Tootle Round the Shops

In a welcome change from the piped muzak which fills most malls, shoppers at the city’s St James Centre were treated to a “flash mob orchestral procession” when members of the Edinburgh-based Tinderbox Orchestra burst into action.

It's a novel way to hit the high notes - use an escalator!

A guitarist and a trumpet player began the performance before making their way through the mall and picking up extra musicians who emerged from shops, cafes, benches and escalators. The colourful event culminated with the entire 25-piece youth orchestra busking in the shopping mall to a piece they had written called Meltdown.

More than 50 shoppers joined on the end of the procession as they made their way through the centre. The students themselves came up with the idea and set about trying to put it into action, phoning around various shops in the centre to seek permission.

Jack Nissan, 27, who lives on Leith Walk, is the founder and co-ordinator of the orchestra, which is Edinburgh’s first completely non-classical orchestra. He would like to hold similar public events in future, possibly at other shopping centres. Mr Nissan, who plays the saxophone in the orchestra, said:

“It was fantastic. We didn’t really know how it was going to go down because it was in a shopping mall so we couldn’t rehearse it, but it worked perfectly. We picked up a really good crowd and got a good following through the shopping centre. We ended up in an escalator loop by John Lewis with the orchestra going up and down for a while. It worked a treat.”

The event raised around 300 from collections and sponsors, which will go towards putting on more events for young people and taking the orchestra to the Scottish music festival Garden Party at Kelburn Castle next month. The group later performed a number of pieces outside the main entrance of the shopping centre,including Fire by Jimi Hendrix.

The orchestra was set up in October and mainly rehearses at the city’s Jazz Bar. Its members range in age from 13 to 21. Mr Nissan said:

“Lots of people had their cameras out on Sunday and were taking videos and photographs. It was hilarious. I think there was a bit of surprise and shock and then everyone joined in. I would love to do something similar in future. It was an interesting learning curve, especially for the students, to learn a piece by heart and be very flexible with it. It was very different to how a normal orchestra works, which involves reading music strictly from the page. Orchestras are stuck in a conventional classical shell so often. The idea is to use the depth and power of the orchestra to play modern styles of music which are meaningful to young people.”

 

Edinburgh Evening News June 2011

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