As pandemic lockdowns around the world began to ease and outdoor events began to slowly happen, one area of London decided to have a whole weekend of online only events, celebrating the London Borough of Newham and its incredible cultural diversity for audiences to watch worldwide. From 14 – 16 August 2020, Newham Unlocked streamed a live programme of arts and music, including circus, cabaret and theatre performances.
June 2020 and we were to perform Orchestra of Samples at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris this month for the launch of their new online magazine Humanities Arts and Society, the event was unfortunately postponed because of the Coronavirus situation. If you’re unfamiliar, UNESCO are an agency for the United Nations, and their name is an acronym for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, they encourage international peace and collaborations among nations.
For over a year, working with East London community music project Stow-lab, we’ve been co-organising a series of music events and workshops called Plugged, with the ethos of connecting people through music. We were also successful in receiving funding from Arts Council England to organise a whole programme of events.
Selected to join hundreds of artists from across mainly Africa and the Middle East and some from Europe and Latin America, we headed to Morocco’s capital Rabat to perform at music industry showcase event Visa For Music – the largest of its kind on the African continent.
July 2019 and we were asked to once again play at the amazing Timitar Festival in Agadir, Morocco, so took the opportunity to record that most Moroccan of instruments – the Rebab (which we didn’t record last time we were here in 2014).
November 2018 and our UK tour is finished! The almost year-long set of dates, kindly supported by Arts Council England, took us all over the country and after the summer, the autumn tour dates took in the likes of Cambridge, Liverpool and Belfast amongst others, with interviews on Sue Marchant’s BBC Cambridgeshire show (main photo at the top) and you can listen to her interview above, but the highlight of interviews was being grilled on BBC News (below) on BBC Music Day in late September where we were given the HARDtalk treatment by presenter Stephen Sackur, who’s more used to interviewing heads of state and difficult politicians!
September saw us perform at the Soundtrack Festival in the Czech Republic in the spa town of Poděbrady, about 50km east of Prague. Headlining the festival was French composer and soundtrack megastar Eric Serra, who’s composed the scores for films incuding The Fifth Element, Nikita and James Bond movie Golden Eye – it was an absolute pleasure to meet him and see him perform live.
It’s the summer of the long heatwave! The last 2018 UK tour gigs before the summer break saw us perform Orchestra of Samples in the UK towns of Milton Keynes at the IF: Milton Keynes International Festival with Dame Evelyn Glennie, in Horsham where 2018 BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist Toril Azzalini-Machecler joined us and in Harwich at the Harwich Festival of the Arts, performing in one of the oldest cinemas in the world, the beautiful Electric Palace built in 1911 (we also happen to be the last artists to perform there, as it’s now undergoing a huge restoration).
With a great start to our 2018 UK tour, the first date in London at Splice Festival was chosen as Pick of the Week by the Metro Newspaper (photo above). Then to top it off, a journalist from Sweden’s Release Magazine was there reviewing the whole festival and gave us this glowing quote…!
We’ve just performed Orchestra of Samples in Paris at the world famous Musée du Quai Branly, the prestigious museum of world cultures by the Eiffel Tower! The night was part of their weekend L’Afrique des Routes (Africa on the Road), closing the museum’s year long Africa exhibition.
Our final date at Musicport festival 2017 ends our UK tour! We took Orchestra of Samples up and down the United Kingdom, from Wiltshire to Whitby, via London, Sheffield, Hull, Norwich and many other towns and cities.
We were joined on our performances by both guest and regular musicians, including fretless guitar virtuoso Alejandro de Valera…
WOMAD 2017 was simply fantastic! We performed on the Bowers & Wilkins stage to a wonderful capacity crowd and even did a cheeky encore cutting up and remixing Seu Jorge who was playing the main stage.
While there we were interviewed on Radio WOMAD 87.7FM, interview below alongside tracks from the album. Big thanks to the WOMAD press team. Tracks from Orchestra of Samples played: Hangman, Beachcoma and Rapscallion.
Summer 2017 and we’re halfway through the Orchestra of Samples tour! So time to round up some of the interviews and album reviews over recent weeks. Having kicked-off the tour in Hull as part of Hull – City of Culture 2017, here’s us on local BBC radio making fools of ourselves…
Early January 2017 and we were performing Orchestra of Samples in Colombia, in the beautiful South American tropical coastal city of Cartagena for a special event organised by the Lux Festival. The event was held…
It’s not often you get asked to perform in a cathedral!
This year, events at Coventry’s Festival of Imagineers took place in the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral, heavily bombed during Word War 2. We were scheduled to perform Orchestra of Samples outdoors in the ruins but due to rain the festival had to move many of the days events inside the new cathedral right next door. Alejandro de Valera, our long time French guitarist, came over from Paris to join us on this one, playing his self-built fretless guitar.
May 2016 and we were in China for some dates, including performing at the opening of the GMIC16, the Global Mobile Internet Conference, in (quite incredibly) the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing (watch the video below) and at Club Tango, also in the capital.
Awesome awesome night! Always great to play on home turf, not just the UK but the good old East End of London! Guesting with us were members of afrobeat/world/jazz/funk band Yaaba Funk – both percussionists Clive Wales and Paul Brett and the superb trumpet player Byron Wallen, often cited as one of the best trumpeters in the World.
Well, what a fantastc review from Cultured Vultures! Click here to go to the article… but a few choice extracts below…
“I’ve been to a lot of live events and seen and heard some fairly unique things… Nothing could prepare me for Orchestra of Samples though.”
Hola España! It’s the third time we’ve been asked back to perform at the Abycine Film Festival in Albacete in Spain, and it’s always such a fantastic event! This time we performed Orchestra of Samples at the gala opening night of the festival, at the spectactular Teatro Circo de Albacete – one of only six existing 19th Century theatres of its kind left in the world. It’s the second time we’ve performed the project in Spain and French guitarist Alejandro de Valera once again joined us on stage. Was also great to see the peice in the local paper the following morning over breakfast…!
Ola folks! We’ve just taken Orchestra of Samples to Brazil, playing in Belo Horizonte as the first international artists to perform at the wonderful arts venue Cento Quarto, as part of a Brazilian mini-tour where we also played at La Paz club…
Whilst in Istanbul this month performing our other film remix and mashup set at Ghetto Club we also gave talks about our work at both Istanbul’s School of Audio Engineering and at Bahçeşehir University. The university also arranged for us to film on their roof terrace with the amazing tanbur player Korkutalp Bilgin. The tanbur is the very long necked stringed instrument usually found in Turkey, the Middle East and Southern & Central Asia.
December 2011 and with the Arab Spring still in motion across the Middle-East and North Africa, we headed to Egypt to perform at the Disco Cairo 2011 event at Scharazad in the West El Balad area of the capital. Only just this year, the country has been through the Egyptian revolution but is still in it’s transitionary period and while we were there, there were still mass demonstrations in the streets and particularly in the famous Tahrir Square.
While in Mexico to perform at the huge Sonorama Festival in the incredible Azteca Stadium, we were introduced to Humberto Alvarez, formally from the well known Mexican band Sangre Asteka. These days Humberto is an expert in pre-Hispanic music, which we recorded him playing – from Aztec whistles and drums to playing a virtually Neolithic ‘stone xylophone’, which he feels would have been one of the first instruments humans likely invented