Wembley Park came alive on Sunday as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) returned with the second chapter of “Wemba’s Dream: Join the Journey.”
Drawing a diverse crowd, this event featured three free family-friendly performances held in unconventional urban settings, including the RPO’s first-ever performance in a coach park.
“Wemba’s Dream: Join the Journey” featured original compositions by contemporary artist Dani Howard, accompanied by local talents such as Mahogany Carnival Arts, St Michael & All Angels Steel Orchestra, Word Up, Sujata Banerjee Dance Company, and reggae artist Trevor Brown. The 55-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra added a touch of classical sophistication to the mix.
The name “Wemba’s Dream: Join the Journey” pays homage to Wemba, an Anglo-Saxon traveller who settled in the area in 825 AD, giving rise to the name “Wembley.” The performance delved into the theme of personal journeys, exploring how they shape lives, from moments of hope and joy to times of self-discovery and new perspectives. It celebrated the resilience of those who embark on journeys, crossing borders in search of a new home, and using art to share their stories.
The original “Wemba’s Dream” took place in 2021, and this second instalment began at The Undercroft, a newly created performance space beneath the Olympic Steps leading to Wembley Stadium. The audience was then guided to the versatile space at Green Parking, with Mahogany Carnival Arts leading the way.
Dani Howard, recognised for her fresh approach to composition, worked alongside RPO musicians and local performers to create new scores and innovative arrangements. The event served as a precursor to the RPO’s planned relocation to Wembley Park in 2025, aligning with their mission to become a more inclusive and contemporary international orchestra. Wembley Park, with its ideal acoustics and diverse cultural backdrop, proved to be the perfect setting for this dynamic event.
Josh McNorton, Cultural Director, Wembley Park said: “We are delighted to have marked the enduring partnership between Wembley Park and the RPO through this creative event, aimed at highlighting Brent’s finest talents and celebrating our local heritage.
“Wemba’s Dream, with its innovative and fresh take on orchestral music, is a jewel in our calendar of free cultural events here at Wembley Park. The fact that it returned this year has thrilled us immensely. With the rich and diverse creative talent in Brent and the RPO, Wemba’s Dream really struck a chord with our local audiences.”
James Williams, Managing Director, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, added, “Our vision is to ensure that everyone, everywhere can experience the thrill and excitement of live orchestral music. Community engagement and inclusion play a central role in that. We want everyone to feel welcome, from our current audiences to those who have never before experienced the power and the beauty of live classical music.
“The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is on a journey to build an inclusive, relevant and exciting orchestra for the modern age, where musicians from all backgrounds have equal opportunities based on merit. Our projects in Wembley Park are perfectly aligned with that vision and we are delighted to have reached new and diverse audiences with Wemba’s Dream: Join the Journey.”