The Birth Of An Orchestra
Q & A with director Chris J Anderson

What first started your interest in music?

Music has been a huge part of my life pretty much since birth.  When I was a baby, dad used to play music next to my crib...even when I was sleeping (and it wouldn't be turned down!)  It would be anything from Black Sabbath to Beethoven, and everything in between!  When I was 6, I started teaching myself piano and my Grandad, who had an electric organ in his living room, would teach me stuff to play.  

What made you want to start an orchestra and choir?

I got my first Musical Director job at the age of 16.  Even then I loved helping cast members find their musical gold and help them with their confidence in their performance.  When I was at college doing my A-levels I started my own gospel choir and got opportunities to conduct the concert band and the orchestra.  I loved doing it and decided one day I'd love to have my own orchestra and choir!  It took a while to get there, but good things come to those who wait!

Why start now?

When COVID-19 hit the globe, everyones life was turned upside down.  My main job (teaching music privately) became an online thing and I found that I finally had the time to do stuff I'd made excuses about not doing!  Starting the Orchestra was one of them.  During 2020, I started seriously thinking about it and how I could make it work.  I made mental plans.  2021 came along and 

I figured that I'd go for it, and here we are now!

Can anyone join the orchestra and choirs?

The short answer is yes!  Unlike other orchestras and choirs we don't want to turn people away.  So even if we have lots of one instrument or voice, we want everyone to feel that they can join in and be part of something special.  We don't audition people to join us but we recommend that they are grade 5 or above on their instrument(s) and that singers just love singing and want to sing in a group.  We won't be having "seats" that I mean the 1st and 2nd of instruments will simply be about the harmony rather than the "importance".  We will have no stars of the show and no divas!  Everyone is just as important as the next person.  After all, if I don't have any singers or musicians I'm just a bloke waving his arms in thin air!

What kind of music can we expect to hear/play?

An invigorating and varied program has already been planned for the first two years.  Our Spring concert will tend to be more classical with our Summer concert being more contemporary.  Autumn and Winter will see the concerts mix classical with "popular" music in our Halloween Spooktaculars and our Christmas Crackers!  The plan is to perform music that isn't over done, but also not turning our back on the old favourites.

Where do you see SSOCs in 5 years time?

I'd like to think that we will be a fully established orchestra with an ever-increasing membership.  It is to be hoped that we will go from strength to strength and will be respected as a viable entity in the music world of Wiltshire.  By then we will have performed over 20 concerts!

What is your favourite group of instruments and why?

Good question!  I love the sonority of the cello, the versatility of the piano, the coolness of the double bass, and the jazziness of the sax!  So I can't really single out a single group, they all excite me for different reasons - and they are all as important as each other! (Cop out much? Sorry!)

What can people expect from you as an MD?

Support.  Encouragement.  Vision.  Enthusiasm.  Energy.  Knowledge.  Passion.  Creativity.  Fun.

What do you expect from your musicians?

Commitment.  A willingness to learn (regardless of experience).  Enthusiasm.  A sense of humour.  They take their craft seriously - but have serious fun with it!