As you stand and wait for a train at Peckham Rye station, the last thing you might expect to hear wafting across the platforms is the sound of live classical music... But that's exactly what happens every time that The Multi-Story Orchestra (conducted by Chris Stark) puts on a project. Why? Because their main performance venue is the top floor of a brightly decorated multi-story car park in Peckham, of course..!
Earlier this month I performed with the Multi-Story Orchestra for the first time. The repertoire for our two concerts was Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring - poignant because this was also in the programme of the orchestra's first ever performance. I was particularly looking forward to this week of rehearsals because I'd actually already worked intensively on The Rite of Spring earlier in the year with the Britten-Pears Orchestra. We'd performed it at the Royal Festival Hall under conductor Marin Alsop, and I'd spent that project learning the 2nd trumpet part inside-out. This time, however, I would be playing Principal.
Alongside our performance of the music, we prepared 'Living Programme Notes' for the audience. These were short presentations about the music which were to be shown to the audience during the hour before each performance. Both the orchestra and the score were split into eight sections and each group was given a passage of music to present in a fun and interactive way. My group was given 'The Glorification of the Chosen One' (the second section of Part 2) and it was fantastic to see the audience throwing themselves into learning the dance moves we'd come up with to show the difficult rhythms in this passage. It also gave us a rare chance to interact with the hundreds of audience members before the concert, and it was then palpable just how intensely they were watching and listening to our performance.
The Peckham car park felt like the perfect (albeit rather cold!) setting to perform a piece like The Rite of Spring, with the car park's primitive feel, booming acoustic and dramatic views of the London skyline. This was one of the final performances of The Multi-Story Orchestra's 2017 season, but they'll be back in 2018 with many more exciting programmes in store!
Visit https://www.multi-story.org.uk/ to find out more.