Clean Bandit to join BBC Philharmonic orchestra for Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show

Jess Glynne will also join the band for the live broadcast

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The Independent Culture

A line up of five lead vocalists will join electronic group Clean Bandit and the 70-strong BBC Philharmonic orchestra in a ground-breaking live BBC Radio 1 broadcast tomorrow evening.

Four female vocalists - Jess Glynne, Rae Morris, Nicole Marshall and Eliza Shaddad - and rapper Love Ssega (Ssegawa Kiwanuka) will join Clean Bandit as a dozen of the group’s songs are woven into a 45-minute “symphony” in three movements, broadcast from the orchestra’s studios at Media City, Salford.

Two members of Clean Bandit – cellist Grace Chatto and violinist Neil Amin-Smith – are classically-trained and played together in the Royal Academy of Music orchestra. Ms Chatto told The Independent that she hoped the project – in which Clean Bandit’s use of synthesizers will be replicated by the sounds of orchestral instruments - would encourage the group’s fans to think about “the potential of acoustic instruments and electronic music” and encourage younger people to listen to orchestras.

“We have always thought there shouldn’t be any barriers for anyone between different types of music and we have always loved dance music, pop music, reggae, garage and classical music,” she said. “I hope that maybe if there are people who only want one kind of music this will help broaden those people’s perceptions.”

Clean Bandit, who topped the UK singles chart this year with “Rather Be”, will perform live with the BBC Phil from the orchestra’s studios at Media City in Salford and, shortly afterwards, head off on an American tour. Chatto, Amin-Smith and bass guitarist/keyboardist Jack Patterson met while students at Cambridge University.

“I hope to do a lot more collaborations with classical musicians and other orchestras and chamber musicians around the world,” said Ms Chatto, who said she had ambitions to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic and at the Lewes Chamber Music Festival.

Simon Webb, general manager of the BBC Philharmonic, which I staging a series of concerts on BBC networks, said Radio 1 had chosen to broadcast a piece with Clean Bandit because “they could see their career trajectory and felt that they would be one of the highest profile bands at this time of the year”.

George Ergatoudis, Head of Music for Radio 1 & 1Xtra, said: “Our young target audience might not spend a lot of time listening to classical music, but they appreciate the drama, excitement and power of a huge live orchestra. Clean Bandit seemed like the perfect act to work with as two members of the band have classical training and they’re widely known for their distinctive mash-up of classical and contemporary music.”

The performance, which will include a choir, will be broadcast on the Zane Lowe show. The New Zealand-born presenter has been a champion of Clean Bandit, twice selecting the group’s singles in his “Hottest Record in the World” feature. Another Radio 1 presenter, Huw Stephens, was partly responsible for bringing the band to public attention after Chatto sent him a link to the song “Mozart’s House”. “He was probably the reason we got to speak to any record labels,” she said.

The BBC Philharmonic Presents piece is being arranged by composer Joe Duddell, who has worked on previous BBC Phil collaborations, including a piece with Richard Hawley for BBC 6 Music and a “Dubstep Symphony” with Nero for Radio 1, where a drum machine and samples were recorded alongside the sounds of the orchestra. “This is more challenging because you want to transform everything into orchestral instruments,” he said. “One of the desires of Clean Bandit was to have no synth content whatsoever.”

Ms Chatto said the synth line in hit single “A&E” would be performed by the orchestra’s full lower string section of cellos and basses. A violin line in single “Dust Clears” will also be replaced by an entire string section.

Mr Duddell – who said Clean Bandit were “very musical and know what works” -  hoped the collaboration could be included on future reissues of the band’s debut album “New Eyes” and that the orchestral collaboration could be introduced to the group’s growing international fan base.

But he said the project was especially important for the future of orchestral music. “It’s more about bringing a new audience to an orchestra rather than introducing Clean Bandit to the orchestra’s existing audience – that’s why it is going out on the Zane Lowe show rather than the Late Night Show on Radio 3.”

The BBC Phil and other orchestras were anxious to demonstrate their versatility, he said. “They are aware that what they have got is an ageing audience.”

Mr Webb said that it was important that it was an equal partnership between pop and classical. “We are really wary of ending up as a backing band so we make sure it’s a proper collaboration where you will hear the orchestra in full swing.”

The BBC Philharmonic Presents series also includes Culture Club revisiting their debut album Colour By Numbers for a broadcast on 27 September on BBC Radio 2.