An international orchestra will be born this summer when musicians meet for the first time in a rehearsal hall on the English coast. In an unprecedented move, many auditioned remotely in their home countries by posting on YouTube.
The Aldeburgh World Orchestra has been created for the London 2012 Festival, in an attempt to bring together talented young musicians from different continents to celebrate the ideals of Olympic excellence.
For two weeks the 120 musicians, a few of whom will have met before through Aldeburgh’s Britten-Pears Orchestra, are to immerse themselves in rehearsals of Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, the Adagio from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 10, and Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, as well as a new commission for the BBC by Charlotte Bray, an Aldeburgh Young Musician alumna.
They will be preparing to play at Snape Maltings under the baton of conductor Sir Mark Elder, before traveling to Germany and Holland. The orchestra’s final concert of the season will be at the Albert Hall in London on July 29.
The orchestra was planned three years ago, and the team in Suffolk, UK, contacted conservatoires, music festivals and youth orchestras around the world in their search for performers. More than 600 applied and those selected will include young professionals from the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Europe. The cello section alone will comprise players from 10 countries across four continents: Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt, Great Britain, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Russia, South Africa, and the US.
During rehearsals, principals and concertmasters from orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra will tutor and guide them.
The Aldeburgh World Orchestra is part of the national, 12-week culture festival that will run from June 21 until Sept. 9.
The project’s roots can be traced back to 1972, when the singer Peter Pears gave a vocal masterclass at Snape Maltings and launched a 40-year tradition of work with young musical stars at Aldeburgh. The new orchestra has been funded by a lottery grant from Arts Council England and is also supported by a gift from General Electric on behalf of Sir William Castell.
The achievement of bringing together such a diverse group of young people in pursuit of musical excellence is being applauded as one of the more positive orchestral elements of the Cultural Olympiad. Over the last month, musicians have complained about the amount of extra work the advent of the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Festival have created, for no extra payments.
Professional musicians approached by the London 2012 Organising Committee to play at sporting events during the Games have been told its policy is not to pay artists and that they should do it “for the exposure,” according to the Web site Corporate Watch.
A committee spokesman said there was no set policy on pay and the Musicians’ Union plans to investigate.