruments that bought us to the ‘finale’, a version of David Bowie’s Life on Mars, arranged by clarinettist Morag Clark. They thought it was all over; did anyone believe that? The show finally came down to earth with a medley of Star Wars themes and more fireworks.
Listening to the comments after the show from both friends and strangers makes all this worthwhile. A superb Saturday afternoon’s entertainment.Our thanks extend to sponsors of the event: Small Firms Services Ltd., Candice Harris Photography & The Cottage Inn Fillongley, and also photographer Lucy Duncombe for taking pictures at the event.
Festival Chorus Registration is now OPEN. All of the details are on the page linked below, but the key piece of information is that the concert is on June 10th at Coventry Central Hall!
All details here: https://www.coventryorchestra.co.uk/chorusregistration23
Please spread this far and wide. We had a fantastic group of singers last year, and I’m very keen to repeat that success!
All the best,
|Did you know we can support our orchestra by raising money every time we shop online? Support that means we can become better resourced to spread music through our City, and it doesn’t cost us a penny!
We’re using easyfundraising, a free fundraising platform that allows us to earn money when we shop online. easyfundraising works with over 7,000 online retailers, everyone from Tesco, eBay, Sports Direct, M&S, Boots, Just Eat, Booking.com, and everything in between.
Once signed up all you need to do is start your shopping journey at the easyfundraising website, use the browser extension or app (information will be provided when you register) and the retailer you shop with will send us a free donation based on how much you spend
With the cost of living impacting everyone, this isn’t about asking you to spend more, but to make you aware that if you are making an on-line purchase anyway that by using easyfundraising you can give to us at the same time and at no additional cost to you.
So please support us if you can by registering yourself today at http://efraising.org/iart6Ud2P0 it only takes 2 minutes and all you need is your email address.
Please also share with your friends and family if they would also like to help – the more the better to raise much needed funds!
Dear Friends of The Coventry City of Culture Orchestra,
I'm pleased to report that the orchestra has re-formed since the summer break, and have enjoyed making music together in the Main Hall at Coventry Central Hall since the end of September. We are busy preparing for a number of performances in the coming few months:
Thank you for your continued support.
Coventry City of Culture Orchestra
|This afternoon it has been exciting to have a flick through some (provisional!) dates for the 2022/23 season, and life past City of Culture. We can’t wait to get playing again after the summer break!
We are open to new joiners too . If you’d like to register your interest, please head to www.coventryorchestra.co.uk/getinvolved
We discussed the options of repeating some of the events we performed during the residency as well as adding a few new events to our 2022/23 season, including a family concert in January aimed at encouraging young ears to listen to some exciting music...which may in turn set them on a path of learning an instrument, and, perhaps, in many years time, even joining us on the stage!
While we've got you, please pardon the current state of the website. We're currently in the process of bringing all of the information up-to-date.
A message from our friends:
The National Scout and Guide Concert Orchestra along with our guests the Birmingham Scout and Guide Gang Show Choir will be performing at Coventry Methodist Central Hall on Saturday 9 April at 7pm.
The Coventry and Nuneaton Methodist Church Circuit have invited us as part of the Coventry year of celebration as the City of Culture. Tickets are now on sale at £8 for adults and are free for U16. They can be bought at tickets.nsgso.com or alternatively by phoning 07517 693474.
In addition to the above 2 ensembles the smaller groups of the Strings Ensemble, Wind Ensemble and Big Band will also be playing at this concert.
We do hope that you can join us.
NSGSO and NSGCB Manager
National Scout & Guide Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band
|For more information, see:
|We are very excited to be launching our composition competition.
With a grand prize of £1500 for the Open category and £500 for the Youth category, we are hoping to encourage lots of composers to take part!
Submissions must be made via email to Sebastian Farrall at email@example.com
You will be given a confirmation of delivery within a few days. If you get no confirmation, please resubmit your composition.
Submissions must be made by midnight on the 1st January 2022, and you must include whether you are entering the Youth (up to 25) or Open categories. If you are entering the youth category, you must include your date of birth.
You submission must include:
You may include a short biography about yourself, and an introduction to your piece.
Your work should be between 3-6 minutes long.
When the warm breeze whispers words across the waters,
like the gentle droplets, we’re all sons and daughters
of the same streams.
Can you hear me?
When the sun is shining and the planes draw white lines,
like the saplings rising, it’s the same soil
we all thrive on,
Can you hear me?
When the moon is hidden and the TV flickers,
it’s a cold room, but someone cares still
hope will hold your hand,
Can you hear me?
In the breeze that whispers,
in the sun that shimmers,
in the moon that’s hidden,
yes, I hear you.
God we hear you.
Judging will commence in the new year, by Artistic Director Sebastian Farrall and professional composer and arranger Dean Jones. The top tier of submissions will then be performed by the Orchestra during rehearsals in January (13 & 20) who will then vote on their favourite. If your piece is being performed, you will be invited to come along and listen.
|Well well well! Preparations are in full swing to get the Orchestra up and off the ground next week (Thursday 23rd).
We have a huge amount of musicians signed up, raring to go, and lots of exciting music ready and waiting to come to life.
Just a reminder that our rehearsals are for those registered musicians only. We currently have a full roster, so aren't accepting any 'drop-in' musicians. If you'd like to join the waiting list, please head to the 'Get Involved' page.
We have a truly fantastic number of musicians signed up to be a part of The Coventry City of Culture Orchestra.
Registrations for the orchestra will close next week (19th July!) so that I can prepare the music for September...so get moving! Please see a list below of the instruments and availability:
The orchestra needs:
To celebrate Coventry’s City of Culture, local musician, Seb Farrall, is calling on all instrumentalists to get involved in an exciting musical project.
As part of Coventry Central Hall’s City of Culture “Artists in Residence Programme” (AiR), Seb is starting a brand new orchestra. The AiR programme is funded by Coventry and Nuneaton Methodist circuit and supported by Methodist Church at Coventry Central Hall. Membership of the orchestra is open to all and rehearsals begin in September, working towards a large-scale celebration concert in April 2022 at Central Hall.
Seb encourages everyone to get their instrument out whether well-versed or slightly rusty:
“Making music in a large ensemble has been a very important part of my life, for as long as I can remember. Something magical happens when people get together to make music, and I’m very excited to be leading a project to celebrate our city of culture in this way.”
While the orchestra won’t be for complete beginners, those who have perhaps let their instrument collect dust for many years are encouraged to sign up and come along, as well as those who are more up-to-date with their skills. We also welcome players of instruments which don’t normally feature in an orchestra.
“I know so many people who played an instrument when they were younger and have just stopped playing for a variety of reasons. My hope is that these people will be encouraged to once again get their instruments out and enjoy this great opportunity to celebrate the City of Culture through music.”
The repertoire of the concert will be celebrating Coventry, and will be inspired by reaching out to the people of Coventry themselves. The concert repertoire will be wide-reaching, encompassing both the traditional Orchestral works linked to Coventry, but also some songs from the Pop/Rock genre:
“I’m also very keen to include both performers and music of diversity that an orchestra wouldn’t normally include. Coventry is a city which represents many cultures and this concert will reflect that.”
The celebration concert will feature a ‘Festival Chorus’, amalgamating local choirs and singers, as well as featuring already existing ensembles performing in their own right who perhaps normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to perform on the big stage.
“In my time of making music as a conductor, I have come to realise that the most important thing has always been people. The music gets better when the performers are socially and emotionally in sync and I know that this orchestra will be a fun, enjoyable, and special experience for anyone who joins.”
“I can’t think of anything better to bring people together in order to celebrate our shared culture, especially after a year that has left no room for this sort of music making.”
To encourage up-and-coming composers, we are also hosting a composition competition, with the winning work being premiered at the concert. There are two categories: Open and Youth, with prizes of £1500 and £500.
“Having entered, and won a runner up prize myself in a similar competition as an A level student, I know how encouraging this can be and is what ultimately started my journey in studying music composition at Coventry University.”
“If you have some great ideas of songs or pieces of music which represent Coventry (however tangential!), or would like to be involved with the orchestra itself, head to coventryorchestra.co.uk to find out more. Remember, whether your instrument would feature in an orchestra normally or not, we need you, and you are welcome here!”
The project will be led by local conductor Seb Farrall, who came to Coventry in 2011 to study Music Composition at Coventry University, and since graduation in 2014 with a First Class Degree has continued to live and work in the area. Seb was tutored in conducting by Christopher Evans as student conductor of the University Orchestral Ensemble, and has continued to take those skills daily into his professional life. Seb currently directs six choirs who meet regularly, as well as being involved in other projects.
Although Seb is known predominantly as a choral director, it is a well-known fact that choirs and orchestras go together well, and Seb has taken the baton numerous times harnessing upwards of 100 musicians with both choir and orchestra. Seb has also had the privilege of travelling the world as a percussionist, and playing in some famous concert halls such as The London O2 Arena and the Albert Hall. For more information about Seb, head to this page.
To get involved with any aspect of this project, head to the Get involved page where you can take part!
|We are very excited to announce that the celebration concert in April 2022 will also feature a ‘Festival Chorus’, amalgamating local choirs and singers. Choir and orchestra together are a well-established pairing, and this concert will celebrate that. With an ecclectic mix of repertoire, this one will sure be a highlight and one not to miss.
More information will be released soon, but make sure that you signup via this webpage to register your interest.
There will be two choir-only rehearsals at Central Hall (currently penciled in at 7:30-10pm on Fri 7th January 2022, and Fri 4th February 2022), with a full ensemble rehearsal 1pm-6pm on Sat 12th March 2022.
Resources will also be avliable to choirs and individual singers to learn parts from home. This includes guide tracks for learning music.
To continue to support the musical development, we are also hosting a composition composition, with the winning works being premiered at the concert. There are two categories: Open and Youth, with prizes of £1,500 (Open) and £500 (Youth).
Having myself entered (and won a runner up prize!) a similar competition as an A level student, I know how encouraging this can be and is what ultimately started my journey to studying music composition at Coventry University.
The competition will be judged by the Orchestra Artist Director Seb Farrall and professional Composer and Arranger Dean Jones:
From graduating in 1998 at Kingston University with a BA Hons in Music, Dean Haydn Jones has been writing music for publishers ever since.
With now over 150 publications at present to his name and compositions on numerous CDs and DVDs, Dean has enjoyed a successful decade as a frequent contributor of both instrumental and vocal music for artists and publishing houses across the globe.
His piece for brass band entitled Glorifico Aeternum (2003) was performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London in July 2004 and since then, the piece has been performed in major concert halls around the world. Supremacy (2006) was the title track of the International Staff Band's CD recording in 2007 and pieces such as El es el Senor and Faithful God have also proved popular in the brass band repertoire. Two recent major works, Validus Deus and Vista were recently recorded by the North York Temple Salvation Army band and featured during their UK tour in May 2013.