North Sea Radio Orchestra - I A Moon
"The band/group(led by Craig Fortnam) have been described as 'unique english chamber music' which, at best, only describes the tools of their trade, you'll hear chamber strings, choral music, english folkiness, romantic poetry, experimental organs, modern classical minimalism, acoustic guitar, wind instruments and performances of the highest calibre.
The music is very beautiful and amazingly varied; short solos, epic pieces, ancient, and modern but the album never becomes fragmentary. As well as featuring the superb instrumental pieces there are the 'songs' where pieces of poetry(Yeats,Shelley...and some original lyrics) are sung in choral harmony or crisp clear solo (by the wonderful Sharon Fortnam).The music can be soft and soothing one minute then lively and vigorous the next but is never bland. It demands your attention and transports the listener to a place of timeless wonder.
I have seen them compared to "Rachel's" and in particular their fantastic "Music for Egon Schiele" but the most obvious comparison to draw would be with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra (particularly their first album(Music From the Penguin Cafe)which is quite different and more intense than their later work), but NSRO are, perhaps, more song based. Fans of the latter would, I feel, have no problems liking this. Anybody expecting a pale imitation (or even a good one!) can think again the music found here has its own distinct character.
No one else is doing anything like this at the moment and, regardless of genre, this is as good as anything out there. Beautiful, unique; a treasure."-William J. Walker
"North Sea Radio Orchestra (generally abbreviated to NSRO) is an English contemporary music ensemble and cross-disciplinary chamber orchestra (plus chorus).
The NSRO was set up mainly as a vehicle for the compositions of its musical director, Craig Fortnam, but has also performed works by William D. Drake and James Larcombe. The ensemble is notable for its post-modern fusion of Romantic music and later twentieth century forms, and for its bridging of the worlds of contemporary classical music, British folk music, London art rock and poetry (setting music to poems by W.B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Daniel Dundas Maitland).
The North Sea Radio Orchestra is an ensemble of varying size, drawing on a pool of up to twenty members. It performs compositions which range from single-instrument solos and voice-and-guitar duos up to full chamber-orchestra-and-choir pieces (and all points in between, including assorted trios, quartets, quintets etc.). The instrumentation within the ensemble features woodwind, strings, orchestral and electronic percussion, nylon-string guitar, chamber organ, piano and the human voice. Between six and ten members sing as "the North Sea Chorus".
Compositionally, the NSRO favours original material with elements of the following – tonal/melodic classical composition, English choral and festival music, modern and ancient folk music, and minimalism. Some improvisation is also encouraged. The NSRO themselves cite influences including Benjamin Britten, television composer Vernon Elliott, The Incredible String Band, Vaughan Williams, and more metaphysical influences such as “London clay, water from the Thames and shingle from Bankside”. Various critics have also made comparisons to the music of rock/classical/crossover musicians such as Simon Jeffes’ Penguin Café Orchestra, Sean O’Hagan’s High Llamas, Frank Zappa, Clogs, Sufjan Stevens, Max Richter, Nick Drake, Virginia Astley, Kate St John and Peter Warlock. Since 2010, the band has displayed a stronger influence of Krautrock.
Another frequently-cited compositional influence on the NSRO is Tim Smith, leader of the British psychedelic rock group Cardiacs (which incorporates influences including Early and baroque music). The NSRO is generally regarded as being part of the collection of varied musical groups connected with Cardiacs: it includes in its lineup one former and one current member of Cardiacs, plus at least five other musicians associated with the band."-Wikipedia