A vibrant new community musical endeavour is coming to West Devon and hoping to attract singers and musicians of all ages.

If you play any instrument or if you love to sing this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Stand Sure Orchestra & Choirs are opening their doors in January 2024 and they’re looking for you!

The orchestra and choirs will be focusing on mostly contemporary music with strong rock and pop ties, though there will be some gentler ‘modern’ music too.

Chris J Anderson whose brainchild the project is said: “There are plenty of classical groups out there, but not many ‘rock orchestras/choirs’ and whilst we’re not solely doing rock we won’t be singing or playing anything in a traditional classical sense.”

Chris, who has over 30 years’ experience of playing in orchestras and being a musical director, said: “I used to be a professional musician going around venues singing and playing.

“My main instruments are piano, double bass, and voice — but I play many others too (for fun). I’m hoping to reach a wider demographic of players and audience by putting the modern emphasis in place.”

He set up his own music school in Hatherleigh this summer and is now welcoming anyone who has a passion and enthusiasm for making music with others to join the community project.

Anyone interested is advised to be around grade 5 (or equivalent) on their instrument but this is not mandatory — as long as members can read music, they can join and no audition is required.

People who want to give singing a go don’t need any experience of singing in a group – they just need to be keen.

Chris is looking for all the traditional orchestra instruments, but would also love guitarists, drummers, percussionists, saxophonists — in fact the orchestra will not turn anyone away: “A lot of orchestras and bands will only have a certain number of instruments per section.

“As a classically trained musician I totally get that, however, I believe the music should be for everyone to enjoy making. So, if I end up with four electric guitars, five flutes, seven clarinets and a triangle, they’ll be put to use! I’m able to write and orchestrate music for the musicians I have.”

Stand Sure Orchestra & Choirs began its life in Wiltshire where Chris fulfilled a near 30-year dream by starting his own orchestra and choir in 2021.

After playing and singing for groups most of his adult life Chris decided to seize the opportunity during lockdown to put the necessary plans in place to start.

A necessary relocation to Devon to be near his parents,when his dad became ill, meant that the group had to fold.

“It was heartbreaking. We were just gaining momentum and a good following. We had six really good concerts under our belts and there was so much more I wanted to do. Moving to Devon was never on the cards as I had some sort of a life established in Wiltshire, however, it just wasn’t practical to stay there any more so I’m getting a fresh start in beautiful Devon.”

He explained: “Music has been a huge part of my life pretty much since birth. When I was a baby, dad used to play music next to my crib — anything from Black Sabbath to Beethoven. I taught myself piano and my grandad taught me me on his electric organ.

“I got my first musical director job at 16. Even then I loved helping cast members find their musical gold and help them with their confidence in their performance.

“I started my own gospel choir and conducted the concert band and the orchestra. I loved doing it and decided one day I’d love to have my own orchestra and choir!

“Music is a universal language with no barriers at all. Every man, woman, child and even animal can get affected by it whether they understand it or not. Making music shouldn’t be limited to professionals or even professionally trained people and starting SSOCs was my way of creating an inclusive group.” Chris is inspired by the Dalai Lama, while Mozart is his musical hero: “Meeting and singing with composer John Rutter and being part of Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus were all amazing experiences.”

The choirs will be split into three groups, primary school age 7-11, secondary, 12-18 and adults 16+. Each group will work on their own songs as well as big group numbers and they’ll be performed at our termly concerts. The first concert in March will be hits from musical theatre, in Summer it’ll be The Beatles. In winter there will be a Halloween Spooktacular, and a Christmas Crackers concert. The orchestra will meet on a Sunday from 11am—1pm.

The choirs will meet on a Thursday from 5-6.30pm for primary; 6:30-8pm for secondary and 8pm to 10pm for adults. All meetings at the Hatherleigh Community Centre from Sunday, January 7 in the New Year. A termly fee is payable to cover all the necessary costs. Chris and the orchestras and choirs would love to hear from anyone of so please do register your interest or ask any questions by emailing [email protected] or find them on Facebook @standsureorchestra.