Musical Chairs 2018: Meet Arabella

In preparation for our 2018 Musical Chairs fundraising event, where brave members of the public will learn a new instrument or dust off an old instrument and join a scratch orchestra for a day in aid of our work with young people with complex lives, we're talking to some of our intrepid musicians about their experiences.

Meet Arabella

Now in its fourth year, Orchestras for All’s annual fundraiser Musical Chairs returns to Cecil Sharp House in Camden, London on Saturday 24 February 2018. Supporters of Orchestras for All have taken up the challenge of learning a musical instrument in just eight weeks and, for one day only, they'll have the chance to come together as an orchestra to rehearse and perform alongside young members of the National Orchestra for All. The day culminates in a public concert, all under the expert guidance of the Royal Academy of Music’s Head of Conducting Sian Edwards.

Many of the aspiring musicians taking part in Musical Chairs do so as an alternative to the more obvious New Year’s Resolutions and use it as a chance to realise long-held ambitions to take up a musical instrument or re-learn one after years. Musical Chairs provides the opportunity and motivation, and helps to raise money for one of the most innovative young charities in the UK. 


Comedian, actress and writer Arabella Weir is taking part for the first time this year, and is learning the marimba! Arabella explains “Not only have I never played the marimba before, I’ve never seen or heard it before but I do enjoy hitting things and I wanted to support the excellent work that Orchestras for All does with young people so I’m really looking forward to being part of this event.”

What is Arabella most looking forward to? “Making a LOT of noise and drawing excessive attention to myself hitting the keys. Although I am nervous about drowning others out whilst playing!” The programme for the day includes Orchestras for All’s very own arrangement of Aaron Copland’s epic Fanfare for the Common Man, and if this performance from the National Orchestra for All Summer Course is anything to go by, Arabella will have her work cut out to drown out that brass section.

As Founder and Artistic Director Marianna Hay says “Our fantastic supporters are rekindling their childhood love of music. Some have been digging out their dusty flutes and abandoned cellos from their attics and cupboards, some are learning a new instrument from scratch and will then be exposing their new talents to the public in a full scale symphonic performance – that takes a lot of guts!”

There’s still time to join Arabella and our intrepid Musical Chairs participants at this year’s event. All you need to do is pick your instrument (and we have plenty of spares at Orchestras for All HQ for you to try) and raise some sponsorship from your friends and family – all of which goes to support dedicated young musicians across the UK who face barriers to accessing music-making opportunities. Find our more and sign up today on our website!