AN RCM Junior Department musician

RCM Junior Department collaborates with youth music service to create Darwin's Bio Orchestra

Friday 9 November 2018

The Royal College of Music Junior Department has collaborated with Luton Music Mix to bring young musicians from London and Luton together for the Darwin’s Bio Orchestra project. Led by visual artist Gayle Storey, Darwin’s Bio Orchestra is a unique interdisciplinary project combining science, music and art. The project represents the first outreach-based collaboration between the RCM Junior Department and a youth music service. 

Founded upon Charles Darwin’s research into ‘The Power of Movement in Plants', Gayle Storey collaborated with RCMJD Head of Composition Simon Speare, RCM Sparks and Luton Music Mix to produce several ‘Bio Orchestral’ scores, based upon the movements of plants in the sun. Plants were positioned in culturally significant locations across Luton and their movements over time recorded. These data lines were then turned into musical phrases and compositions by Simon Speare and 12 RCMJD composition students.


The first Bio Orchestra concert took place in Luton, where the Luton Youth Orchestra performed Simon Speare’s composition ‘Turning towards the Sun’ and a piece by RCMJD composition student Alexia Sloane, entitled ‘Richochets’. Alexia is a composer with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and was commissioned to write a piece for Classic FM’s 25th birthday in 2017.

On 6 October, members of the Luton Youth Orchestra joined the RCMJD Symphonic Wind Orchestra and Sinfonia to form a 120 piece orchestra on stage at the Royal College of Music. As well as ‘Turning towards the Sun’, 12 RCMJD student compositions were performed, accompanied by film projections of the 12 plants and locations that inspired the music.

Darwin’s Bio Orchestra is funded by Arts Council England. The RCM Junior Department and RCM Sparks are committed to widening participation and engaging in collaborative working practices with other youth music organisations. Collaborative projects such as Darwin’s Bio Orchestra are planned to become annual events.


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