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Campden music festival: the film!

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 15.47.00
Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 15.47.00

BAFTA and Emmy award-winning film-maker Sheila Hayman documented the coming together of the Chipping Campden Festival orchestra in her fascinating documentary How to Build an Orchestra. Here Sheila talks about the project ahead of its screening next Wednesday (18th May) at Chipping Campden Town Hall at 1.15pm

The Chipping Campden Festival orchestra is no normal collection of jobbing freeancers. It’s a pioneering experiment in teaching young players how to be orchestral musicians. At college, they are trained to have stage presence and play flashy solo numbers. Yet almost all of them will not end up as soloists, but as orchestral players - and colleges don’t prepare them for this reality.

What does it take to make these young musicians, trained to shine as soloists, collaborate as fluidly as a shoal of fish? How do they learn to sound like one instrument, without losing their individuality? To breathe together and feel the changing rhythms together? And equally importantly, where do they pick up the social skills they’ll need for a life of constantly playing with different groups, where they’ll have to get on with everybody, defer to any section leader, immediaely understand the culture of that ensemble - and remember that offering to fetch the tea is also crucial?

Leading the team are Tom Hull and Ruth Rogers, a charismatic and briliant husband and wife with a young family, who set an amazing example by being able to switch in minutes from scrabbling under a sofa for bits of lost Lego, to playing the solo part in a flashy and demanding concerto.

In 2015 Charlie Bennett, whom I have known for years, invited me to make a film about this process. Having spent many years working with crews on high end TV shows, it was exciting and liberating to pick up a camera and do it all myself. A bit exhausting too!

In the process I also discovered that the whole town gets involved in supporting this training: they open their homes, organise everything from ticketing to the supply of missing shoes, and bake enough cake and flapjack to feed the ravenous army that makes the normally quiet town anything but, for this one week of the year.

So it’s not a film for music specialists, but - I hope - a charming, moving and funny portrait of a week in the life of this wonderful process, full of great music and great characters.

And Stephen Carpenter, until lately CEO of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (one of the top bands in the country) emailed me yesterday to say, 'I've watched the CCFAO video all the way through and it is great’. Which was nice!

The screening is on Wednesday 18th is at 13.15 (lasts 45 minutes approx). DVDs will be available to buy, but can also be bought online from Launch Music International or directly from my website, sheilahayman.com.

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