Sinfonia Smith Square’s #ConcertLab series explores innovative new approaches to the presentation of orchestral music.

Whilst we still share music in many ‘traditional’ concerts over each season, #ConcertLab provides opportunities for experimentation and collaboration across genres and media, along with chances to re-think how we use performance spaces to engage with audiences. So far this year, we have undertaken two #ConcertLab projects: in The Collectors, we enlisted the support of world-renowned English folk musicians Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron to prepare a programme of folk-inspired orchestral music and original folk arrangements for mixed chamber ensembles; in The Night Sky, Smith Square Hall was turned into a planetarium, with audience members dispersed amongst the orchestra as they gazed at ceiling projections during a programme of music inspired by the cosmos. Both were very challenging and rewarding artistic experiences for the members of the orchestra. The Collectors pushed many of us – myself definitely included! – out of our comfort zones, providing an opportunity to dive head-first into unfamiliar styles of rehearsing and performing. However, we ended up with a set of varied original arrangements that we were excited to present, and we definitely widened our creative toolkits as musicians along the way. In The Night Sky, we had to work with timed audiovisual material and perform at much greater distances from each other to normal, but this all contributed to a uniquely immersive experience for the audience (and players!) that I particularly enjoyed. We continue in that spirit of immersive music-making with House of Music, which will see Smith Square Hall transformed into an enormous salon for a diverse and century-hopping programme of chamber music.