Threads Orchestra

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18/10/12 PAVE Hull

19/10/12 Hull University

“We don’t often mention the words string ensemble, improvisation and tango in the same breath, so it was particularly refreshing to come across the work of Threads two years ago. Our young string players have been crying out for something which gives them some ‘street cred’, and
this workshop delivered it in spade loads. All our youngsters were apprehensive at the idea of working outside the comfort zone of notation but all threw themselves into the workshop bolstered by the encouraging manner and spell binding musical examples of the players in the group. Threads were generous with their time and talent, sharing their arrangements of Libertango with us and performing sever
al items from their current repertoire at the final ‘sharing’ event. The musicianship was of a very high order and the pupil feedback bore out the inspirational nature of the workshop. I look forward to being able to work with them again at a future date.”

N. Meredith

Director of Music Wakefield Girls’ High School


The Threads Orchestra can offer EDUCATION Projects for schools and youth orchestras involving any type of instrumental ensemble including symphony orchestra, chamber orchestra, jazz band, swing band etc. Rus Pearson (Bass) is Animateur at Wigmore Hall and Julian Gregory (Violin) is a member of the BBC Philharmonic and is involved in the education programmes.

Pieces we have used in the past are arranged specially for all standards from Grade 1 to advanced level. Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’ works particularly well  (see video) and incorporates improvisation passages for the students. We will also arrange pieces from the syllabus for performance with the band and ensembles. Members in the band have arranged for ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and many other ensembles.


A typical day will run from lunchtime, usually splitting the band into a rhythm section and more ‘classical’ string section to work with different groups. A full rehearsal after hours will culminate in a ‘twilight concert’ for parents.


  1. To hear and perform relevant music from the syllabus

  2. To experiment with extended instrumental techniques

  3. To be introduced to and develop free improvisation

  4. To be exposed to different styles of music and music making

  5. To involve your students as much as possible in improvisation sessions and workshops.

  6. To inject freedom into their music making using a wide variety styles

The group also runs COMPOSITION workshops for schools and universities, particularly PhD level. We work well with cross-discipline pieces as all members improvise. Past workshops have included York University, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School and Bradford University.

Threads have also commissioned a number of works from composers including Phil Alexander (Moishe’s Bagel), Trish Clowes, and Jonathan Brigg (PhD York Unversity):

“Writing for Threads changed the way I think about music...Each member of the Orchestra offers something unique. When they combine their impressive talents in the fields of Jazz, Folk, Classical and avant-garde music, the sound is brand-new, and the energy is breathtaking...' Jonathan Brigg - PhD student, York University


A typical day will run from 10am through to around 5pm. This will include workshops on individual compositions (minimum of 45min per piece), and a seminar (at university level) to discuss various aspects of the day. We will also try to programme a local concert in the evening for students to attend.

This is an opportunity for your students to:

  1. Have a deadline for submission of a work pre workshop date to allow it to be rehearsed in preparation for the workshop/s and performance.

  2. To experiment with the merging of composition and improvisation methods

  3. To be able to cope under pressure ‘with on the spot’ decision making

  4. Experiment and explore extended technique on a one to one and group basis.

  5. To gain insight into the performance difficulties and how they might be overcome or re-written

  6. See and hear the possibilities of the interpretation by the performers

  7. Where possible, have their work played regularly by the Threads Orchestra

Listen to our concert from our last workshop at York University:


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