Stirling Orchestra tuning up for BBC competition challenge

By Graeme Ogston
BBC Scotland Tayside and Central reporter

image captionStirling Orchestra was formed in 1983

A Stirling amateur orchestra is the only Scottish finalist in a classical music battle of the bands featured in a new BBC television competition.

Stirling Orchestra, which formed in 1983, is one of the five competitors in All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge.

The four-part BBC4 series aims to find the UK's top amateur orchestra.

Stirling made it to the final five after hundreds of orchestras initially submitted video entries.

The orchestra, which has about 70 members, includes a horse riding coach, a social worker and a microbiologist.

It will face the London Gay Symphony Orchestra, North Devon Sinfonia, the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra and Birmingham-based People's Orchestra in the competition.

The winning orchestra will perform on stage at the BBC Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park.

Stirling Orchestra draws amateur musicians from across central Scotland and rehearses every week at the city's Wallace High School.

It performs two or three concerts a year in Stirling's Albert Halls.

image captionStephen Broad has conducted Stirling Orchestra for the past 12 years

Stephen Broad, the orchestra's conductor for the past 12 years, said: "I think that when an orchestra plays well together the whole experience of it becomes much more successful, both for the orchestra and the audience.

"We have a huge range of abilities in the orchestra but you can still achieve a really successful concert if you look for everyone to play together well."

There were only eight weeks between the orchestra's first rehearsal and the first knock-out round of the competition.

image captionGemma McAusland said orchestra practice instils discipline in the players

Cellist Gemma McAusland said: "I think you get the discipline of having to practice.

"When you're just sat at home and you've got nothing to aim for, nothing to practice for, you can very quickly become out of practice yourself.

"Coming to orchestra once a week forces you into that routine of having to get the instrument out of the case on a regular basis.

"That in turn improves your playing over a longer period of time and it's enjoyable as well."

image captionKatie Derham, Chi-chi Nwanoku and Paul Daniel feature in the new programme

The show will be presented by BBC Proms presenter Katie Derham.

The orchestras will be mentored by double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, and conductor Paul Daniel will judge the competitors.

The first episode of All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge begins on BBC4 at 21:00 on Tuesday.

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