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

SSOCs founder and musical director, Chris

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 very young, 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!

You're starting afresh in Devon.  What successes has SSOCs had so far?

I will never ever forget a queue of people going out of the church and all the way down the road and needing to put out extra chairs for our very first concert.  I'm extremely proud of everything we achieved in Wiltshire and I very much look forward to starting in Devon...if they're ready for someone like me!  

Can anyone join the orchestra and choirs?

The short answer is yes!  Unlike some 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?

The aim is to do modern music or classical music with a modern twist.  I love the idea of doing rock classics with a full orchestra, but I also get excited by film and game music.  The programmes will be themed and varied but hopefully super enjoyable for all involved and watching.

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!

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