Darlington Hippodrome orchestral series

In late 2017, we began a new partnership with Darlington Hippodrome, following the extensive refurbishment of the venue. Through our evolving role as a national co-producer of world-class orchestral activity, especially in parts of the country that are less well-served culturally, we forged a partnership that would see orchestral activity embedded in the annual artistic offer of the Hippodrome.

A New Vision

Our vision was to sustain and grow an annual concert series, where an important feature would be to hold associated learning and participation activity to help build and broaden audiences whilst sharing skills and helping to develop the cultural infrastructure. We felt that the orchestral presence in Darlington should be based on an exciting mixture of British orchestras, each holding events for young children and families and also working with local young instrumentalists, composers and music leaders, as well as performing public concerts at the Hippodrome. In helping to curate and shape the Darlington series, Orchestras Live would ensure there is artistic synergy between the programming of different orchestras.

The Hallé, November 2017 and February 2018

To mark the reopening of the venue, young musicians worked with composer Ian Robertson and members of The Hallé to compose a brass fanfare, which they performed on stage during the ribbon-cutting celebration event. The fanfare was performed again a few months later during an evening concert by The Hallé as they launched the new orchestral series, a fitting choice of orchestra given the tradition of Hallé concerts in Darlington going back to the early 20th century. 

“I enjoyed the concert immensely and hope that the Hallé will return to Darlington and that other orchestras will perform there too.”

Audience feedback


Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, September 2018

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment gave a performance of Richard Strauss’ comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, performing live orchestral accompaniment to the silent film adaptation first screened in 1926. Also programmed were OAE’s TOTS concerts to engage local family audiences, held at the adjoining venue Theatre Hullabaloo (winner of Best Family Venue in the 2019 Fantastic for Families Awards). 

An education project also took place, with OAE musicians and music leader James Redwood working with young musicians from Wyvern Academy who composed a live music soundtrack for a short film. Their composition and the film about Darlington, specially made to go with their score, were premiered at a pre-concert event before the OAE’s Der Rosenkavalier evening performance. 

“This project built up the self-esteem of every student who was involved. Your team took some extremely reluctant learners and gave them the confidence to compose their own music, to create and express their own ideas.”

Kristen Peacock, Teacher at Wyvern Academy

Read more about the OAE film and music project here.

Royal Northern Sinfonia, January 2019

Continuing the pattern of projects linked to public concerts at the Hippodrome, Royal Northern Sinfonia delivered a creative composition project for local musicians from Carmel College. The young musicians worked with music leader Michael Betteridge and RNS playersto devise a piece of music to perform together on stage with saxophone soloist Jess Gillam in a ‘curtain-raiser’ event ahead of RNS’s evening concert performance. The orchestral offer for family audiences returned to Theatre Hullabaloo with two RNS Baby Sinfonia concerts in the previous week.

Sax Score project (c) Scott Akoz Photography

“It was a fun opportunity to work with people involved in professional music and then play the piece live with everyone. I had wanted to see a live orchestral performance for some time by seeing this event has made me sure that I’ll go to many more in my lifetime.”

Participant feedback

Read more about the Sax Score composition project here.