The lives of cancer patients, prisoners and the elderly were changed on Friday thanks to a series of inspiring performances across Leicester by the ‘sensational’ Street Orchestra of London (SOL).
Organised in partnership with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), the pop-up orchestra performed a mixture of classical and contemporary music, as they toured the city with the aim of taking orchestral music to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Cancer patients danced into Leicester Hospital’s Leicester Royal Infirmary Oncology Ward as they went for their treatment, whilst across the road, prisoners conducted a rendition of the Wallace and Gromit theme tune before their governor, Phil Novis rapped to a Wycliffe Jean number.
SOL’s ethos of coming into contact with hard to reach communities made them the perfect partner for DMU Music who in collaboration with DMU Square Mile helped set up the performances with its community partners.
DMU’s partnership with HM Prison Leicester which sees students work with the prisoners and staff on a number of projects, has recently been nominated for a national award as the only UK university to work with a prison in such a way.
The orchestra’s opening performance on Friday morning at the prison was met with laughter, cheers and even tears as they performed a mixed set which ended with an energetic performance by soloist Jean-Paul Samputu who joined the orchestra all the way from Rwanda.
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Chris Heighton, Head of DMU Music said: “The SOL project has been absolutely incredible and is a great illustration of the power of music and how, often quite unexpectedly, it can truly inspire communities."
“It’s great to hear this type of music in a concert hall, but it’s even better to take it out of that environment and bring it to people who wouldn’t normally experience it across Leicester so that they’ve got an opportunity to explore it and discover it for themselves.
“Our performances at the prison and the hospital have been received unbelievably well and a smile has indeed been put on people’s faces today and I’m quite overwhelmed by it actually.”
Speaking after the performances at HM Prison Leicester, the governor said: “That was just incredible and moving.
“You’ve changed a lot of people’s lives today and for that I thank you.”
DMU Music have been working on developing their department to provide students, staff and the local community with uplifting performances across multiple genres.
Following a packed out series which has included an International Jazz Series, Indian Classical Music and DMU’s very own orchestra, this collaboration with SOL is another initiative which is set to blossom.
Chris said: “I think it’s really amazing and I think it shows just the tip of the iceberg of the power of music and it really shows what music can do and how it can influence people.”
The orchestra’s six performances in the city were the most they’d performed in a single day as they began their three day tour of the East and West Midlands.
As well as visiting the prison and the hospital, they dropped in at the DMU campus for the largest performance of the day, before heading into the city to play in Jubilee Square and Market Square.
The orchestra, conducted by Dutch viola player for the Philharmonia Orchestra, Gijs Kramers said: “The performances today have been really amazing and we’ve had an amazing response from everyone we’ve performed to.
“Playing in this environment really shows what music can do to people and the emotions it brings.
“We hope this is just the spring board for us as we want to do even more tours, up and down the UK and we want to continue to take our music to even more hard to reach communities.”
SOL will return to Leicester in October 2017 as part of the HMP Leicester Arts Festival presenting a unique performance with the DMU Orchestra.
View all the photos from the DMU performance here.
Posted on Wednesday 19th July 2017