Entertainment & Arts

BBC launches search for amateur orchestra

String players in an orchestra Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption There are hundreds of amateur orchestras around the UK

The BBC has launched a search to find the UK's most inspirational amateur orchestras, as part of a new season that aims to inspire creativity.

Orchestras from across the UK are being urged to sign up and compete for the chance to perform at a major public event later this year.

Five finalists will compete in a grand final, to be broadcast on BBC Two.

The search is part of BBC Music's Get Playing initiative, which encourages people to try their hand at music.

Thousands of amateur musicians meet across the UK every week - with one government estimate suggesting there were 11,220 groups playing regularly.

In London alone, there is an orchestra composed of ­lawyers, one of ­medics, one which plays exclusively in basements and the ­London Gay Symphony ­Orchestra (which is open to everyone).

But they rarely get mainstream recognition, with a few notable exceptions such as the CBSO Chorus, which regularly performs with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The BBC competition is open to orchestras with between 40 and 75 members. They must have been playing for at least a year and all entrants must be aged 16 or over, meaning most school orchestras will be ineligible.

A complementary series, The UK's Best Part-time Band, was announced last October, and will be broadcast on both BBC Two and Four.

Cassian Harrison, editor of BBC Four said: "We want to go beyond the stars to celebrate the passion of amateur music makers who captivate, entertain and transport audiences up and down the country every week, and hoping to inspire a new generation to pick up a musical instrument."

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