The RNCM Session Orchestra returns under the baton of Robert Ames, with an electrifying programme spanning everything from meditative electronica to maximalist pop via soul-stirring indie.
Committed to flexing the boundaries of orchestral music, internationally renowned conductor Robert Ames has collaborated with a broad swathe of popular artists, bringing his unique vision to projects with Little Simz, Frank Ocean, Sigur Rós and many other household names. Here, he works with the RNCM Session Orchestra to offer fresh perspectives on tracks by those same artists, and many more besides.
While the setlist – which we’ve had a sneak peek at – spans many genres, it’s unified in the way that every artist features somehow breaks the mould. Whether it’s Kelly Lee Owens and her spiritual take on electronica, Radiohead and their restless quest for the ‘new’, or Self Esteem and her rallying cry for more self-love and less normalised misogyny, it’s a rule-breakers-only kind of affair.
And that includes Robert Ames himself, who revels in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the concert hall. He holds the positions of co-artistic director and co-principal conductor of the London Contemporary Orchestra, one of the UK’s most innovative and respected ensembles (who, in March, will be collaborating with The Smile for Manchester’s BBC 6 Music Festival). We’re fascinated to see what magic he can work with RNCM’s fantastic, 40-piece Session Orchestra, which encompasses a rhythm section, strings, horns, percussion and vocalists.
The Orchestra take to the stage at 8pm, but head down for 7pm to catch the support. This comes in the form of Turtle Park – a grunge pop band who cut their teeth on the Pittsburgh scene before moving to Manchester to study at the RNCM, while self-producing a string of earworm singles which take cues from everyone from Green Day to Nirvana.