United Nations Orchestra makes its UK debut at Brighton Dome


Conductor and artistic director of the United Nations Orchestra Antoine Marguier spoke to The Argus reporter Josh Walton about their forthcoming concert.

Musicians from over 20 countries will take a break from international diplomacy to play together as an orchestra in the UK for the first time.

Employees working for the United Nations in Geneva will fly to the UK to perform a concert at the Brighton Dome in aid of UNICEF’s war orphans relief programme.

The concert will showcase non-professional musicians who will be led by a professional conductor as they come together for this charity fundraiser.

Anne-Marie Magnan, a nuclear research physicist at CERN, and violinist, is one of 60 gifted musicians who will be performing with the United Nations Orchestra, at its UK debut on Saturday, July 1.

The orchestra is conducted by Antoine Marguier, while internationally acclaimed pianist Freddy Kempf, and award-winning tuba player Ben Thomson, who is a principal with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, will be the soloists.

Marguier said that since the orchestra was founded in 2011, more than 200,000 Swiss Francs has been raised for various charities and causes.

“We musicians are very motivated and even though they are not professional musicians, they have still got great passion for music despite choosing other career paths,” says the co-founder, conductor and artistic director of the orchestra.

“They strive for excellence and the opportunity they get to play at the big venues we do is really great.

“Most of us are able to communicate in German or English and although we have a mixture of languages and cultures in the orchestra we work well together and really embody the spirit of the UN.

“Some of the members used to study music when they were younger and we also have a member who gained a PhD and is now working at CERN, so a real mix of people from different backgrounds and professions.

“In Geneva we have a huge hall to use and our concerts are normally very popular.

“We share the values of the UN and have played all over the world together, so we are very much looking forward to playing in the UK for the first time.”

The orchestra’s ranks include a head of medical research, a project management engineer and a chief of disaster risk reduction.

Seven Sussex musicians will be joining the United Nations Orchestra for the Brighton date.

They include harpist Heather Wrighton, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, trumpet player Andrew Baxter, and viola player Amy Jeffery, a science graduate working in the pharmaceutical industry.

The United Nations Orchestra, whose members will be staying on the University of Sussex Falmer campus, always performs for a humanitarian cause.

Freddy Kempf will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21, and for the second half of the programme the orchestra has chosen to pay a moving tribute to the great English orchestral heritage, with works by Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Delius ending with Elgar’s most famous composition, Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, otherwise known as Land of Hope and Glory.

This article has been re-published courtesy of The Argus

The United Nations Orchestra performs at Brighton Dome on Sat 1 July.