instant orchestra

with Nico Brown and Martin Brunsden

For families with children aged from 3 years

For audiences of all ages

Capacity 60-120 according to venue

io-happysukiankInstant Orchestra

have been formed and acclaimed by people of all ages in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, across Europe and in four tours to Australia. Previous participants include entire schools, actors, Morbegs, Tellytubbies, theatre festival audiences and Culture Night visitors to the National Concert Hall, Dublin. In this fun hour we spend a little time mastering the angklung, a tuned bamboo rattle from Indonesia, and then invent our own original compositions.

No musical experience is required.

How often do you get the chance to play in an orchestra?
To jam with friends, family and complete strangers – even if you’ve never played an instrument before?

For more than twenty years Nico and Martin have been introducing new participants to the fun and musical adventure of joining an Instant Angklung Orchestra.We calculate we’ve played with at least 20,000 people in that time – not just performed to, but played with children and adults of all ages and in places as far apart as Connemara and Siberia. We’ve played in tents, in schools, in venues, at festivals, in hospitals, in parks, in the desert, on boats and on TV and radio. We’ve had everyone from PJ Harvey to Mrs Mary Robinson participate.

But it’s not enough! We need you!


What is an angklung? An angklung is a tuned bamboo rattle from Java. It produces one melodious note. Angklungs range in size from tiny (high notes) to big (low notes.) Each player can play one or several. With a little cooperation large groups of players produce beautiful music, even if they’ve never played an instrument before.

Who are Nico and Martin? Working musicians. Martin Brunsden is an experienced and versatile double bass and singing saw player. Nico Brown is a multi-instrumentalist composer. Both have decades of experience making music in concerts, recordings, theatre, film and with all kinds and ages of people.

Who can play in an Instant Orchestra? Anyone who can hold one and is able to concentrate on the activity. We have had excellent 3 year old participants. There are up to 120 people in an Instant Orchestra and they can be of any age or mixture of ages.

Is Instant Orchestra suitable for disabled people? Yes. We have many times made exciting music with groups of disabled people of all ages.

What happens in Instant Orchestra? Every group is different, so Nico and Martin approach each new orchestra in a different way. Fun, noncompetitive games, original songs and exercises to practise listening, cooperating and coordinating as a group warm us up before the angklungs are distributed.

After a bit of practice we separate into 7 groups according to which pitch of angklung we are playing. Now we are ready to make music by Nico pointing to groups in turn. Simple, nonverbal demonstration – pointing with the Magic Angklung Conducting Stick of Doom – or indeed a feather duster – produces patterns, rhythms and dynamics no one can predict. Martin and Nico accompany on double bass, accordion or piano. Guest instrumentalists may also participate. Anybody can, and does, take a turn at being the conductor to create a piece for all to play with no experience at all. The music produced can be as simple or as complex as the group wishes.

What kind of space does Instant Orchestra need? Any quiet, well-lit space where the group can stand in one circle and all see each other. Amplification is minimal.

How many people does it take to make an Instant Orchestra? In Indonesia people play sets of 88 anklungs at a time singlehanded. (They put them all on a frame and use mallets.) We have played with as few as 2 and as many as 120 people at a time. Up to that point it’s a case of the more, the merrier.

How long does Instant Orchestra last? Usually about an hour.

Is dancing allowed? You bet it is.






Simon Spain, Director of ArtPlay, Melbourne:
“Instant Orchestra was a fantastic success. The level of engagement between Nico Brown and Martin Brunsden and the many children and parents who came to the performances was very special. Nico and Martin were able to manage large numbers of children but could also create magic in the room. I have been involved in creative arts programming with children for 25 years and was very involved in the Ark between 1996 and 2001. Instant Orchestra is a brilliant distillation of all that is good about interactive arts engagements with children. Nico and Martin really are two of the very best animateurs in the business.”

…and from participants:
“That was really fun!”

“Something parents and children can enjoy together! Brilliant!’ ‘My 2-and-a-half and 4-and-a-half-year-olds loved it, as did the adults.”