Over the years, taking us far and wide, this project and has brought us into contact with many wonderful artists with a refugee background, from Afghan santur player Ebrahim Mohammadi to the folks behind Germany’s RapfugeeCamp and organisations such as the Journeys Festival (with our Sounds of Sanctuary project).
Produced by cultural arts organisation Music Worldwide, January 2024 saw us begin a residency with the prestigious Norwich School, situated in the city centre right next to Norwich Cathedral. Working with their music students on a performance of Orchestra of Samples, we worked with a choir of 15 students, 6 soloists and two percussionists – all extremely talented with some already quite proficient as musicians and about to enroll in dedicated music colleges.
October 2023 and we were invited to be part of the Shekou Theatre Festival in southern China, a trip organised by Lesley Zhang from Creative China. Shekou is a district in Shenzhen, China’s third largest city with a population of around 18 million; the city is often referred to as ‘China’s Silicon Valley’ because of its status as a global technology centre.
November 2022 and we were back in Portugal, this time performing Orchestra of Samples at well-being and land-regeneration event Primal Gathering in Odiáxere, near Lagos in southern Portugal.
Since last month, September 2022, world music website Rhythm Passport have begun running Arsenal of Sounds – a new monthly night at southeast London venue Woolwich Works in Woolwich Arsenal.
Since launching in 2014, Sheffield based Talking Gigs have featured an incredible line-up of performers including Bassekou Kouyate, Robyn Hitchcock, Tinariwen, Sam Lee, Emmanuel Jal and many others. Supported by Songlines magazine, and half interview / talk show and half concert and it’s an innovative format that gives audiences a real close-up insight into an artist’s work, life and culture. More than just an interview, artists perform particular songs in the first half, discussing them with the interviewer, before performing a full concert in the second half.
May 2022 wrapped up a year of events for Plugged, the music initiative set-up by Addictive TV’s Francoise Lamy and east London producer Rob Parton, and for the last event a night of global beats and ethno-grooves was staged at east London venue the Walthamstow Trades Hall.
Having recorded a number of times in India for Orchestra of Samples and with the project being a UK-French venture, in early April 2022 we were invited to performed the show in India at the French Rendez-Vous Festival in the coastal city of Puducherry, organised by the French Institute of India and international cultural organisation Les Francophonies.
This month we were invited for a residency at More Music, the forward-thinking community space and education charity in the UK’s northwest Lancashire coastal town of Morecame. As well as being a performance venue, they have a recording studio, education activities and youth centre with outreach programmes working with local schools via Lancashire Music Hub.
As pandemic restrictions ease in the UK and more live events begin to happen again, it felt fantastic to be back on the road for our first gig of 2022, having already had a gig cancelled in early January in France! We headed to Ipswich, in the east of the UK, to perform at The New Wolsey Theatre, who – as part of their opening season – hosted a few nights of music performances, including a jazz night from the Ronnie Scott’s All Stars and from ourselves with Orchestra of Samples.
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 for the launch of their new magazine Humanities Arts and Society, the event was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic.
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.
Slotting in between India and a project next month in Indonesia, we headed to France at the end of January 2020. Sadly just a few days before the official Brexit deadline of January 31st, when the UK bids farewell to the EU, as we’d been asked by prestigious French arts venue The Pompidou Centre to perform Orchestra of Samples on January 24th as the last British artists to perform there before the official departure; particularly as our project is a musical journey without borders, about connecting cultures.
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.
Commission by the organisers of the London Mela – the largest festival in Europe celebrating Asian culture, music and food, we were asked to create a special short performance from part of Orchestra of Samples with east London’s Dhol Academy. Calling our joint project ‘Dhol Addiction’, we all performed the closing event of the 2019 edition of the festival,
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 Ribab (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!
Last week, during our current tour, we played a wonderful date in the small UK town of Borden at their Phoenix Arts Centre, where rapper Matt Malone and long-time collaborator and percussionist Paul Gunter joined us for the performance. After rehearsals we took the opportunity to record a session with Paul, who’s played so many times with us but still hadn’t been recorded for sampling!
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…