London Gay Symphony Orchestra to take part in BBC Proms TV contest

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The London Gay Symphony Orchestra is set to take part in a TV contest to celebrate the BBC Proms.

Four-part series ‘All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge’ will follow five orchestras as they compete for a place in the Grand Final.

It will begin on BBC Four at the end of August, with the final episode to be broadcast on BBC Two.

Founded in 1996, the London Gay Symphony Orchestra is the UK’s oldest LGBT orchestra.


The orchestra regularly plays all over London, with the occasional foray to Brighton, and is an enthusiastic supporter of multiple charitable causes.

The series will visit the orchestras in their hometowns, see them in rehearsal, taking part in masterclasses and staging their own concerts.

It will follow them on their unique journeys, showcasing their development as they work with Chi-chi and Paul and giving them unrivalled opportunities to perform at world-class venues, including the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The four other orchestras featured in the series will be: North Devon Sinfonia, Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra, Stirling Orchestra and The People’s Orchestra (based in Birmingham).

The winning orchestra will be crowned the UK’s most inspirational amateur orchestra and will perform on stage at BBC Proms in the Park, in Hyde Park.

The orchestras will be mentored by double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, and judging the orchestras will be conductor Paul Daniel.

Presenter Katie Derham said: “I feel so lucky through this series to be seeing at first hand the spirit and passion that goes into amateur music-making up and down the UK.

“I’ve played in a number of amateur orchestras myself, so it comes as no surprise, but it’s incredible to witness the sense of community, energy and joy felt by those who come together to perform in these orchestras.

“This series is an opportunity to shine a light on that inspiring world – to get under the skin of how amateur orchestras function, why people give up hours of their time to do it, and the myriad skills it requires.”

Judge Paul Daniel said: “It’s one of the glories of the UK that so many people play in amateur orchestras. The extraordinary power of music makes no distinction between amateur and professional: when an orchestra opens the music and sits down to play, every musician is searching for that moment when all their skills and talents come together to create the sound and colour and emotion that lies behind the little black dots on the page.

“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.

“No matter where and how they start out, I want my ‘best’ orchestra to discover and really develop its potential. Amateur orchestras have the very special bonus of playing purely for the love of the music and the joy of playing together: that’s an inspiration to all of us!”

Chi-chi Nwanoku says: “When people actually take the trouble to have a hobby, it means they’re deeply committed to something close to their hearts.

“When that hobby is to play a musical instrument, and to play that instrument in an orchestra, it is all the more moving, because it involves sharing and communicating through music, which for me lies at the heart of the cultural life of communities all over the United Kingdom.

“I believe passionately in the power of music and communal playing and have been doing everything I can to help each orchestra reach its full potential. Our orchestras have really pulled out all the stops and have done themselves proud and I’m sure you will be amazed by the results.”