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Dark Peak Light Orchestra - a shining beacon for local amateur musicians

September 14, 2023

Music can be the lifeblood of creative communities, and one such venture in Glossop is giving amateur and enthusiastic musicians the chance to play in an orchestra.

We spoke to Emma Blaney from the Dark Peak Light Orchestra who told us all about the fantastic project - including a call-out for local Strings players!

How did Dark Peak Orchestra begin, and who started it?

“The Dark Peak Light Orchestra is linked to the Dark Peak Music Foundation (DPMF), which is a vibrant, innovative and ambitious music centre based in Glossop and Chinley. The DPMF welcomes young musicians from all over the Dark Peak, and the musical groups perform in a variety of concerts throughout the year.

“I identified that we have so many great opportunities for children, but nothing in the area for adults. With that in mind, I conducted a survey of the other parents, and found that there was a clear demand in the area to create an adult orchestra. We worked with Jeff Snowdon, the Principal Music Director for the DPMF, who was incredibly enthusiastic about this idea and kindly agreed to conduct the orchestra, and coordinate the music repertoire.

“After a delay due to Covid, in September 2021 the Dark Peak Light Orchestra was launched. Initially there were 15 players and since then we have grown to over 35 players!”

Why do you think orchestras such as this one are important for smaller towns?

“Having an inclusive community orchestra is a wonderful thing, it can catalyse inspiring and creative energy within a community.  Many of our players have commented that they have busy stressful lives, but playing together on a Tuesday provides stress relief, and is good for wellbeing. It enables people to make new friends and feel part of something that brings so much joy, to the players and also audiences alike.

“One of the players commented that music is their mental health lifeline, while another loves that it gives them something to do and focus on now their kids have gone off to uni.”

What are the requirements for any new members?

“There are no requirements as such, just enthusiasm to play music with other like minded people. We aim to be fully inclusive, our players ranging from confident beginner level right up to people who have been to music college. If you have an instrument and want to play, then you would be welcome, even if you feel very rusty!

What kind of music do you play?

“We aim to play a wide variety of music. This includes classical, ballet and film music, as well as music from the west end, or more popular tunes. We welcome suggestions from our players, and Jeff will compile a range of pieces that follow a theme for a concert, and provide the required level of challenge to our players to ensure everyone enjoys the repertoire.”

What are your plans for the future?

“The orchestra is going from strength to strength, and we are able to be more ambitious with our repertoire than we ever thought from the outset. We would love to grow further, and work with other groups in the area, such as local choirs, to put on some amazing performances. This year, we also formed some chamber groups with other members of the DPMF to put on various community events in Glossop. It would be wonderful to do even more of this in the future.”

Where and when do you practise?

“We practise in Victoria Hall, Talbot Street Glossop on Tuesday evenings during term time, from 7.30 to 9pm. We aim to do two concerts each year, one around Christmas time, and one in the summer.”

Is there a fee for practice?

“We have annual subs (£135) which can be paid in instalments. We also offer an OAP discount, and additional support for anyone who needs financial assistance.”

How can other people get involved?

“Anyone who plays an orchestral instrument that would like to play with us is welcome to attend.

“We are particularly seeking individuals who play Strings (violin, viola, cello and double bass), and French Horn and other lower brass instruments.

“Musicians can come along to 2-3 rehearsals with no financial commitment to see if you like it first. Email for more information.”