Orchestra of the Swan

Biography Orchestra of the Swan

Orchestra of the SwanOrchestra of the Swan

David le Page
Born on the channel island of Guernsey, David Le Page began playing the violin at the age of seven. He was offered a place at the Yehudi Menuhin school aged twelve and has since forged a diverse career as a performer, composer, producer and arranger.

Le Page’s violin playing has a natural, warm tone and an instinctive, improvisatory style, while his eclectic approach to writing, arranging and performing has been formed by an interest in many musical genres; from baroque and folk through to jazz, contemporary classical and experimental rock, pop and electronica. A passion for audience inclusion and a readiness to blur the edges of musical boundaries have contributed to his unique approach to programming. This combines a rare ability to present audiences with something new and challenging whilst allowing them to feel relaxed and engaged.

He appears regularly as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader and has formed his own groups, the Le Page Ensemble, The Harborough Collective, Subway Piranhas and Mysterious Barricades. He is leader of the Stratford-Upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan.

His involvement with new music has led to participation in numerous commissions and world premieres that have included working closely with composers such as John Woolrich, Thomas Ades, Douglas Cuomo, Paul Moravec, Tansy Davies, Gerald Barry, John McCabe, Huw Watkins, Joe Cutler, Joe Duddel and Errolyn Wallen. Cross-genre collaborations have included projects with Keith Tippett, Partikel, Seckou Keita, James Schlefer, Benet McLean, Harvey Brough, Clara Sanabras, Billy Jenkins and Roger Eno. In 2017 he was invited to join Propellor, a ten piece ensemble featuring members of folk groups Mcneill & Heys and The Fair Rain, to create a sonic landscape installation as artists in residence at Snape Maltings Open Space.

He has regular duo partnerships with pianists Viv McLean and David Gordon. With Gordon, who is also a jazz pianist, composer and harpsichordist, he created Blurred Lines, an ongoing project which aims to transform the conventional recital into something unexpected and intriguing.

David Le Page has curated programmes for Chroma Ensemble and Opera North including the Balkan-influenced Parklife which was also part of the Latitude festival in 2016. He was musical director for Opera North’s Entranced in the Autumn and Winter Wonderland and in 2014 he performed Paganini Caprices for Hilary Mantel’s Shaking Hands with Satan talk at the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds and at the Royal Opera House in London.

In 2013 David created Harmony & Imagination Recordings, a label through which he has released four albums of his own material (The Reinvention of Harmony and Imagination, As The Crow Flies, Midwinter and Glimpses of the Seagull), two albums of solo violin music (Between Heaven and Earth and Metamorphosis), Barcos, an album with Argentine composer and Bandoneon player Eduardo Garcia and a recording of works by Chopin performed by British pianist Viv McLean. A new album of his own pieces for violin and piano, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page was released in the February 2018 as well as Samvaad a Balkan/Indian influenced collaboration with cellist Clare O’Connell and drummer Eric Ford.

David is artistic director of the successful Harborough Concerts and also of Le Page Ensemble Concerts in Southwell presenting around twenty performances a year. Concerts this season included a complete live performance of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album reworked by David Le Page for its 50th anniversary.

In 2017 he created The Diving Bell with cellist Clare O’Connell, an experimental night of music that takes place in intimate venues across the UK. The Diving Bell brings together musicians from all genres and presents three contrasting sets, the last of which is an entirely new collaboration between all performers. David plays on a violin made in 1874 by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.

Orchestra of the Swan
With its breathtaking range of musical activity, Orchestra of the Swan, under the Artistic Direction of David Le Page, is passionate about audience inclusivity as exemplified by its adventurous and accessible programming and pioneering work within the community. Founded in 1995 and based at the Warwick Schools Foundation (WSF), we work in close partnership with the WSF, The Courtyard Hereford, Drapers’ Hall Coventry, Stratford Play House and Number 8, Pershore alongside music education hubs, the Armed Forces, Coventry University and the Birmingham Conservatoire. Community organisations are at the heart of our operations, ensuring all activity is designed for, and with, the communities in which we work.

Our innovative mixtape albums, which present an eclectic range of styles and often blur the lines between genres, have achieved over ten million audio streams globally. Delivery of activities for people living with dementia, visual impairment, mental health issues and a range of disabilities, affirm the profound therapeutic power of music. Our regular family concerts, school and university workshops offer us the chance to explore and create fascinating musical experiences for new generations.

Concerts across the region and beyond

We perform over 45 concerts per year in collaboration with distinguished guest conductors and solo artists, bringing the music of the world’s most celebrated composers to our loyal and evolving audiences. Our strong commitment to new music has resulted in the commission and premiere of 72 new works from composers such as Roxanna Panufnik, Dobrinka Tabakova, Errollyn Wallen, Huw Watkins and Trish Clowes.

Our themed Night Owl concerts take place in an intimate cabaret-style, in which many of the potentially intimidating classical performance protocols are refreshingly absent. New audiences subsequently feel more relaxed and can engage more spontaneously with the music. These performances are often creatively lit, make use of projections, staging, and narration, and feature a wide variety of guest artists, not only from the classical world but from other genres; while a dynamic new touring series – Swan Projects – is gaining momentum. The first of these is Earthcycle, a project, with associated educational resources that focus on the impact of climate change feature Vivaldi’s Four Seasons alongside a new commission by jazz/baroque composer and Associate Artist David Gordon, interspersed with four folk songs arranged for orchestra by David Le Page and sung by Jackie Oates.

Newly-created albums, online streaming and digital concerts

Covid lockdown was the spur for a dynamic new strand of digital creativity which is now key to our identity and purpose. Our mixtape albums – Echoes, Timelapse, Vivaldi Sleep, Labyrinths – feature music ranging from Bowie and Bach to Rameau and Radiohead, Frank Zappa to Manuel de Falla, have reached the Top 40 in the UK Classical Charts, been nominated for Gramophone awards, and generated over nine million audio streams on music platforms globally. These albums are supported by 7 themed digital concerts, innovatively filmed with staging and specialist lighting, with a contemporary audience in mind. Our latest mixtape album Echoes features 14 tracks including orchestral arrangements of songs by Frank Zappa, Adrian Utley, The Velvet Underground and A Winged Victory for the Sullen alongside classical standards by J.S. Bach, Delius, Max Richter, Philip Glass and Finzi, the album will be preceded by the release of four singles.

Music in the Community

Integral to the life of The Swan, is the music we bring to those living with dementia, PTSD, visual impairment and other conditions. It is moving to see the positive, transformational effect our players have on those who attend our regular dementia friendly Café Muse in Hereford, Stratford and Southam; to those in regional care homes that have reopened post covid; and to visually impaired pupils at Priestley Smith Specialist School in Perry Barr; while the players speak positively of the reward and specialist training they in turn receive.

Key partnerships include our new residency at the Warwick Schools Foundation with its superb range of music-making venues and facilities, enabling us to reach into the musical life of the entire county. We achieve this through cross generational concerts, mentoring, educational workshops and students playing side-by-side with orchestra members. Also key, is our new partnership with Sense Touchbase Pears in Birmingham, exploring how to bring the joys of music to people with complex disabilities, particularly the deafblind.

Nature and the environment

The urgent concern about climate change and the impact of the human race upon our physical world, has inspired new strands in our programming and educational outreach as embodied by our Earthcycle project. In partnership with the Stratford Literary Festival, we have created a series of podcasts featuring environmental journalist George Monbiot and audio producer and science writer Madeleine Finlay. In partnership with Escape Arts and Felicity Robinson of Landscapes Naturally, we are embedding the principles of the European Erasmus environmental project PAPPUS (Plants and Play Producing Universal Skills) in our work with schools through our Nurture Nature videos for primary schools.

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