From Goldie’s reimagining of his seminal Timeless album to Pete Tong and his Heritage project, ‘orchestra’ is surprisingly the latest buzzword on the electronic music scene. Graeme Park and the Hacienda Classical played on the pyramid stage at Glastonbury last week, Back to Basics (longest weekly running club night in the UK) presents a symphony in Leeds’ Millenium Square next month and even Jeff Mills has bought an orchestra to The Barbican. Going the extra mile, Kate Simko’s London Electronic Orchestra is constantly active, playing both her own compositions as well as classics like ‘Voodoo Ray’, all set to custom visuals.
The power of a body of musicians playing in one moment together can be an awe inspiring and even physical experience, resonating in a similar way to the collective vibe of a dancefloor surge. The two formats possibly have more in common that you’d think – as Jeff Mills explains to DJ mag: “Classical music is defined as formal or serious because it encompasses musicology of advance structural patterns and understanding. Dance music — also an advanced form — focuses on the area of communication through physical means.”
Allowing for the type of long journeys all the best DJ sets are famous for, classical music is a highbrow form. The same cannot always be said for dance music, usually reviled in cultural panic style tabloid articles. However, in a highly publicized move late last year, a court ruled that German techno institution Berghain is to be classed as a ‘high art’ institution, indicating that the genre is becoming recognized as culturally significant. Arguably classical music is inherently conservative whilst dance music is rebellious at its core. Taking classical sounds out of halls and conservatoires and into the club is a way to bring the two formats closer together.
Enter The London Contemporary Orchestra and it’s GABA-analog installation at London’s Printworks. An idea over a year in the making, the event features commissions from some of the UK’s leading new composers and music producers, presented within a unique immersive audio-visual environment. Four orchestras will play simultaneously with electronic sampling, across multiple different performances. The audience will be free to wander around the accompanying installation as the scores unfold.
Formed in 2008 by co-Artistic Directors Robert Ames and Hugh Brunt, the LCO has established itself as one of the UK’s most innovative and respected ensembles. It draws together London’s brightest young talent to explore and promote contemporary music to an increasingly wide audience. Just some of the composers, artists and brands they have collaborated with include Actress, members of Arcade Fire, Boiler Room, Goldfrapp, Beck and Foals. Notably, the LCO strings and choir feature prominently on Radiohead’s 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool.
More information on the composers involved in the project will be released in July. We’re sure Mozart will turning in his grave… and reaching for the lazers.