Grime & orchestras are a perfect match. Many of the most popular beats feature string accompaniment, brass shouts or orchestral stabs. We think the forceful and epic nature of the genre is blown up a level by the addition of an orchestra.
In April 2018 we did our first. Grime Orchestrated was BCO’s first project with rap music. The event was staged in the Prince of Wales club, in collaboration with producer Treble Cleff and some top MC talent, headlined by Yizzy and a regular Brixton-based collaborator, Terra. We performed orchestral versions of our guests’ songs, as well as premiered original beats, adapting samples from classical music. We rounded off with a freestyle set, playing many of the most classic beats from the last 15 years. The power of a 30-piece orchestra gave the music such drive and intensity, and the variety of instruments meant we could present totally different sound worlds from one tune to the next. It was obvious to us we had to keep this going.
Grime Orchestrated is now a regular project, kicked off with an appearance at the London Remixed Festival in Jan 2020. The outfit is set for club nights around South London and Summer festivals around the country after Covid restrictions are lifted. We’re particularly interested in the fusion of rap and classical music, incorporating rap into more complex forms and time signatures. Watch this space!
There are dozens of housing estates in Lambeth, housing over 80,000 people. For various reasons, many residents aren’t able to or interested in coming out to a concert in a church or hall at 7:30 in the evening somewhere across the borough, let alone across London. We had the idea to bring our orchestra directly to those communities where they live, using the estates’ community centres & shared outdoor areas.
The first tour was Christmas 2018, when we visited five estates. The project grew substantially the following Christmas, funded with our first bid to the Arts Council. In 2020, we took advantage of the brief lift in Covid-19 restrictions to deliver a series of outdoor concerts in August, attended by over 300 people, and then again in December, playing to over 500!
We feel this project allows us to deliver live orchestral experiences to new audiences, while fostering a sense of ownership of the orchestra within the local community. Audiences give great feedback to our varied programmes, often expressing surprise at how much they had enjoyed the classical repertoire. We’ve also begun to include more participation, inviting dancers, singers and rappers to join us.
BCO is now committed to bi-annual housing estate tours at Christmas and in Summer, offering communities opportunities to come together in celebration of live music and one another. As a local fixture, the tour will offer regular exposure to live performance in a variety of genres on a variety of instruments. We hope our performances will come to stand as an aspirational example of music making, particularly for young people, exemplifying what dedication and hard work can achieve.
We can regularly be found in small groups on Brixton Market, entertaining shoppers and passers by. We love it when people stop for a chat!
What’s even better than listening to an old song you love? What about hearing a bespoke cover arranged for orchestra and featuring an amazing local vocalist, performed live in the beautiful and exclusive Department Store? Our instrumentalists bring original character to well-loved classics -- colourfully re-imagined in this intimate setting. Joined by up-and-coming vocalists from across South London, these innovative events exude bold creativity and experimentation.