A preview of the Lost and Found Orchestra, shot at the Casino de Paris
The Lost and Found Orchestra had its last outing for shows in France and Moscow in 2016. Catch up with all the action from back then and future news at our Facebook page .
By Steve McNicholas posted Dec 03, 2015
AFTER THE GLOBAL SUCCESS of their unique take on rhythm and physical theatre, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas have taken the STOMP concept to a new level: where STOMP creates rhythm with everyday objects, The Lost and Found Orchestra transforms everyday objects into a plethora of invented instruments. LFO recreates every section of a symphony orchestra, using musical saws, bottles, whirly toys and traffic cones. Out of chaos is formed an orchestra...
Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas were approached by the Brighton Festival commissioning a new work for their 40th anniversary. In only 6 months, instruments had to be invented and reinvented from scratch, and an entire score composed. With the help of a crew made up of experienced STOMP personnel, and expert instrument designer Paul Marshall advising, and with UK musicians who were prepared to abandon their instruments and learn how to play saws and hosepipes, LFO premiered in May 2006.
Since then LFO has broken box office records at Sydney Opera House and played extended runs at London's Royal Festival Hall, Amsterdam's Carre theatre and the Casino de Paris.
The show was reworked for 2012's return visits to Amsterdam and Brighton with a dazzling array of homemade instruments, a mix of veteran STOMP performers, classical musicians, physical comedians and aerialists, LFO's performance climaxes with the human voice being added to the mix: what begins with simple melodies plucked, blown, thumped and brushed into life, ends in a complex symphonic and choral celebration...
A very brief introduction to the LFO story: from the streets of Britain, to STOMP on the world stage, to the LOST AND FOUND ORCHESTRA in the world's concert halls...
Creating instruments for the Lost and Found Orchestra is a little like reinventing the wheel: we have been recreating problems that were solved centuries ago by instrument designers. For example, we find it more interesting to have eight people playing a single melody by sharing the notes (using instruments capable of producing only one note at a time) rather than creating a more sophisticated multi-toned instrument. We see this as STOMP’s take on campanology, which is inherently much more theatrical than giving a solo instrumentalist centre stage.
Orchestral instruments use several different approaches to sound-making that can be described using the ‘Sachs–Hornbostel’ system, which categorises instruments according to the initial source of vibration in each instrument: it could be wind, string, skin, wood, metal...
A few examples of Lost and Found instruments follow...
Instruments in which the vibrating element is the object itself: IDIOPHONES
It would not have been possible to have created the LFO without using musical saws. These are standard, off-the-shelf saws that have had the teeth edges removed for safety. They give a beautiful, other-worldly sound, with shifting resonances and pitches.
Instruments in which the vibrating element is the air itself are AEROPHONES
Squonkaphones (right) are instruments anyone can make and play: using balloons stretched taught over the end of a plastic tube...
Hosaphones (below) are just garden hoses with a funnel and a brass instrument mouthpiece: they can sound like french horns and trumpets in the the right hands...
Instruments in which the vibrating element is a membrane are MEMBRANOPHONES
These were almost the first instruments to be constructed: tympani immediately give a piece of music an orchestral sound!
The bodies are made from aluminium industrial soup cauldrons that are about one metre in diameter. We decided we would not use traditional or contemporary drum-heading materials but Kevlar sailcloth. We rely on the African two-ring method to keep the skins in place and the tuning mechanism comes from fence turnbuckles. These are loud instruments, capable of fine-tuning to specific notes though they can be somewhat temperamental...
Instruments in which the vibrating element is the air itself are AEROPHONES.
Based on the age-old method of blowing over the edge of the bottle, the bottle bellows are single-tone instruments tuned to a consistent note by using epoxy resin, or water, to maintain a fixed volume of air. The bottles are cradled in cyclists’ drinks holders and are fixed in relation to a shaped airflow by being bolted to a welded frame. The upper octave uses soy-sauce bottles in a bespoke frame attached to smaller bellows, but the principle remains identical.
Other aerophones in the show include kid's "whirly toys" and single note whistles...
Invented by Sascha Reckert (who performed with the LFO in Brighton and London), this is another IDIOPHONE, which works on the same principle as musical wine glasses. Here the glasses are replaced by glass tubes of varying lengths. Sascha created it in order to be able to perform the parts written by Mozart for the glass harmonica (said to be his favourite instrument).
Everyone must have tuned bottles by controlling the amount of liquid inside them. Perhaps they blew across the top of them (a la BOTTLEBELLOWS above) or perhaps they played them with a spoon or a chopstick? This instrument consists of an array of tuned bottles, played percussively. Evaporation is their greatest enemy.
Turning to Wikipedia for this one: "Cuíca, or "kuweeca", is a Brazilian friction drum with a large pitch range, produced by changing tension on the head of the drum... It is most often used in samba music. The tone it produces has a high-pitched squeaky timbre. It has been called a 'laughing gourd' due to this sound. Many also claim that the cuica has a "monkey" sound."
OK, but this is a GIANT cuica, made using exactly the same principle, but on a grander scale, with 45 gallon metal and plastic drums and plastic rods, atop a shopping trolley for mobility. The sound is definitely not 'high pitched' or 'squeaky', more of a roar...
Chords! A group of three or more notes combined, played together or sequentially (arpeggio) create a chord. It can be pleasing, harmonious, or not: it's the fact that notes are grouped makes them a chord. Few instruments strike chords in normal usage. The drone strings of a sitar? A guitar in a special tuning, strummed without fingering? The chord buttons on an accordion? We wanted to create our own chord machine: hence the chord churns. They are a group of copper rods tuned to different chords (major or minor) and held in a frame so that they can be played with a drumstick in a churning motion. Bonus is they sound a little like clinking milk bottles...
Possibly one of the most energetic conductors you will ever see, Luke Cresswell is a self-taught percussionist from Brighton, UK. His session work as a drummer and rhythm programmer includes Beats International, Bette Midler, Elvis Costello and Bryan Ferry. After working for several years as a street musician and performer, he first created STOMP in 1991. He has directed, with Stomp co-creator, Steve McNicholas, several award-winning commercials and short films. He received an Oscar nomination for the film BROOMS, an Emmy nomination for STOMP OUT LOUD and co-directed the award winning Imax movies, PULSE , Wild Ocean 3D and Great White Shark 3D. He has also received a special achievement award from the Chicago Human Rhythm Project.
Whilst his creative partner likes to stay behind the scenes, Luke takes centre stage with the Lost and Found Orchestra...
THE FINANCIAL TIMES:
What hit me hardest is its sheer poetry. But nobody could miss the entertainment value here, and its world premiere on Saturday night was greeted with a full-throated ovation. Stomp is Brighton’s brightest offspring. ★★★★★
THE INDEPENDENT (on Brighton Festival):
a celebration of energy, rhythm and inventiveness....As a sprawling, exhilarating festival event... it's already unmissable.
THE INDEPENDENT (on Royal Festival Hall):
Put this troupe in white tie and tails and present them as avant-gardists, and they'd be the intellectual toast of the town. Thankfully, they're a raggle-taggle bunch, and at the end of this unforgettable evening, the audience just doesn't want to let them go.
You might be reminded of Philip Glass and Michael Nyman, of early Art of Noise, Tom Waits or even Björk at her most bonkers. Lost and Found Orchestra is its own thing, though. It might be all sound and energetic frenzy, signifying little, but it's the opposite of rubbish - and, after such a triumphant try-out, we haven't heard the last of it.
Stupendous, is the best word to describe the opening concert of the Brighton Festival.... Cresswell participates as well as conducts the ensemble, ending with a tremendous climax which had a packed concert hall on its feet... a sheer delight.
It is exhilarating and strangely beautiful... unpretentious, infectious and great fun.
present THE LOST AND FOUND ORCHESTRA
Created & Directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas