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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Underground Orchestra Preview

You may remember I blogged about a Tube orchestra challenge a few months ago.  I'm pleased to say that things seems to be coming along rather nicely for it.  Tube Challenger Adham Fisher went along to a preview concert last week and has kindly written a guest post of the event.

String Quartet at the Jubilee Line Opening

"This year, a goal is set to recruit people for an orchestra to play at a prestigious London venue on the 12th of December 2012. The orchestra will comprise of musicians met on the London Underground only; if they are seen with an instrument, they must be approached. Original music will be performed, scored by someone who neither reads nor writes music. This is the 121212 Challenge. And on paper, it shouldn't work.

Shaun Buswell is the man behind this, and as the lead singer in the more-than-15-strong "folkchestral" band bearing his last name, is used to managing big groups. Things are coming together now and material is being previewed. After a London Eye concert, Buswell took to the Union Chapel last Friday (September 14th) with four members of the still-forming Underground Orchestra.

Gaz Brookfield opened proceedings, a most energetic man-and-guitar combination. So overawed was he at playing in the Chapel that he turned deftly away from the microphone for rude words and played his ode to the West Country unamplified. He made way for Cook And The Case who constrast with darker, brooding melodies.

Buswell and the orchestra filed on stage; the total number could be around 21. "This song's called Tuning Up," says Shaun, as strings, brass and electric pitch the customary A. Three songs later, most of the ensemble departed to leave Shaun to perform a stripped-down Sleep with his producer who had flown in from Gothenburg, and returned with more superb classical arrangements to complement Buswell's songwriting.

Tuning Up is reprised by Shaun throughout, as the orchestra wait for him to align to certain songs. He makes up for this with his banter, however, announcing it was his birthday (he'll be in the bar afterwards until further notice) and having Happy Birthday sung to him from the reasonably full house. He introduced all of the musicians, spoke about his challenge and even mentioned some chap named Adham Fisher and the Guinness World Record for visiting all Tube stations, which he might try at some point. His Guinness application for "largest orchestra consisting of people met on rapid transit" has not been confirmed yet...

With the 10:30pm curfew looming, the orchestra launched into Lebanon - which in full flow has a tiny hint of Live And Let Die about it - and end with The Road, an uplifting piece written specifically for the 121212 Challenge. A standing ovation ensued; the audience loved what they have heard.
The venue has not yet been announced but the full Underground Orchestra will be in concert on 12/12/12. Reserve that date, for based on tonight, it works. "

Many thanks Adham for the review and look out for more updates as the orchestra forms.

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