Manchester Robot Orchestra

Activity: Other


The Manchester Robot Orchestra is the brainchild of Professor Danielle George, and is coordinated by the School of Engineering. I have been involved with the project since 2016. The robots have been built by school children from around Greater Manchester, with help from Siemens in Didsbury, using recycled materials. For more information, visit:

There are two phases to my side of the project:

1) RESEARCH IMPACT: My writing a Concerto for Flute and Robots, with Gavin Osborn as a soloist. This piece incorporates aspects of my research into the relationship between chronometric and experiential time in a fun way, suited to young children: Chronometric= robots; Experiential=live performer.
2) EDUCATION. Some of our PhD composition students and UG student performers going into schools and helping children (KS2) create music for our students to play with the robots they have built, based on ideas from my own Concerto.

Phase 1 was also completed successfully. Gavin Osborn Gave performances of my Concerto on 26 October at MOSI (as part of the Manchester Science Festival) and 19 November at Halle St Peters. The performance on 26 October received a huge amount of press coverage (there were multiple performances throughout the day), including on the BBC and Granada.

PhD students Josh Brown and Emma Wilde successfully ran education projects (designed with me) together with UG student performers from the Department of Music (the latter donating their services free of charge), based on my outline, in a number of schools. This culminated in performances of the children’s own concerti for instruments and robots at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on 23 April 2017. The Schools involved:

Broadstone Hall Primary, 17 March 2017, two sessions for different classes
Bowker Vale Primary (unsure of the final date chosen)
Christ the King RC Primary, Salford, Friday 24 March 2017
Maudleth Road Primary, 9 December 2017
New Islington Free School, 21 November 2017
Seymour Park Primary, 9 December 2017
King David High School
The feedback from the Schools was outstanding.

Useful links regarding the Robot Orchestra:

Twitter: (@robotsmcr)
The Making of the Robot Orchestra:
The Robot Orchestra at the Manchester Science Festival:
Can a Robot Replace Ed Sheeran?
Make It Digital:
What if Robots Replaced Teachers:
Robot Orchestra making kits:
This project encourages people across Greater Manchester to recycle, learn coding and make robots to form the Manchester Robot Orchestra. Old instruments, electronics and junk are being transformed into musical robots. The EPSRC-funded project is being led by Professor Danielle George and Dr Erinma Ochu at The University of Manchester, in collaboration with Siemens, the Halle and the Granada Foundation plus many more. The idea is to enthuse young people about engineering and music, to awaken their creativity and passion for making and inspire them to enter careers in engineering, which could help future generations to fill the skills gap and boost our economy. With Manchester’s history as a centre of industrial change, educational reform and musical prominence what better place to attempt to make the world’s first recycled Robot Orchestra. The Robot Orchestra will be conducted by ‘Graphene’, a life-size robot built by Siemens. He will be joined by a Lemm Sissay robot in honour of our Chancellor. The University’s Music department will be helping school children to write pieces of music for the Robot Orchestra to play. The Halle have already written ‘The Robots are Coming!’ The Robot Orchestra will play alongside human musicians. As well as the Halle, we are working with young, up and coming local musicians in conjunction with Brighter Sound. Inclusive performances will introduce a variety of different musical styles to families of all ages. The Robot Orchestra project is funded by EPSRC (£69,558), Siemens (£7,000) and the Granada Foundation (£3,000).
2016 → …