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JOHN LUBBOCK talks to Bill Newman


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Apart from servicing schools through regular contacts, selective musicians are sent to other locations. 'Like old people's homes - our bassoonist went there. Already, we have done this all over the country, but there is a sense of having been to the same place we can now go on to the next one, and it has worked very well at our other residency in Nottingham during the last three years. Keeping in touch is far much realistic and the real reason to have an orchestra, otherwise you are just an employment exchange for yourself and your players.'

Lubbock saw it as a happy coincidence that the new faces among Oxford politicians and civil servants were looking at what the city provided and lacked, identifying the orchestral scene as 'Something that could be goosed up a bit! About a fortnight later I was inspired to suggest that with a new concert hall under negotiation, they also needed a new resident orchestra. Having acquired a shopping list, I was able to provide them with the shopping.' Being efficient, the ball was rolling by lst April 1997, very fast by local government standards; he envisaged 2 concerts every month with a huge project on 6th August. 'The city organizes play schemes during the summer holidays, and we had a composer to work with children writing a piece for performance by the St. John's Orchestra. Everyone came together on Play Day featuring literally thousands of children at a community centre with a big field surround. We devised it they so that they either all play together, or separately.' Being flexible to a degree, with groups of kids composing on the spot, 150 were also taken to the Tate Gallery, shown the Hogarth cartoons, afterwards writing an opera with complete words and music, then designing all the sets and costumes. 'The project took 18 months - some of the children were not that well educated or deprived - and came up with this amazing piece. Blue Peter came along and wouldn't take it. Very naughty! we toned it down as it was wild and wacky with every vice known to man! But it fitted together and was brilliant! Our percussionist-composer helped them with the orchestration. You saw it change their lives, by allowing them to be completely free and expressive.'

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Copyright © 17 June 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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