BBC Concert Orchestra performs music scores composed by Nottingham students, inspired by Wild Isles

Home » BBC Concert Orchestra performs music scores composed by Nottingham students, inspired by Wild Isles
Image from BBC Wild Isles of a puffin, hare and owl

The world-famous BBC Concert Orchestra is joining forces with students and researchers from Nottingham’s universities for a week-long showcase of exciting events and performances in the city.

As part of the highly-acclaimed orchestra’s partnership with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University and their biannual residency weeks, this visit from 18-22 March 2024 also connects to Sustainability Action Week.

The exciting collaboration will see the BBC musicians rehearsing, performing, and recording University of Nottingham student compositions set to films by Nottingham Trent University students. The orchestra will be led by the conductor and composer Ben Palmer with the BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning composer George Fenton mentoring the students through the week. This will give students the opportunity to learn from two of the top international figures in film music.

The partnership launched last year as part of the Universities for Nottingham commitment – a joint Civic Agreement between the universities Vice-Chancellors and further Nottinghamshire partners – which aims to develop and enhance cultural life in Nottingham. The first residency week in November gave students from both universities the opportunity to work with the BBC Concert Orchestra and internationally-renowned Nottingham musician Seckou Keita.

For the upcoming March residency week, Nottingham Trent students were tasked to create short films of up to three minutes, inspired by Sir David Attenborough’s Wild Isles, the landmark BBC nature series, which were then scored by students in the University of Nottingham’s Department of Music.

The students were challenged to create and explore themes of nature and sustainability, and the final productions will come together with in a live performance at Lakeside Arts on the evening of Thursday 21 March, conducted by Ben Palmer.

Third year music student, Paul Emmett, who composed one of the scores, said:

“The film I was given was great as there were lots of very short scenes which I could write little motifs and themes for, giving life to the paper animals and scenes. I wanted the music to come across as playful and energetic and so was able to use a lot of movement, not only in the notes each musician will play, but also in different time signatures and key changes throughout.

“To be able to work with musicians at the top of the profession is an incredible opportunity, and one which I know very few people will be fortunate to be a part of. It has been one of the biggest highlights of my final year at Nottingham, and one which will stay with me for many years to come.”

Dr Elizabeth Kelly, Associate Professor in Music Composition, said:

“Our partnership with the BBC Concert Orchestra is offering students from both Nottingham universities unprecedented access to top industry professionals as they develop their creative work. Our students’ passion around sustainability is evident in their film/music collaborations, and we are delighted that the BBC Concert Orchestra will perform these works for our community on 21 March at Djanogly Theatre.

“We are also looking forward to sharing these films with the BBC Concert Orchestra recordings with the larger public online.  We are delighted to be working with them to showcase our emerging Nottingham talent engaging with issues of global importance.”

Amy Bere, Director of Culture at Nottingham Trent University, said:

“This significant partnership with the BBC Concert Orchestra is enabling students unique opportunities for collaboration and creativity, as well as real-world learning through commissioned films, scores and music production. We are pleased that students across both universities and the Confetti Institute have gained experience of working with professional artists at the BBC, and we look forward to working in partnership in the coming years to provide more exceptional experiences for our students and share these with the community of Nottingham.”

Further rehearsals by the BBC Concert Orchestra will be taking place at the David Ross Sports Village on Tuesday 19 March, in preparation for a thrilling symphonic encounter hosted at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall on Wednesday 20 March.

The spectacular Wild Isles in Concert will feature a cinema-sized screen showing highlights from the BBC series, where the audience can expect to see breathtaking images of the wildlife of the British Isles, as George Fenton presents and conducts the full BBC orchestra in a live performance of the soundtrack he composed for them.