North Sea Radio Orchestra - North Sea Radio Orchestra

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"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”.[1] 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



"It has to be said that the North Sea Radio Orchestra (NSRO) are doing something really quite special. A collaborative of 20 plus performers their music reinvigorates the classical format with arrangements of absolute, and more defined, beauty.

Varying predominantly from acoustic guitar instrumentals to full on orchestral pieces, (xylophones, gongs and all) there’s the inspired swerve from mediaeval chants to Morricone-esque scores (‘Every Day Hath Its Night’) to the heartstring snatcher and exploration of counterpoint in ‘Chimes.’ Every song is played with assurance and caresses the ear with ease.

The most obvious contemporaries would be to God Speed You Black Emperor or the orchestral compositions of Brian Eno in their ‘post’ approaches, yet NSRO are far too uplifting to really align with the former, and more substantial in melody than the latter, allowing a more suited comparison in the sonic blankets of Gorecki and the tearfully simple beauty of Arvo Part, even the explorations of orchestral ambience from contemporary Max Richter.

North Sea Radio, in their ability to ebb and sway and permeate through styles without erring away from the constant series of lush orchestrations, have created the most beautiful album of the year and could surely sway even the most ardent distortion-pedal freak to step back and open their minds and hearts to this."-Artrocker
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