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.
Occasionally feeling like we were in our own production of the film School of Rock, it was an intensive and wonderful experience over a couple of weeks, working both with improvisations for some and writing specific pieces for others – particularly the choir. The soloists were a French horn player, a saxophonist, a harpist, a violinist, a guitarist and a veena player – the Indian instrument that predates the sitar and looks a little similar (as it happens, for Orchestra of Samples, we previously recorded a veena in India in 2020).
Splitting the students into smaller groups we had a number of days practicing with them, ahead of full rehearsals and run-throughs. Alejandro headed up the choir, writing 2 specific pieces for them (and conducting them on the night of the performance too), while the soloists and percussionists were split between Alejandro and Graham.
We gave some local radio interviews, including for BBC Radio Norfolk (which you can hear below) and the final performance took place in early February at the Norwich Playhouse Theatre, and what a night!! We were also joined on stage by regular collaborator František Holčík on clarinet and EWI (electronic wind instrument) and the residency organiser himself Gary Newland, who also happens to be a percussionist! The students were incredible and all gave brilliant performances – it was an exciting night for them, especially as so many of their parents were there.
Here’s Graham being interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk, on their afternoon Drive Time show (just click on it)…
With massive thanks to the whole music department at Norwich School – particularly Caroline Speca – the school’s Head of Making Musicians – and to Gary Newland, event producer and artistic director of Music Worldwide, for making the whole residency project happen in the first place.