Monday 11 April 2022

The Third Orchestra: how Peter Wiegold and Club Inégales are creating an orchestra with a diverse and inclusive approach that is embedded in the very musical practices.

Peter Wiegold and The Third Orchestra
Peter Wiegold and The Third Orchestra

Pre-pandemic, one of the highlights of the season would be going to a small basement club near Euston Station when Club Inégales, led by Peter Wiegold, took place. There, the resident ensemble Notes Inégales would be joined by a guest artist or two - there would be Indian food, drink and music of an undefinable kind. The line up of Notes Inégales was flexible, it might include one or two Japanese musicians, perhaps and tabla player, perhaps someone Scandinavian along with classically trained musicians and those who came from a jazz background. All were intellectually and musically curious, and would make music together in a semi-improvisatory fashion.

Even before lockdown, Peter and Club Inégales had decided to expand the concept and create The Third Orchestra which had a spectacular residency at the Barbican. Now, they have launched The Third Foundation to support the orchestra, with a Crowd Funding page and a launch concert at Grand Junction on 5 May 2022.

So, what is The Third Orchestra. Well, it will be "an inclusive, multi-cultural orchestra which sets out to dissolve boundaries between cultures and build acoustic bridges between style and genre. With a unique methodology, the sound of the orchestra is shaped by each musicians' vibrant background, embodying a futuristic step within contemporary music and live performance." Now, that statement (from the Crowd Funding page) has an element of airy-fairy media-speak about it, except that I know from personal experience that Peter and his musicians can produce truly remarkable, vibrant, genre-bending music.

There are other admirable things about the orchestra too, it is gender balanced, 50% Black, Asian and ethnically diverse, with members aged 20-72. Perhaps most importantly, the diversity extends to the genres as well. We are not talking about ethnically diverse classical musicians, but those from a variety of cultural/musical backgrounds.  Peter says of their approach "I like the think that we have a diverse and inclusive approach that is embedded, not just in our membership, but in the very musical practices – which allow for the chemistry of difference, as much as ‘fusion’."

This means that they mix all kinds of personal and lineage experiences. A classical violinist also is involved in collaborations with Norwegian folk musicians (Max Baillie) or an Indian musician who started with a traditional tabla upbringing now with a drum and bass duo and writing for traditional brass band! (Shri Sriram).

In the present world with its fractured politics and divergent cultures, such examples are important. The day after they made the video on the Crowd Funder page, the life of Alina, the ensemble's harpist changed radically. She is from the Ukraine and has elderly parents there, and relatives who are taking part in the fighting. 

You can support The Third Foundation via its Crowd Funder page (but hurry, there are just two days left), and further details of their concert from the Grand Junction webpage.

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