That’s right – the iOrchestra is back on Lemon Quay, housed in an amazing white marquee. It is the home of a deconstructed digital orchestra, in which 103 musicians from the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen take you through the amazing music of Gustav Holst’s The Planets from every perspective imaginable. The iOrchestra drew in more than 50’000 people in 2014 and this year it drew in more than 75’000!
As you enter the tent you are greeted by the ‘Universe of Sound, The Planets by Gustav Holst’ – as well as a warm welcome from the team of volunteers who steer you around the black velvet maze. The movements featured in the Universe of Sound are Mars (The Bringer of War), Venus (The Bringer of Peace), Mercury (The Winged Messenger), Jupiter (The Bringer of Jollity), Saturn (The Bringer of Old Age), Uranus (The Magician) and Neptune (The Mystic). Almost every instrument imaginable has been used in this spectacular piece of music.
I recognised the well-known world cup rugby anthem from the section called Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity. What struck me was the intimacy of the cameras watching every member of the orchestra in minute detail and the concentration on their faces, watching and counting the music – dare they loose their place during the piece. The Philharmonia has some of the best musicians in the world and its incredible to see them play their instruments from harp to double bass bassoon!
At the end of June I discovered that there was a spectacular show in the night sky when the actual planets Jupiter and Venus crossed paths, which is a rare occurrence – happening only every few years. These are two of the brightest planets in the sky and have been slowly coming together every week since last winter. Therefore I find it quite fitting that the iOrchestra have brought ‘The Planets’ to Truro during the last week of June and first week of July.
The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the busiest in the UK, performing more than 160 concerts a year throughout the world. About 60 concerts are played in London, 50 internationally and 70 around the rest of the country. It is a self-governing orchestra and therefore the musicians ‘own’ the orchestra and have a say in running it.
On Monday the 29th of June I had the opportunity to speak with Edward Mackay who is the Project Manager for the iOrchestra.
I asked Edward, what happens after the iOrchestra leaves the South West and what are their ultimate objectives.
He went onto explain about the enormous value of music and how their objective is to connect and fully engage with people and to introduce them to music. Organisations like the Cornwall Music Education Hub, which plays a vital role in introducing youngsters to music in Cornwall. To link up musicians and get the Cornish brass band culture to explore the orchestral world further. A genuine catalyst for cultural change in the enjoyment, appreciation and aspiration to play classical music.
Edward hopes that the iOrchestra, the touring music lab and the concerts will be able to touch all musicians and encourage them to keep going with their training and further their development. The Philharmonia’s wish is to encourage children into the world of classical music and to dream big, to keep meeting, working and playing together. To grow talent in the South West and to reap the reward that music brings.
As I walked through the tent, I pondered what life is like for these incredibly talented world class musicians who are at the top of their game. The travelling involved, the fulfilment in their lives and what their family lives are like. Edward explained that they have a pool of musicians to call upon and have 80 core members, with others pulled in to play at certain performances and pieces that need a greater ensemble.
Art and cultural experiences enrich people’s lives, strengthen communities and contribute to the development and well-being of young people. In addition, artistic and cultural industries contribute to economic growth both directly and indirectly, so events such as the iOrchestra make Cornwall and Truro more attractive as a tourist destination.
If you would like to listen to the whole of The Planets by Gustav Holst performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, go to the Spotify play list here: www.spoti.fi/1DPcaiW