Three Questions: the Orbi Playa Big Band

April 23, 2013

Ahead of the band’s appearance playing at Whitefriars on Saturday 11 May, I put Three Questions to director of the band, Mike Hamnett.

Tell us about your ensemble

MH: The band was formed in September last year from former members of the Canterbury Christ Church University Big Band. A core group were graduating together and wanted to carry on playing big band music. I had recently left the university to become the percussion supervisor on the UK Touring production of Disney’s The Lion King, and agreed to help the band in any way that I could which has turned out to be in a playing/directing role along with saxophonist Danny Glavin. Whilst at the university. I attempted to broaden the students’ big band experience – too many people think “big band” and hear “Glenn Miller”. I introduced music from the 1920s through to contemporary charts written by Maria Schneider, Andy Shepperd and Andy Scott. We regularly appeared at the National Concert Band Festival where we achieved three Gold Awards and appeared at the NCBF National Event in 2012 at the Royal Academy of Music where our programme was described by the adjudicators as “adventurous and committed”.

As the newly-formed Orbi Playa Big Band (so named after the apartments that housed us on our 2012 tour to Spain) we achieved an unprecedented double, being awarded the covetted Platinum award not only at the regional event in Southampton but also at the National event held this year in the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham. Continue reading