7th Nov 2023

The Gazillium Music Machine with Sophia Thakur

The ECO Close Encounters team were delighted to welcome over 400 hundred students from Tower Hamlets primary and secondary schools to celebrate the world premiere of brand new work written poet Sophia Thakur and composer Sally Herbert.

Oswald Ourania & The Gazillium Music Machine was conceived by the founders of Little People Big Noise, Dan Newell and Dr. Gregory Boardman. With the support of Kay Benbow, former controller of BBC CBeebies, Sophia and Sally brought the idea to life with an amazing poetic story and wonderful, filmic score. Conceived to grace venues around the world, the soundtrack delivers us to a space where film score meets concert stage. Oswald Ourania and the Gazillium Music Machine extends beyond pure entertainment and has been designed to feed into the needs of instrumental music educators wherever they practise their skills.

During 2023, with the support of the English Chamber Orchestra, education projects inspired by The Gazillium Music Machine will be delivered in tandem with Little People Big Noise in London, Southend and Calderdale. The stories and ideas contained within Sally and Sophia’s narrative will be used to inspire students to create and perform their own pieces of music within schools and community settings. In Tower Hamlets and Calderdale students will not only create musical scores but will also create animated films to accompany the music produced by the young participants.

The afternoon schools’ event at Cadogan and the subsequent evening public performance are part of a desire to create seamless transitions between ECO performance and work in the education space. ECO’s commitment to building new relationships with the community was highlighted by the presentation of a second new work Amelia & the Robot. This orchestral work, synchronised to film, was created by students from Tower Hamlets as part of Little People Big Noise’s Lights Camera Score initiative - a project that has been running in the borough since 2020. During summer 2022, working with composer Margarida Concalves Tower Hamlets students created, performed and recorded their own film score to be shared digitally and at music service concerts. As part of this new initiative, ECO were delighted to welcome those same students to hear an ‘upscaled’ version of their creation performed by the professional musicians of the orchestra.

During an early evening concert the orchestra repeated the afternoon’s student concert alongside a performance of Copland’s Appalachian spring. The resulting seamless transition between these three works provided a thought provoking exploration of music and narrative which ECO performed again in Southend during July 2023.