Musicians in the Orchestra of Scottish Opera have set up Scotland’s first music co-operative following the restructuring of the company last year which resulted in all of its players going on to part-time contracts.
Katie Hull, violinist with the Scottish Opera orchestra and one of the five founders of Music Co-operative Scotland says McOpera, as it will be called, will help keep the orchestra together. ‘The flexible business model of the cooperative will help to protect 53 jobs and retain key players in the music profession in Scotland, a sector where there are very few alternative employment opportunities at the highest level.’
So far 53 players have become members of the music cooperative which will trade under the name McOpera. Ms Hull says ensembles of varying sizes and combinations will be available for hire and will be happy to play at a variety of events from concerts to weddings.
‘Clearly with a big pool of players we have the potential to market ourselves as a full orchestra for hire but we can also cater for events like weddings where people may require just an individual musician such as a harp or trumpet, or a string quartet. Due to our size we would be able to have several string quartets working in different places all on the same day so having an umbrella organisation in that sense is a really good idea.’
Already as an adjunct to the regular St Andrew’s in the Square series the orchestra puts on in Glasgow, McOpera is planning three medium scale concerts next year to showcase the brass, string and wind sections of the orchestra. Ms Hull added that such a set up will give the musicians a great deal of artistic freedom to explore repertoire for unusual combinations of instruments and perform things in bigger groups. She said McOpera are also keen to play for smaller-scale experimental operas in alternative venues.
The idea to set up a music cooperative came from Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) who suggested the idea to the players shortly after the Scottish Opera orchestra went full-time. Earlier this year the CDS launched their inaugural Collaboration Prize and Music Co-operative Scotland were one of three winners to receive a cash prize of £5,000 and up to £5,000 of support.
At the moment McOpera is being run by the musicians themselves and they are hoping to be ready for business with a website up and running by the end of November.