About us

We are an orchestra.
We sometimes play music written by living humans.
We think basements have great acoustics.
We clap when we want.


People, places, music

The Grand, Clapham

Feast On This: The Third Coming!

December 09, 2017

“At a time when the world is in greatest need, they will come down on the clouds of the sky….”

BIGGER, BETTER AND MORE BATSHIT THAN EVER BEFORE. Featuring the beloved festive singalong, dancealong and blessalong, with more glory and rapture than ever before. Give your sense of the surreal a good spit polish, invite your office party and bring your nan along. Once the proper bit is over, we’ll turn up the bass and have a top notch Chrimbo disco-party. You thought you were feeling festive? You are now.

Arcola Theatre - Grimeborn 2017

Porgy and Bess

August 05, 2017

Porgy and Bess contains some of the most iconic music of the twentieth century, but there is much more to this work than easy livin’ and cotton growing high. The composer George Gershwin sought to do justice to African American music in this maverick creation, but over the years, controversy and accusations of racial stereotyping have dogged his ‘folk opera’. Our concert performance with key extracts from the narrative was part of Arcola Theatre's acclaimed alternative opera festive, Grimeborn. Vocal performances by Talia Cohen and Masimba Ushe.

The Grand, Clapham

An Evening with Basement Orchestra

May 06, 2017

We're taking you from music hall to dance hall in one glorious evening! Start the night with some lush twentieth-century music featuring Sibelius, Hendrik Andriessen and Richard Rodney Bennett; then ease yourself into the sublime with some classic Gershwin ballads. After the last note is played, get your dancing shoes on and stick around for a truly legendary Saturday night party at The Grand…

Bethnal Green Working Men's Club

Feast On This 2!

March 05, 2017

2016 was a crazy year. We gave it a right old send-off, with singing, dancing and mince pie eating, with Shesus and the Sistas bringing that multigendered edge you never knew Christmas needed.

The Garden

Secret Garden Party 2016

July 23, 2016

This time we headed to the Main Stage with a set inspired by the Voyager Golden Record. This was Basement Orchestra's musical mesage into space - Mozart, Beethoven and David Bowie.

See the performance on our YouTube channel.

The Arcola Theatre

Classical Death Match

May 01, 2016

Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the two titans of musical history returned in the finest of fine drag-king finery to face each other and prove their supremacy once and for all. We were busting out each contender’s greatest hits – no filler tunes – for the fight of the millennium.

The Arcola Theatre

Feast on This!

December 06, 2015

In the most divine collaboration, we joined forces with the Spiritual Playground to bring you an extravaganza of yuletide fun and frolics to knock you for six geese a-laying. There was music. There was singing. There were games. There was glitter, sleigh bells, dancing and angels, all held together by Shesus herself. Stuff your stocking, baste your turkey and put a Christmas tree up your chimney. It’s Christmas, but not as we know it...

The Arcola Theatre

Story Time with Basement Orchestra

August 16, 2015

An afternoon of music interwoven with stories, it began with Prokofiev's classic for children, 'Peter and the Wolf'. We followed it up with 'Misch-Masch', a new commission by Jasmin Kent Rodgman, inspired by Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky... and by having fun. 

Part of The Arcola Theatre's alternative opera, Grimeborn. Catch the video.

The Garden

Secret Garden Party 2015

July 24, 2015

Another year, another summer in the Secret Garden. This year it rained, but that didn't stop us making beautiful noises.

The Tin Tabernacle

Wood, Tin, Brass & String

January 17, 2015

We played to a sold-out crowd at the Tin Tabernacle - built by Scottish railway workers, bisieged with bombs, home to the actual altar from the film 'Beckett' and now basecamp of the local Sea Cadets and their formidable collection of rope. It was a chilly evening to put your hands around something or someone warm, settle down in between the oars and go on a voyage with us.

Bethnal Green Working Men's Club

So Last Century!

November 14, 2014

All the best things of the 20th Century: French impressionism, rendering life's smallest tragedies through music; big bands droppin killer swingtime beats to dancefloors packed with lovers and criminals; and the foot-tapping, heart-breaking, groove-making sensations of the squelchiest of funk. This all brought to you by Basement Orchestra, Duke Street Big Band and Black Forest Ghetto.

The Garden

Secret Garden Party 2015

July 25, 2014

Nothing says 'summer magic' nor 'wreckless abandon' quite like a glittery chamber orchestra playing Debussy. So when the Head Gardener invited us to join the fun, who were we to say no?

Central Foundation Boys' School

School Supper Party

May 10, 2014

Culture, music, food, and tap dance, in a school canteen much fancier than we remember.

Utopia Airlines Terminal, Hackney

Future Shorts - 10th Anniversary Party

November 30, 2013

To celebrate the tenth year of Future Shorts, now a legend of cinema's antiestablishment, Utopia Airlines took passengers on a tour of favourite short films from the past decade. We took our instruments aboard and made music at 30,000 feet.

G.O.O.D. Inc H.Q.

Secret Cinema presents... 'Brazil'

May 05, 2013

Secret Cinema invited its audience to join the ranks of G.O.O.D. Inc employees and explore a 13-storey recreation of Terry Gilliam's satirical dystopia. Basement Orchestra provided unseasonal festive cheer, energy to corporate wellbeing sessions and a moment of sadness. We made the Croydon Guardian.

The Round Chapel, Hackney


April 20, 2013

We hung out with Will Self, Andrew Maxwell and a magical chihuahua for a bit, then we treated an audience feasting on gorgeous food to some equally gorgeous music.

Rough Trade Records

Book Slam Annual Vol II: The Launch

November 28, 2012

We joined Jesse Armstrong, Peter Serafinowicz, Salena Godden and a Rough Trade-ful of lovely book-lovers for the launch of Book Slam's second annual of exclusive short stories, 'Too Much Too Young'.

beautiful music in unexpected places


We need you.

We are an amateur orchestra of musicians looking for something a bit different. All our players have quite a bit of playing experience, in all kinds of different orchestras, bands and miscellaneous ensembles. We play music. We have fun. If you'd like to join us, select your section...


We love making music, experiences and happenings in collaboration with other people and groups who share our passion for the unexpected. If you're interested in working with us, or would like us to bring some music to an event you're creating, don't be shy.

Contact us on: firebird@basementorchestra.com