Archive for October, 2006

North Sea Radio Orchestra

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

North Sea Radio Orchestra
VÖ: 27.10.2006
Label: oof! records
Vertrieb: cargo records

North Sea Radio Orchestra is a unique chamber group who perform music of beauty and originality that has at its heart a lyricism of a particularly English nature. Featuring wind, strings, percussion, guitars, organs and voices, theirs is a world in which melody and harmony abound.
Founded in Summer 2002 by Craig and Sharron Fortnam originally to perform Craig’s classical works. He was trained at Dartington College of Arts, graduating in 1990, and never ceased to compose despite the attraction of pop. Since leaving Dartington, he has had pieces performed by esteemed groups such as the Kreutzer Quartet and the Britten Sinfonia. Craig and Sharron had previously worked together in the English psychedelic acoustic band Lake of Puppies with William D. Drake ““ this association continues as pieces by Drake are performed in the Orchestra and he has become involved as a performer, singing in the chorus and playing piano pieces as part of the ensemble.
North Sea Radio Orchestra has reinforced links between writers, singers and musicians on a prolific London scene drawing in members from surrounding projects and creating the opportunity, for some, to indulge in something classical in nature whether composing, performing or both. The Orchestra is committed to exposing the strength of the new British composers involved, to continue to premiere new works and to keep on growing. In the beginning, there were just eight musicians, now there are twenty members forming the Orchestra and the expanding North Sea Chorus. North Sea Radio Orchestra premieres works by Craig Fortnam, William D Drake and James Larcombe and also features improvisations and pieces composed collectively by its members. Many of the pieces are poetry settings and as well as classic lyrical poets such as Tennyson and Yeats, new poet Daniel Dundas Maitland is also featured. Solo vocal performances by Sharron Fortnam (described by Verity Sharp, presenter of Late Junction on Radio 3, as having a ‘pure’ voice) and Richard Larcombe lend a very English flavour to the music.
The Orchestra honed its craft in churches within the square mile of the City of London with concerts in St. Martin-within-Ludgate in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in St. Clement Eastcheap and St. Olave Hart Street. It was a rewarding experience which afforded the Orchestra the space and time to create a strong identity, musically and visually. They have since moved out of the square mile and indeed London including performances at St Giles in the Fields in London´s west end; Bush Hall, London and St. Michael’s Church, Blewbury.
NSRO have attracted many glowing reviews for their live and recorded performances. Their first release “˜The Flower´ (oof! records – 7″ single) has been broadcast many times on Radio 1, 2, 3 and 6music as well as regional stations. The success of the single can be attributed to the truly unique sound of NSRO – a strange alliance of various influences and elements: Benjamin Britten, Vernon Elliot, the Incredible String Band, London clay, Vaughan Williams, water from the Thames and shingle from Bankside.
Future concerts include an appearance at Bestival in September and a full orchestra performance to coincide with the album´s release (venue & date tbc).

Some reviews of “˜The Flower´ 7″ single:

“˜What makes the North Sea Radio Orchestra special is Fortnam´s gift for orchestration, the deft and original way he puts deceptively simple materials in the hands of sophisticated performers. Melody pours from his pen on every page”¦”¦”¦.They don´t sound like anyone else though you might detect echoes of Nick Drake, Peter Warlock or even Vernon Elliot.´
The Guardian (4 stars)

“˜The Flower is the ensemble´s official debut release – a beautifully gilded record that befits the description of timeless. Set around four parts / movements this is indeed tremendous stuff that bridges the divide between the high brow classical community and the more textured and thoughtful sectors sitting on the outer spectrum of pop.´
Losing Today Fanzine

“˜Starting off like a low-budget warped theme tune to a 70’s space themed children’s show impresses me, but the threadbare but luscious orchestrations that ooze through the speakers afterwards touch me like fading pictures of long lost loved ones, or a big touching stick.´

North Sea Radio Orchestra are a collective of around 20 musicians who adapt poetry for performance, as well as delivering modern classical works, and seem to enjoy playing in the churches of the City of London. So the four tracks of ‘The Flower’ are diverse in their reach, from the abstract, confused squirl of ‘Organ Miniature’, to the guitar-picked, gorgeously string-laden folk of ‘The Flower’, based around a poem of the same name by Tennyson, and what feels like fragmented take on Baroque classicism in ‘Stations Green’. It’s wonderful stuff so far removed from anything else you’re likely to find in a PlayLouder Bunch of 45s round-up, and as such, well deserving of your bended ear.

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