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Ulster Orchestra hits right note with 50th anniversary celebrations

By Cate McCurry

The Ulster Orchestra struck a chord with shoppers and workers in Belfast as it launched a series of 50 mini pop-up concerts to mark its golden anniversary.

Musicians performing alone or as part of ensembles gathered at train stations, hospitals, business premises and nursery schools in a bid to bring classical music to every corner of Belfast and attempt a record-breaking expedition of 50 performances.

Passers-by at Victoria Square and St Anne's Cathedral were entertained by the entire orchestra as it belted out a range of classics including Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, which was the first ever piece performed by the orchestra in Belfast City Hall in 1966.

Taking their audience on a journey through the decades, the collection of professional, full-time musicians, brought music from the world's finest composers to the city.

David Stark, the Ulster Orchestra's director of marketing, said that the golden anniversary celebrations would help introduce classical music to a new audience.

"It will generate awareness of the orchestra," he added. "Not everyone in Belfast knows there's a full-time symphony orchestra with 66 musicians who do this every day. We are always looking for ways to introduce people and new audiences to the orchestra.

"We have a big gala concert on Friday night in the Ulster Hall to celebrate our 50th birthday, but we also wanted to do something that got us amongst the people of Belfast, so we're doing 50 concerts in one day across the city - north, south east, west and the city centre.

"Going by social media, it's been successful and has been noticed by the commuters making their way to work.

"People have posted pictures and sharing videos online, so it's been very popular."

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