Welsh Sinfonia bring classical music to the people

Friday 9 December 2011, 15:06

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Cardiff-based chamber orchestra The Welsh Sinfonia will be running a series of public events starting in December, aimed at making classical music seem less stuffy.

The idea of the Work And Play project is to bring people and music into "unexpected contact" and override preconceptions about classical music being in the realms of the inaccessible, with steep ticket prices, a perceived snobbery about the scene in general and a limited amount of live performances available locally.

The project will see the orchestra take its music into the Calsonic Kansei factory in Llanelli and the St Elli Shopping Centre on Wednesday 14 December.

The free half-hour lunchtime concert will be performed in the middle of the factory for the workers to enjoy, with a programme including carols and some Beatles music as well as a range of classics.

Later in the afternoon, the Sinfonia will stage an informal pop-up concert at the shopping centre to regale shoppers as they go about their business.

The Welsh Sinfonia in rehearsal

The Welsh Sinfonia in rehearsal

At both events, the public will be handed vouchers offering 50% off the price of a ticket for the orchestra's evening concert that day, at Ammanford Miners Theatre at 7.30pm.

The orchestra is normally 35-strong but for the project they will be bringing 12 string players - violins, violas, cellos and a double bass - and a harpsichord for the evening.

At that show, the players will perform in a more formal setting, yet without a conductor. The evening will be directed by the leader of the orchestra, Robin Stowell, and compèred in Welsh and English by Roger Price.

The programme will include music performed earlier in the day, with well-known pieces by Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart, Karl Jenkins, Morfudd Owen and Bartók thrown in.

The Welsh Sinfonia in rehearsal

The Welsh Sinfonia in rehearsal

A similar event is also planned for 29 February 2012 around Caerphilly, with performances at GE Aviation in Nantgarw, Castle Court Shopping Centre in Caerphilly, and Blackwood Miners Institute.

The orchestra is hoping the idea will catch on and it can stage more events of this type in the future. Spokeswoman Anne Curtis said: "We're pretty sure that no-one else has done anything like this in Wales.

"The rationale behind the idea is that many people feel that, between the cost of tickets, the effort needed to get to events, unfamiliarity with classical orchestral music, the relative unavailability of live orchestral performances locally, and often the general 'stuffiness' of the whole classical music scene - classical music is 'not for us'.

"Work and Play aims to prove them wrong. We're hoping that, by the time we've finished, we shall have forged new relationships with a whole new audience, and introduced a lot of people to a new source of enjoyment - and that we can come back in the future and build on what we've started."

The project has funding from the Arts Council of Wales but is still hoping to access some funding from elsewhere in order to keep the costs to audiences as low as possible.

All the players are paid full professional rates, but two of the day's events are free, and the other is heavily discounted.

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