What's it like to be part of the National Orchestra for All?

What's it like to be part of the National Orchestra for All?

"NOFA has driven me in a direction I thought I’d never explore, inspiring me to pursuit orchestral performance and a degree in Music. If the experience doesn’t go as far as impacting their career choices, it will still certainly build their social skills and prove to be an enjoyable journey."

We speak to five members of our National Orchestra for All to find out what it's like to be part of this unique ensemble.

Orchestras for All announces developments in its leadership team

Orchestras for All announces developments in its leadership team

Marianna Hay, the Founder and Chief Executive of OFA has been selected as a Fellow on the prestigious Clore Leadership Programme. Since Marianna founded OFA in 2011 the charity has worked with over 1000 young people with complex needs, supported over 75 music teachers and community music leaders and created over 25 arrangements of specially-created music for mixed ability ensembles. In 2016, Marianna won the Musician’s Union Inspiration Award for her work with Orchestras for All at the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence.

A Waltz in the Park: Making the notes playable for a mixed ability ensemble

The Modulo Programme 2017-18 has launched, with Modulo Meets coming to Birmingham, London, Manchester and Sheffield in March 2018! While schools looking to kick-start ensemble music-making are signing up to the programme, OFA’s arranger-in-residence, Emma Oliver-Trend, has been busy arranging repertoire on the theme of music for dance, ready for our Modulos to begin rehearsing in January.

We asked Emma to tell us a bit more about the process she works through when arranging for mixed ability ensembles.

“The trick with making these arrangements easily playable is ensuring that the notes and keys are tailored, as far as possible, for the ease of individual instruments”.

“For example, I’m just starting our arrangement of the haunting and beautiful Waltz no. 2 from the Shostakovich Jazz Suite. It starts with a brilliant saxophone melody; so, in homage to all our E flat players, I thought I'd take care to consider which minor key would be best for the saxes, but also nice and friendly to all the other instruments!”

Shostakovich himself clearly had the same idea as Emma, as he wrote the movement in C minor, which is A minor for the alto saxophones - so no accidentals at all! 

However, because one musician’s accidental-free waltz in the park is another’s three-flat-plus-a-raised-seventh Argentine tango, Emma notes that the second key to a successful mixed-ability ensemble arrangement is compromise!

“For my arrangement of the waltz, I ended up going for G minor, so that no-one in the Modulo has more than two flats to think about”.

If you fancy having a go at arranging your own piece, Emma has produced a handy colour chart to help with all those modulation decisions!

Interested in getting involved with the Modulo Programme? Find out more here, and sign up here!