The Multi-story orchestra
Celebrated as one of the most exciting young orchestras to emerge in recent years, The Multi-Story Orchestra is made up of outstanding young professional musicians who share a commitment to widening accessibility to classical music. Its performances in car parks around the country attract huge, diverse audiences. The group tours local school halls and playgrounds, and runs choir projects that bring together hundreds of young people to perform alongside the Orchestra. In 2016, Multi-Story’s work was recognised with a Royal Philharmonic Society Award for “ingenuity, simplicity, and as a model which can be replicated to create new audiences for classical music around the UK.”
“Forget fusty concert halls, the future of music is emerging in a municipal car park” The Times
“Anyone who doubts the value of music education should get themselves down to this concrete jungle to watch its effects in action” The Telegraph
The Multi-Story Orchestra first played together in 2011 in a performance of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. Based in London, the Orchestra is made up from fantastic freelance musicians from all over the UK and beyond who share Multi-Story's aims to allow classical music of the highest quality to be appreciated as widely as possible. In Multi-Story's quieter months the musicians play in London's other orchestras, including the LSO, LPO, Philharmonia, RPO and other freelance ensembles.
Kate Whitley (b. 1989) is composer and pianist based in South London. As well as writing for The Multi-Story Orchestra she composes for concert, ballets, choirs and orchestras around the UK and her music has been broadcast as part of the BBC Proms. Her piece Speak out to words by Malala Yousafzai was commissioned by the BBC for International Women’s Day 2017 in support of the campaign for better education for girls: ‘a powerful statement, full of kinetic energy’ (Wales Arts Review) and has since been performed by orchestras around the world. Her pieces for children’s choir and orchestra include Alive to words by poet Holly McNish, which won a 2015 British Composers Award and was described as “a remarkable feat” (The Telegraph), and I am I say to words by Sabrina Mahfouz, described as "a tremendous work" (The Times). In 2018 she was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra to write Sky Dances, which was performed by an orchestra of over 100 in Trafalgar Square, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Winning a 2018 Critics Circle Award she has been described as a composer with “a strong, distinctive voice who, without compromising, communicates directly to a wide audience, within the concert hall and beyond”. NMC Recordings released a CD of her music in March 2017, called I am I say: "unpretentious, appealingly vigorous and visceral" (The Guardian); a fresh and individual creative voice” (BBC Music Magazine); “make no mistake, Kate Whitley is a composer to watch”(Gramophone).
Christopher co-founded The Multi-Story Orchestra in 2011 with Kate and has conducted the Orchestra’s performances from their debut performance of The Rite of Spring through to their celebrated BBC Proms appearances in 2016 and 2017. (‘Joyous and expert music-making by the young Multi-Story Orchestra under Christopher Stark’s unflappable direction’ – The Times). Away from Multi-Story Christopher works a lot in opera; he conducted The Marriage of Figaro for English Touring Opera in 2018 (‘exceptionally well conducted by Christopher Stark, a rising star best known for presenting thunderous contemporary scores in a Peckham car park with his Multi-Story Orchestra. Here, however, he shows how elegantly he can shape Mozart, coaxing beautiful textures from his players and pacing the arias perfectly to showcase the young cast’ – The Times). He has worked extensively as Assistant Conductor for Glyndebourne Festival and Tour, and was awarded the Lefever Study Award by Glyndebourne in 2014. Other Assistant Conductor work has been with the BBC Proms, with the OAE, Aurora Orchestra, Oper Köln and with the Gürzenich-Orchester. Christopher has a particularly interest in contemporary music and worked with the BBC Proms Inspire Programme in 2018, conducting Aurora Orchestra in the premieres of the young composers’ work. His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and he has made recordings for the NMC label. Christopher is passionate about community and amateur music-making and is the Music Director for both the Blackheath Halls and Ernest Read Symphony Orchestras.