Teachers, doctors and funeral directors to do battle for place at Proms

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BBC announces the names of five amateur ensembles who will compete in the inaugural Great Orchestra Challenge

 

Teachers, doctors and funeral directors to do battle for place at Proms
Orchestras will be mentored by double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, with the series airing on BBC2 and BBC4. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

The BBC has announced the names of five amateur ensembles who will compete in the inaugural Great Orchestra Challenge to win a place at the Proms – with teachers, doctors, social workers, students, a cheesemaker, a funeral director and a lupin grower among their number.

The conductor Paul Daniel will judge the orchestras for the series, to be shown on BBC4, with the final airing on BBC2.

He said: “I’ll be looking for the orchestra that goes beyond technical excellence. They’ll have to capture the spirit and excitement of British amateur music, they have to really engage us musically and emotionally and connect with their audience.”

The winning ensemble will appear on stage at BBC Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park in London.

Teachers, doctors and funeral directors to do battle for place at Proms
Conductor Paul Daniel will judge the contest. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

One of the orchestras was established 125 years ago by men working in the Colne Valley textile industry. The Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra remains at the heart of the close-knit village community, population 6,000.

A more recent creation is the London Gay Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1996.

The other contenders are the North Devon Sinfonia; the Stirling Orchestra, formed in 1983, which includes students from Stirling University as well as a horse riding coach and a microbiologist; and the Birmingham-based People’s Orchestra, which boasts a particularly large wind section and10 saxophones.

The orchestras will be mentored by the double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku and the four-part TV series, presented by Katie Derham and beginning at the end of August, will follow the groups as they prepare for concerts.

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