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Brixton Chamber Orchestra hitting the right notes

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A chamber orchestra in Brixton? For Brixton? From Brixton? Well, yes. It really is as uplifting a story as you might expect. A year or so ago Matthew O’Keefe created an ensemble that played a few "speculative concerts" –  and he, and his collective of performers, hasn't looked back.

Indeed, it is only forward thinking for Matthew and his musicians within the Brixton Chamber Orchestra (BCO). They have been met with a hugely positive response and are now busy filling the diary with concert dates.

As Matthew explains: "I grew up and have been in Brixton for some time now and thought, 'I know enough professional musicians' and we had some auditions as well, and here we are. Now we have a whole list of concerts and it's all very exciting.

"It's always good to get classical music to new events and in front of new audiences and to have that appeal you need a variation in programming. We want to do covers of whatever we fancy at the time. There is always room for crossover, but without the 'cringiness'."

That crossover renditions, arranged by Matthew for the orchestra, embrace many different genres and artists and the variety was evident as both classical and adapted modern pieces, including Bach and Haydn, Frank Sinatra and Justin Timberlake, were played at a recent concert.

It had been organised to support the campaign to halt the threatened demolition of Cressingham Gardens. To illustrate just how varied the play list, you only have to learn that there was even a rendition of Des’ree’s Kissing You, sung by Megan McArthur.

Matthew says a huge debt of gratitude is owed to Brixton BID (business improvement district), adding: "They need a big shout out because they have been ever so helpful as we progress."

That progression has seen the BCO perform recently at a lunchtime concert on Electric Avenue, and they are set for a concert of Brahms Requiem and Elgar Cello Concerto in the St Michael's Arts Festival (Stockwell) on 6th October.

Thereafter, the BCO then we're doing a collaboration with the Brixton Gospel Choir at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Santley Street, on November 17th.

And if you don't manage to catch the BCO before the Christmas festivities begin, you'll have plenty of chance then, according to Matthew. He adds: "There will be some Xmas music nights in and around a few Brixton pubs, please feel free to come along as check us out!"

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