This Saturday, 8 September, Richard Hawley performs a selection of tracks from across his career with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the Magna Centre in Rotherham as part of the BBC Philharmonic presents series. The show will be broadcast live on BBC 6 Music from 7pm.

The set has been specially orchestrated for the event by Joe Duddell, whose previous work includes a tour with James and The Orchestra of the Swan, two performances with Elbow and the Hallé Orchestra for MIF and a collaboration with Nero and the BBC Philharmonic.

Louder Than War spoke to Joe to find out more about the project and how it came about.

“When the BBC Philharmonic moved to their new home last year, Richard Wigley, their general manager, had this idea to do a show for each of the main radio stations to showcase the diversity of what the orchestra get up to.

“They hooked up with Radio 1 to do the Nero thing, and because I’d worked with the Philharmonic before with the James thing (2009 Manchester vs Cancer), I got asked if I was interested. That collaboration was really successful, it brought in a whole new audience for the orchestra and gave dubstep fans a live experience of classical music on a level they could identify with.

“Richard thought he’d do the same thing again and he asked me if I’d be interested in doing one and so a few possibilities came up before he asked me if I wanted to do Richard Hawley for 6Music and I said yes.

“Then it was down to me meeting Richard and Colin Elliot, his bass player, just to check we got on and we were on the same wavelength. We did a workshop about a month ago and we regroup next week for a couple of days before the show to finalise everything ahead of Saturday.”

On the subject of choosing songs Joe added: “It’s been a joint selection really, we fleshed out a few ideas, like doing a retrospective of his career.

“Richard wanted to highlight how his albums had got darker and louder as they’ve gone on, so it’s not quite chronological and there’s a couple of albums that aren’t represented, because we only have an hour and a half set and it’s not long enough to do them all justice. The list was three times longer than what we could actually play.

“As with the James tour, there’s too many and you have to leave a few out. We’ll do a few that Richard hasn’t done for a while and a few from the new album that he hasn’t played live already, because they hadn’t quite worked and we’ll see if we can make them work with an orchestra.

“But like Elbow’s stuff in a way, a lot of Richard’s songs have been quite expertly orchestrated by Colin already, he’s done some lovely stuff, but they haven’t been done in a large orchestral context as they only had six or eight strings when they recorded them and they had to record them several times to make it sound like an orchestra.

“I haven’t really messed with what Colin’s done already as I really rate him as an arranger and I love what he’s done. In many ways, what I’ve done is amplify it.”

Richard’s latest album, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, has a lot more guitar than previous offerings and Joe recognises this will be a challenge. “Richard has always said he’s never had the money to get an orchestra so he decides to do a guitar album and then he gets an orchestra to work with. The irony of that was not lost on him. There’s lots of power chords on there which lend themselves to brass.”

The concert is being broadcast live on BBC6 music as part of a season of live music.

John Pearson, executive producer, explains the fit with the station’s live music ethos: “Live music is at the very heart of what 6 Music does. It gives listeners a novel and intimate way to experience familiar music, and introduces them to new music in an engaging and exciting way.

“It also allows artists to experience their own music in new ways. Playing live in the intimate environment of a radio studio often requires artists to adjust their line-up, and consequently to reassess their musical arrangements. This often results in the live versions of songs sounding and feeling very different to their studio counterparts.

“The same opportunities arise when you move an artist into a bigger environment, as we are doing here. Having Richard, Joe and the BBC Philharmonic working with 6 Music on this project offers the opportunity for extraordinary talent from diverse musical areas to combine to create something truly remarkable.

“This performance will offer both classical and contemporary music fans an inimitable musical experience.”

Other concerts in the BBC Philharmonic Presents concerts include:

  • Radio 1 ”“ The XX Symphony – 19 Sep, Bridlington
  • Radio 2 ”“ In Concert (artist yet to be announced) ”“ 6 Dec, BBC Media City Salford
  • Radio 3 ”“ Miles Symphonic ”“ 17 Oct, Blackpool
  • Radio 4 ”“ The Listening Project ”“ 14 Dec, BBC Media City Salford
  • Radio 5 live ”“ James Bond Special ”“ 14 Sep, BBC Media City Salford
  • BBC Asian Network ”“ 12 Nov, Bradford

Interview by David Brown. You can read more from David on LTW here. 

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