Nu Civilisation Orchestra is earning a reputation as a shapeshifting, cutting edge ensemble. Refusing to be bound by genre or scale, it metamorphoses into a new format as each new project is unveiled. Founded in 2008 by Artistic Director, Gary Crosby OBE and led by musical director, Peter Edwards, NCO presents audiences with stories worthy of great soundtracks, expanding musical scores with contributions from the world of visual arts, film, dance and literature.
Since inception, the Orchestra has presented an eclectic body of work including the likes of Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto; a joint performance with the BBC Concert Orchestra for Duke Ellington’s A Tone Parallel to Harlem; Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady with the dance troupe, Clod Ensemble; Parallel, a tribute to the legendary free-form Jamaican jazz genius, Joe Harriott, collaborating with visual artist, Emma Godebska; live film scores for John Akomfrah’s acclaimed documentary The Stuart Hall Project, and the Oscar Micheaux/Paul Robeson silent classic, Body And Soul; a big band reimagining of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, featuring guest vocalists Eska, Lisa Hannigan, Emel Mathlouthi, Nadine Shah and the poet Sabrina Mahfouz for International Women’s Day at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
NCO toured The Jazz Ticket in England in 2017-18, a project that celebrated the centenary of five giants of jazz, and featured the PRS New Music Biennial commission, A Journey With the Giants of Jazz by Peter Edwards.
The Orchestra made its BBC Proms debut in 2019, performing Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts with the BBC Singers, the London Vocal Assembly led by Carleen Anderson, and featuring Jamaican pianist, Monty Alexander. In 2021, the NCO revisited their Joe Harriott project, Parallel, presenting a sonic and visual tribute in collaboration with video artist, Catarina Rodriguès.
In 2021, NCO made a perfectly timed creative exploration and celebration of Marvin Gaye’s seminal masterpiece, What’s Going On, five decades after its release, featuring soul vocalist Noel McKoy, immersive visual projections by Yeast Culture and poetic interventions by various artists including actor Colin Salmon, and poets Casey Bailey, Malik Al Nasir, Saili Katebe and Aflo.
Summer 2022, and it was an honour NCO to perform Ellington’s Queen’s Suite once again at the Southbank, but this time as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II. Later, in November 2022, NCO were joined by ESKA on vocals, for a national tour of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and Mingus albums that visited Brighton, Poole, Bristol, Liverpool, Sunderland, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.
Led by, Musical Director, Peter Edwards every performance of this superb interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s music was greeted by roaring cheers from the audiences and was also superbly received by the critics:
“Exceeding all hopes, this made Mingus and Mitchell’s visions as vivid as they’ve ever been, and as breathtakingly advanced. An unbelievable experience. If you get the chance to see this, do not miss it.”The Arts Desk: Nu Civilisation Orchestra feat. ESKA presents Mitchell’s Hejira & Mingus
Nu Civilisation Orchestra…telling stories that impact our times through the lens of music.