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Philharmonia and BT tap into MySpace phenomenon to find new musical talent


15 January, 2007

The Philharmonia Orchestra and BT have announced the winners of their unique Groove Search competition, which used the MySpace web phenomenon to search for new musical talent. Twenty winners, ranging in age from eight to 43 years old, will have their “grooves” recorded by the Orchestra at Abbey Road studios on 19 January.

The Groove Search competition invited members of the public, whether amateur musicians or musical novices, to submit 30 seconds of original music in any genre to the Orchestra. Entries could be written down, played on an instrument, whistled or even hummed. The competition, a partnership between BT and The Philharmonia, was judged by a panel that included urban artist Nate James and Mercury Music Prize nominee jazz pianist Zoe Rahman.

Entries were received from four continents and winners from North America and Australasia will be travelling to Abbey Road, London for the recording session on 19 January. They range from two eight-year-old girls from Suffolk, who wrote their “groove” after reading a children’s book called Qpootle5, to the writer for a Leicester based group called ButterflyPolite who perform “slightly left of centre pop”.

One of the winners in the youngest age category Callum Stewart, aged 11 from York, said: “My dad saw the competition on the internet and asked if I wanted to have a go. A few weeks earlier I asked mum if she thought I should have a go at writing music. She said go for it, you’ve nothing to lose. So I did. The piece I sent was my first ever attempt. So winning was a real shock but fantastic. The groove is a great idea as it includes everyone and excludes no-one.” A keen saxophonist, Callum is the youngest holder of a buskers’ licence in the UK.

Another winner, Stephen Lindsay, a 43-year old musician based near Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in Australia, said: “The groove search competition is a fantastic opportunity for all musicians working across all genres, and it is wonderful to see a world-class outfit like the Philharmonia Orchestra being so open-minded in their search for new music. To get to attend a recording session in Studio 2 at Abbey Road is just a dream come true for this boy from Oz – I would have swum from Sydney to be here if I couldn’t have got on a flight!” Stephen has been composing music part-time for over 20 years, working out of a home-based recording studio and collaborating with artists and songwriters in both the UK and USA.

The winning grooves will be recorded by 47 members of the Philharmonia Orchestra and will be published on MySpace and the Philharmonia’s interactive music website The Sound Exchange ( They will form the basis of the content for the Philharmonia and BT’s new Sample Sequencer, a new, free online composing tool to be launched later this year, which will enable users of any ability to compose, record and play music using Philharmonia sounds – from individual instruments through to the entire orchestra.

By helping to create this initiative, BT has further demonstrated its commitment to making the arts more accessible via online partnerships with leading arts organisations.

Paul Simon, head of sponsorship at BT, said: “The Philharmonia Orchestra and BT have established a long term relationship which focuses on making the music and expertise of the world renowned Philharmonia Orchestra more widely accessible – whether purely for musical enjoyment or for personal development. Thanks to our Groove Search competition, 20 members of the public will get the chance to have their music professionally arranged, recorded and performed by this world famous orchestra.”


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