Scrapheap Orchestra

The 2011 Proms season included a performance so secret that it was kept off the program, and many of the instruments kept under blankets until the moment of truth. Behind the scenes, the reasons for secrecy became ever more apparent. The concert wasn’t even televised in an embargo to keep the surprise till later. Instruments made by professional makers were to be played by the BBC Concert Orchestra. So far so good, but each of them was made entirely from scrap. As part of an audacious BBC documentary, it wasn’t clear until the morning’s soundcheck whether the project would be given the green light, with serious musical concerns about quality and integrity at stake. This was Tchaikovsky’s 1812 as you’ve never heard it before, but as the curiosity of the audience deepened, it proved to be everything that Roger Wright, director of the Proms had predicted – the most extraordinary performance in more than 120 years of history of the Proms.

This was the culmination of months of preparation for BBC Four’s 90 minute film, Scrapheap Orchestra. I made the cellos, and the double basses.

Listen here for the radio recording of the Proms perfomance. Sit back, let it warm up, and don’t mind the intonation. In the immortal words of Radio 3, “you need never fork out millions for a a Stradivarius again. Simply pop down to your local tip” – priceless: Click Here