The BBC is inviting amateur musicians to pick up their instruments and Get Playing – a new scheme that will culminate in people joining together in a ‘virtual orchestra’, led by American conductor Marin Alsop, during the Last Night of the Proms celebrations.
Based on the same idea as Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir of 2011, the virtual orchestra will involve thousands of videos of amateur musicians playing The Toreador Song from Bizet’s Carmen, all edited together to create a single three-minute performance that will be screened at the Proms in the Park on Saturday 10 September.
But this ensemble will not be limited to the standard orchestral strings, woodwind and brass, as music has been provided for everything from a banjo to a tin whistle. Instrumentalists from non-European classical music traditions are also provided for, with parts for a sitar, gezheng (or any pentatonic instrument) and the mandolin also available.
Anyone over the age of 16 is able to play in the virtual orchestra, simply by clicking onto the BBC Get Playing website to get the music, taking a video of themselves playing it, and then uploading it up to the site. Whether you have just begun playing, or are well on the way to becoming the next Yehudi Menuhin, all standards are welcome.
Get Playing, however, is not just about the virtual orchestra, but about encouraging people to enjoy playing a music instrument in general – the website also features masterclasses from leading performers including Alison Balsom (trumpet), Evelyn Glennie (percussion) and Nitin Sawhney (guitar). ‘It’s incredibly important to support amateur musicians,’ says Alsop, ‘because music is a way to connect, communicate… and perhaps it’s a way to promote tolerance and peace in a world that desperately needs it.’
A host of presenters from across the BBC will be taking part in the virtual orchestra, including Gemma Cairney and Clara Amfo (BBC Radio 1), the Reverend Richard Coles (BBC Radio 4), Shaun Keaveny (BBC 6 Music) and Nihal (BBC Asian Network).
Participants must submit their performances by 27 August. For more details, visit the BBC Get Playing website.