Show Calendar

ACCA Conversations: Joe Acheson, producer and composer of Hidden Orchestra.

Hidden Orchestra 2
Dawn Chorus
Hidden Orchestra 1

Ahead of Hidden Orchestra’s arrival at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts this Saturday 9 of December, Laura Ducceschi, our Contemporary Music Programmer talks with producer and composer Joe Acheson about his music under the alias of Hidden Orchestra. They discuss Joe’s creative process, new single ‘Alyth’ and about his inspirations for his eclectic and ‘imaginary orchestra’.

We’ve compiled a few questions from the podcast but to listen to much more from their conversation click here:

How would you describe Hidden Orchestra?

Hidden Orchestra is like an imaginary orchestra that I compile myself in my studio using a lot of recordings of different musicians that come down and record on my studio. Partly things I’ve written for them, bits of improvisation that I use as sampling material. I combine all these different players to create an orchestra that doesn’t really exist, layered with lots of drums and bass and field recordings. I often record people that I meet while travelling and all kind of things that would be impractical to get people together. Also, the way I work with recordings, people sometimes find it a bit unusual at first but quite often I would do sort of directed improvisations which I use as sampling materials. So, I’ll look for hooks and phrases and individual notes and build what I want out of that, so it’s a very free way to put an imaginary group together.

You have an album release very soon, I believe, there is an announcement coming out in a couple of weeks and there is a single dropping imminently called ‘Alyth’, is that how you pronounce it?

Alyth yeah, it’s actually a small village in Scotland, well a little town. I went there a few years ago for like a week. It was sort of a writing retreat, in a little cottage and in that track, there are a lot of rain, fire and birdsongs that were all recorded when I was there. It also features a lot of Scottish harp recordings with my collaborator Mary Macmaster playing some traditional folk music. Tying everything together with the Scottish themes.

You dropped an album earlier in the summer called Dawn Chorus, what’s going on with this new exciting release?

It’s a remix album, so the sort of idea behind Dawn Chorus was that each track is set to a different Dawn Chorus recording, so I sort of collect them along other recording while I’m traveling on tour. This was a really great opportunity to make a cohesive album of remixes, with carefully chosen artists. I’m really lucky that I get a lot of people that either influence me or people I am just a fan of.

If I was to make a whole lot of inappropriate presumptions I would imagine, from what I hear in your music, that you have been a classically trained musician and you were very much into a life in nature and you like to dance, that’s the kind of picture that comes to mind from what I’m hearing. Is anything of this true?

Yeah, I grew up in the countryside and that was the great things of living in Edinburgh and again Brighton, being so close to really beautiful countryside. I was classically trained, started out mostly singing in choirs and that was my biggest influences both on the aesthetic but also the compositional style. Maybe the reason it is hard to pick out individual instruments when you listen to it, is because I like to stack up lots of recordings on top of each other. It ends up being that the overall sound is more important than the individual voices, in that kind choral sort of way. And yeah, I like to dance.

Tickets for the show are available here.

ACCA Conversations: James Weisz, director of The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio

The Circus Project 5

 “Weisz’s formula includes teaming a small professional cast with local children. The productions are high quality but touchable, a perfect access point for young first-time theatre-goers.” The Stage

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts are pleased to be handing over our space this Christmas to JW Productions for The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio. We speak to director James Weisz about his career as a director and producer of the pantomime tradition. The show will run here from 20 December to 6 January.

Why did you get involved with theatre?

One of the very first stage performances I attended was The Fantastic Mr. Fox at the Gardner Arts Centre (now named Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts). I was only a few years old yet I still remember being completely captivated by the story, the action and the excitement of the play. It was my introduction to theatre and from that moment on, my love for it has never faded. It doesn’t matter what genre, I’ll be there at the drop of a hat, and I’ll travel far and wide to get there!

In the mid-1990’s, I attended a theatre Summer school on the University of Sussex campus, with a final performance at the end of the week on the (then called) Gardner stage. From 2001-5 I worked in the chorus, and then it was the leap to stage management for me at Christmas. Thus, began my career in theatre.

Is this why you decided to come to perform with us?

Yes! It is such a thrill to be able to bring our Christmas show here. It’s a wonderful feeling of going full circle and it feels completely right to be bringing a production ‘home’. The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio is an unusual tale that feels – to me – a perfect fit for Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. For this show we are collaborating with Brighton’s The Circus Project who will be bringing stunning aerial acrobatics and general fun to the production.

How would you describe the show to be?

Well, rehearsals have begun and are as exciting and full of energy as we had hoped. The joy of pantomime is the diverse nature of it. Yes, we are delivering a well-crafted and well performed story, but it’s a medium that allows everyone to have fun too. Come along for a night with a wealth of comedy, a diverse range of music and musical styles, along with boo-able villains and cheer-able heroes. So, no matter what age you are, I am sure you’ll enjoy it. Fall into the panto magic, bring out the child within, sing along with the festive tunes, and I dare you not to have a big smile on your face by the final curtain. 

Remember, young people, don’t tell fibs or your noses will grow! Season’s greetings.   


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