The Pangean Orchestra, based in Phoenix, opened just a year ago and has established an orchestra with people, instruments and sounds from all over the world. In fact,this is the first orchestra of its kind.
The unique thing about this group of 29 performers is they don’t play the typical instruments. Their music comes from different sounds of the bass guitar, sarode, woodwinds, horn, kaval, oud, doumbek, ukulele and more.
“I knew I needed a certain amount of winds, plucked strings, percussion and bowed strings,” says Colin O’Donohoe, director of the Pangean Orchestra. “My idea is that with a world orchestra, the actual instrument is interchangeable as long as we have enough of each type to create the sound we need.”
The plan of this group is to tie cultures together through music. Creating a new genre that will impact those that listen to it by adding bits and pieces of new and old to craft a completely unique sound.
“The idea came from me; I’ve spent the last 10-plus years working with ethnic groups of different types,” says O’Donohoe. “I founded and lead the New Moon Orchestra in Pittsburgh which was a Chinese ensemble. I’ve worked with African, Brazilian, Latin, Turkish, Arabic and other groups. After a while I thought, ‘What if…’ and that’s where the Pangean Orchestra was born.”
The orchestra opened on April 11, 2010 at Symphony Hall with an inaugural concert.
“The musicians were recruited by me,” says O’Donohoe. “Through diligent searching over the past two years I’ve been able to find several highly talented musicians in Phoenix. I asked them to join the group and most of them jumped at the chance to work with other talented professionals from all different backgrounds.”
O’Donohoe says the Pangean Orchestra explores the different cultures through music, expanding the learning of sound, native instruments and unity. As they travel around the country performing, the significance isn’t only the music but the ties of the people of different backgrounds.
“The main idea is a platform where people from all over the world are welcome,” says O’Donohoe. “I want to create an orchestra that shows the harmony of what is possible when the world shares one stage performs together.”