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Modern melodies and old classics astound at Corobrik-sponsored Orchestra from Scratch

The audience at the 9th edition of Orchestra from Scratch was enthralled by the vibrant musical display put on by 152 amateur musicians who performed under highly-acclaimed conductor, Richard Cock, at The Scott Gym, Wits Education Campus on Sunday, 26 January. Forming part of the opening weekend of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival, the Corobrik-sponsored Orchestra from Scratch gives amateur musicians a platform to perform, many of whom have never played in an orchestra before.
“This was another superbly-organised evening of wonderful music, and we extend our congratulations to all involved,” said Corobrik’s Musa Shangase. “As a truly holistic company, Corobrik shows support across a number of socio-economic sectors, and we consider the support of this annual event an important contribution to cultural development within the country.”
This annual event welcomes all Grade 3 level musicians with this year’s performers ranging in age from seven to 87. The music selection is sent through and they’re encouraged to practice as often as possible in the lead-up to the performance. This year’s performance had a range of musical numbers suited to differing tastes, from the Game of Thrones theme tune and Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ to ‘76 Trombones’ and ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
Richard Cock - who was assisted by his wife, Sue, in conducting the programme - said Orchestra from Scratch is a wonderful experience for both the musicians and the audience: “This is an outlet for people who haven’t had an opportunity to play in an orchestra, either because there are no spaces available, or because they haven’t quite reached the level required by existing orchestras.”
He said that people are excited to experience the thrill of playing in a large ensemble: “Many of the musicians have never played in an orchestra before, and certainly will not have played the sort of music we play.”
This makes the event challenging, not only for the musicians, but for the conductors who have to hold together a diversely-talented group of people: “To be frank, every year is like a miracle. It’s incredible how a group which has never performed before can put on a concert after very limited rehearsal time. The look of pride on the players’ faces is always a highlight for me.”
One flautist, Brigette Blaeser (Mondeor, Johannesburg South), has performed in Orchestra from Scratch since its inception. She said the concert got her back into playing the flute and has always been a highlight for her family every year.
“I enjoyed the first event so much that I was back the following year and met someone with whom I play flute duets now almost every week,” explained Blaeser. “My family always come along to enjoy the performance and both my daughters invite their friends to come and listen.  It's such fun every year and I really appreciate the sponsors, Richard and Sue Cock, and everyone else working behind the scenes who make this wonderful event happen.”

Conductor, Richard Cock, at the Corobrik-sponsored Orchestra from Scratch with two of his musicians - Miles Cox (11) and Angela Barker (77). Miles and Angela were the youngest and oldest players at this year’s annual event, which was held at The Scott Gym, Wits Education Campus on Sunday, 26 January.