A GROUP of renowned musicians from across the south west have joined forces to create a new touring orchestra, The Chamber Orchestra of the West. 

The ensemble, made up of 11 musicians and led by Luccombe-based artistic director Jacqueline Shave, is aiming to bring high-quality orchestral music to communities across the region.

The professional string ensemble will perform for local community organisations and schools in well-known concert halls and smaller venues, unconventional performance spaces, and less-visited parts of the south west. 

The group also aims to create and sustain relationships with communities, allowing a diverse range of people - including those marginanised both socially and geographically - to interact with live orchestral music. 

To begin with, the orchestra will focus on community groups around Minehead, Yeovil, Taunton and Dulverton, including planned concerts at Yeovil Youth Club, The Hope Centre in Minehead and various pop-ups in conjunction with Love Yeovil.

The orchestra's first concerts will be held at Wiveliscombe St Andrew’s Church (December 1) and at Minehead Regal Theatre (December 4).

These will be accompanied by community pop-up performances from November 30. 

The orchestra is currently fundraising to begin its pilot project as planned. 

If sufficient funding is secured, the orchestra will aim to expand into Devon and Cornwall next year. 

Ensemble leader Jacqueline, who also leads and directs Britten Symphonia, said: "We are looking to the future and feel we have something very special to offer a rapidly-changing world in which the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of community groups as activity providers and social lifelines for many.

"Our little orchestra is for the whole community, putting music back at the heart of community interaction, with so much more to offer than just concerts. 

"We’ll be going into schools, hospitals and care homes and will also be playing for the amazing doctors and nurses at Musgrove.  

"We will also be working with Syrian refugee families and planning exciting things with them such as creating new pieces of music with an oud player from their community in Taunton." 

To donate to the orchestra's fundraiser, visit: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/chamber-orchestra-of-the-west-pilot-project

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.chamberorchestraofthewest.co.uk