La Banda Europa

Check out this wonderful craziness.

I met Jim Sutherland last week at a Guardian event in Edinburgh. A really interesting and modest guy with a great vision for this orchestra.

I particularly liked the ideas of the four Hurdy Gurdies that feature in his orchestra.

He brought along a Japanese Saw player (Su-a Lee) who performed ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow on the saw’. Cracking and really beautiful.

You can hear some of the music on their myspace site here. I urge you to do so because it is stunning. Beautiful. Magical.

And this is what his myspace site says about the orchestra.

La Banda Europa is an extraordinary 35 piece band of virtuoso musicians assembled from some of the finest musicians across Europe

The Hurdy Gurdies are amazing to look at, like Elizabethan ships, with a sound somewhere between the violin and the bagpipes. The nykelharpas are similar, having a strange, other-worldly sound to them.”

In 2006, composer, Jim Sutherland was awarded the Creative Scotland Prize for artists of distinction It is one of the richest arts awards to an individual in Europe….. The Award allowed him time to develop his ideas for an orchestra that could make a unique ‘sound of Europe.

“All in all we’ve got some incredible musicians, some of the very best in the world on their particular instruments.”…… …..“The Armenians play an ancient instrument called the duduk made from the wood of the apricot tree and which sounds like a woman singing alto.”

The whole thing was initially Inspired by Jim’s score for the BAFTA and Brittish Comedy Award winning film Festival when they famously flew the Drambuie Pipe band over to Seville to record Jim’s score with La Banda Tres Caidas, an Eighty piece Semana Santa band.

“Instruments like the ancient Celtic carnyx will grab the eye – it’s the only one of its kind in the world and was reconstructed from one found in bogland in Scotland. It’s a bronze war horn which was 6ft long and held vertically above the player’s head.”

Jim initially put the orchestra together to perform his score for ‘Before the Wolf’, a theatrically presented outdoor production. Niel Butler of UZ events raised the funds and facilitated the shows. These first performances were very successful and have lead to enquiries from event organisers and festivals throughout Europe.

“Bagpipes of 5 countries, Swedish nyckelharpas, , Armenian duduks, Turkish drums, trumpeters from Scotland and Serbia……..Many of the players in the Banda Europa are exciting composers in their own right.”.