The People's Orchestra - how it all began

Play, Inspire, Achieve.

The People’s Orchestra was founded by Sarah Marshall in 2012. Initially a six-month Arts Council England funded project run by Sarah’s social enterprise The Change Consortium, The People’s Orchestra became the very first orchestra in the UK to become a Charitably Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

Back in 2012 the idea was to set up a standard format symphony orchestra, which mainly played film music and filled a gap in provision for musicians leaving education who wished to continue to perform at a high standard.

Initial audition immediately showed a real need for a new format of orchestra, so many great flute players that it became impossible to choose just two. So, the orchestra became a true community orchestra by accepting everyone, regardless of instrument, but who could play to the standard the orchestra demanded. And still six years on it doesn’t matter if you haven’t picked up an instrument for 20 years or you can’t make every rehearsal, everyone is always welcome.

Six years on and The People's Orchestra epitomises genuine equality of opportunity, whereby musicians from every socio-economic and ethnic background, from teens to seniors, come together to share the joy of music making with one another, and with their ever-increasing audiences in live performance.

Based in West Bromwich Town Hall, Sandwell the orchestra plays a wide variety of film, TV and show music as well as light popular tunes to audiences in one of the best, yet unknown live music spaces in The Black Country.

Not afraid to do something a little different the orchestra can be heard rocking the classics, premiering new music from award winning film composers and even letting musicians lose to compose for silent films. Loving the unusual The People’s Orchestra just love a good flash mob. For Virgin Trains and Trinity Mirror they played Come On Eileen to commuters on a train from Euston to Birmingham, and on behalf of Oxfam thanked Yogscast for their donations by flashmobbbing their Q&A session at a gaming convention at the NEC. The orchestra were delighted to hear that Yogscast went on to give a further £200,000 of funding to Oxfam the following year. This is a testament to the desire of the orchestra to help others where ever and whenever it can.

2016 was a landmark year for the orchestra as it was chosen for the as one of the 5 best and most inspiring amateur orchestras for the BBC’s All Together Now: Great Orchestra Challenge.

Since you're here...

… we have a small favour to ask. More people than ever are being helped back into work thanks to our players, and our outreach work is helping more and more people in our community, but this year has been the most difficult ever to raise the grant funding we need to keep going. Fears over Brexit hasn’t help and we really don’t want to increase ticket prices – we want to make our concerts open to all, including the most disadvantaged in our community. So, you can see why we need to ask for your help. The People’s Orchestra is a charity. We play great music but importantly we help loads of people back into work, 270+ to date. Our staff help students gain great marks for university projects too. We are not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. We’re volunteer led, inclusive and diverse. And this gives us the power to yes to all sorts of community causes. It lets us challenge the norm - and prove a point. Being different works. And at a time when music teaching in schools is declining and funding for school orchestras is at an all-time low, we need to expand to fill the gaps and support those who need us, it’s what sets us apart from so many others. The People’s Orchestra long-term sustainability relies on the support that we receive directly from our followers. And we would like to thank all those who are helping to make our future secure. But we cannot stop here. As more of you offer your ongoing support, we can keep investing in quality music and community support. We can remain a strong, progressive force that is open to all. If everyone who attends our concerts, or reads our news, who likes us, also helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as £1, you can support The People’s Orchestra – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.