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GUERILLA ORCHESTRA

December 26, 2010

‘If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain’.

To rephrase less eloquently, if people don’t go to concert halls bring the concert hall to them. Last Friday evening thats just what happened.

You may have been bemused by the appearance of an orchestra in the centre of Birmingham! This was a performance by the Guerilla Orchestra to protest against wide ranging cuts in music education and the cuts to many local arts organisations and music outreach projects who are losing their funding.

‘What the axing of all funding to higher education arts institutes says is that art is not important. What we do is not valid. That music plays no valuable part in this society. Of course this is ludicrous’. Heather Bird (Guerilla-in-cheif)

There were no placards, no banners, no marching, just a positive protest demonstrating exactly what the country could lose with it’s brutal cuts to the arts sector. We were lucky enough to get the backing of Peter Donohoe (an internationally famous pianist) who conducted the orchestra and fully supports the cause.

The GUERILLA ORCHESTRA was the brainchild of Manchester based  Bassist Heather Bird who was inspired by a similar protest in Holland where musicians turned up at a train station and performed Mambo from West Side Story. Our orchestra went for a tongue-in-cheek approach and performed the theme tune from Mission Impossible.

Aswell as the motely crew that made up the Guerilla Orchestra in Birmingham –  made up of around 40 professional, amateur and student musicians- renegade music groups simultaneously popped up in unexpected places in Liverpool and Manchester.

Many people got involved in GUERILLA ORCHESTRA via a facbook group posted by 2 weeks before the protest. Since the event GUERILLA ORCHETRA has gone global with interviews in The Strad – featuring arts based activism in Holland, Italy and UK, and Financial Times and an interview in the National newspaper of the United Arab Emirates.

A “phase two” GUERILLA ORCHESTRA plan is afoot, so watch out for more spontaneous musical performances in your town centres and shopping malls.

And why not? It’s about time classical musicians brought their wares into public spaces whether it’s to protest about government policy or simply to allow the public to experience the music in a more familiar, if unexpected context.

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