In the break from the busy rehearsal schedule for the Opening Doors Performance on 9th March at 7.30pm in the McNeill Theatre Larne, we managed to grab a quick cup of tea with David Foster, flute player with the orchestra, to ask about the experience so far on the Opening Doors project and how this community orchestra got started.

How did Whitehead Community Orchestra get started?

When June Edgar was given her first cello she was told “Never let it gather dust - no instrument deserves that.” After her retirement June realised that there must be many people who at some time in their life had played an instrument and then due to changing circumstances such as leaving school, pressure of work or family commitments had stopped playing. She decided that she would form a community orchestra to give those people the opportunity to play their instrument and make music; the important thing being that playing live music, whether for enjoyment or relaxation, should be fun! Membership of the orchestra is open to anyone over the age of 18 years who can play an instrument - there is no audition for membership. The orchestra met for the first time on 23rd October 2017; members are mainly from East Antrim and we are very fortunate to have, as our conductor, Mike Russ, who also arranges music for the orchestra. (The Orchestra will play some of Mike’s arrangements tonight.)

What have you been doing as part of Opening Doors?

The “Opening Doors” project has been a new experience for the members - being involved from the early stages of a new composition which has been written for the orchestra and orchestrated especially for its instrumentation, for example, there are four members of the flute section in the orchestra; in Opening Doors the music has been orchestrated for four Concert flutes with one doubling on Piccolo and another on G Alto flute.

What can people look forward to in the Opening Doors performance on 9th March

Playing contemporary music with differing and changing time signatures has been challenging. It is also the first time that the orchestra has worked with soloists and a choir on a new composition - this has caused us to think about more than just the instrumental parts. Also many new friendships have been forged. The members of the orchestra have had the satisfaction of being part of putting the piece together and hearing the beauty of the music and the lyrics - the references to local places has given added interest and relevance to all involved (and at times been a source of intense debate!)

What are your greatest hopes for the Orchestra in the future?

The members of this young orchestra have had a good experience participating in the project although it has been hard work and required additional rehearsals. We hope that the orchestra will develop and improve and members will continue to have new musical experiences - all of course whilst having enjoyment and fun!

The Opening Doors Performance takes place on Saturday 9th March at 7.30pm in the MacNeill Theatre Larne.

Join us for a celebration of new music and song written by composer Sarah Murphy, poet Colin Hassard and others, inspired by material gathered over the past year from people across Ballymena, Carrick and Larne. The evening will be full of local flavour with references to Slemish, the Rhinka and the Black Arch and feature The Whitehead Community Orchestra, Island Voices Community Choir (with members of Larne Concert Choir), Music Yard Larne, soloists Sarah Richmond and Steven Irwin and members of the Ballymena Inter-Ethnic Forum.  

Admission is Free. Tickets are available from Larne Visitor Information Centre on 028 2826 2495 or online at Donations accepted in support of local performing groups