UK is set to have its third gay orchestra next week.
The orchestra will be the first LGBTI symphony orchestra in southwestern UK, and will be launched in the city of Exeter.
This comes after two other UK gay symphony orchestras currently in existence – the London Gay Symphony Orchestra, of BBC’s All Together Now fame, and the Birmingham Gay Symphony Orchestra.
Founded by city-based conductor Tim Pithers together with violinists Anna Davis and Ellen Stratton, the orchestra will be rehearsing for the first time on 7 October, next Friday.
So far it has already recruited nearly 30 members, who will have only two days to prepare for their first performance – a free concert on 9 October at St David’s Exeter Community Centre featuring pieces from the big screen, West End and traditional classics.
Polsloe-based Pithers, who conducts for various orchestras in Exeter, shared a little about how the idea to form the orchestra came about.
‘We (referring to Davis, Stratton and himself) all play in different orchestras and it has been on our radars for quite some time, but we had not vocalised it with each other,’ said Pithers.
Pithers added: ‘We all got together one evening and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to start a LGBTI orchestra in the South West?’, and it went from there.’
‘It’s great to be doing something we all feel passionate about. There are gay orchestras in Birmingham and London which are large urban areas, whereas Exeter is quite a small city so we opened it up to the South West.’
According to Pithers, the orchestra – which will draw members from across Devon, Somerset, Dorset and further afield- has received an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ response.
However, he also acknowledged the constraints of such an orchestra.
‘The challenge is the geological constraints, so instead of weekly rehearsal nights we will have four or five weekends a year where we get together for intense rehearsals in different places in the South West, ending in a performance,’ said Pithers.
Pithers, though, is excited about its plans ahead.
‘The first concert will be an informal programme before we establish ourselves. Our intention is to grow into a full-scale symphony orchestra within 12 to 18 months,’ said Pithers.
Pithers added: ‘I think it’s important to have a safe, comfortable and supportive place for the LGBTI community for music making. It’s really exciting to be launching this new musical venture which aims to reach out to the community across the South West.’