REPORT: Debut Concert of the Guildhall Studio Orchestra with Dave Arch

The  Guildhall Studio Orchestra rehearsing
Millie Ashton is to the left in the foreground
Photo credit: (c) Marc Usher 

On 17 October 2017, MILLIE ASHTON, a student in the second year of the B.Mus. (Hons) Classical Violin programme at Guildhall School, had the distinction of being leader of the Guildhall Studio Orchestra at its first ever public concert at Milton Court. This is her recollection of the project – Dave Arch’s Coming Home – and of the concert. Millie writes:

I loved every second of the first Studio Orchestra concert at Guildhall with Dave Arch. It was the first of its kind in a conservatoire, and also the first time we classical musicians had collaborated with the Jazz Department. We walked in with completely open minds, excited to see what would happen.

I listened to Dave Arch’s album Coming Home before the first rehearsal and thought it was very funky. Us classical lot (strings and wind) had a rehearsal with Dave Arch and the rhythm section to start with. It was very laid back and we covered most of the numbers, with Dave Arch and Malcolm Edmonstone (Head of Jazz at the Guildhall School) giving us notes and some really useful advice on how to cut across as a section once we had a full band playing alongside us. Some of the numbers looked quite rhythmically complex on a page, and to start with we looked at it from a very ‘classical’ perspective. What was brilliant was putting it all together with the band in the next rehearsal and shifting into a mindset of hearing and feeling what was on the page instead of reading it and ‘figuring it out’! It was great to be able to get our heads out of the music and actually listen to everything else that was going on around us. 100% something we should all do more often and apply to our classical playing in orchestral and chamber music. 

Dave Arch leading a Guildhall Studio Orchestra rehearsal

The most exciting part of the project was the concert day. It was the first time we would all be playing with the professional players and wow, it totally added that finishing touch and hit the ground running. I don’t think we quite knew what was about to happen! Hearing the solos from Tommy Blaize, Tori Beaumont, Graeme Blevins, Andy Greenwood, Andy Wood, Jeff Leach, John Parricelli, Laurence Cottle, Neal Wilkinson, Frank Ricotti and Paul Clarvis, left us string players, and I think also the rest of the students, in awe. The string writing enabled us to create a lush texture underneath the fabulousness of the solos. The whole section definitely played out more and moulded into the situation which was so much fun to play in and be a part of. We were so so lucky to be playing with all these amazing players and to be directed by Dave Arch. 

To go back to where I started, I loved loved LOVED this project. Dave and his band were incredible, playing with our friends from different courses was so much fun, the concert had limitless energy and we all had smiles on our faces.

Bring on the next Guildhall Studio Orchestra concert on Wednesday 10 January with Liane Carroll!

LINK: Preview feature / interview with Dave Arch about this concert

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