This 20 strong contemporary chamber music group comprises Craig Fortnam (b. September 1967, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England; guitar/conductor), Sharron Fortnam (b. April 1971, Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England; vocals), Jennifer Garcia (b. December 1975, Basildon, Essex, England; violin), Geraldine Peach (b. November 1968, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England; oboe/vocals), Dug Parker (b. March 1974, Bolton, Lancashire, England; vocals), Luke Crooks (b. July 1976, Manchester, England; bassoon), Gideon Miller (b. August 1967, London, England; vocals), Louise Harrison (b. February 1966, Guisborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England; vocals), Richard Larcombe (b. 1972, Derbyshire, England; vocals/guitar), William D. Drake (b. February 1962, Stock, Essex, England; vocals), Suzi Kirby (b. August 1971, Watford, Hertfordshire, England; vocals), Sara Longe (b. October 1978, London, England; violin), Melanie Woods (b. May 1969, London, England; vocals), James Larcombe (b. July 1980, Plymouth, Devon, England; piano/chamber organ), Hugh Wilkinson (b. October 1977, London, England; percussion), Ben Davies (b. November 1970, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England; piano/chamber organ), Harry Escott (b. September 1976, London, England; cello), Brian Wright (b. 1971, Canada; violin), Nicola Baigent (b. April 1970, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England; clarinet) and Kavus Torabi (b. December 1971, Tehran, Iran; vocals).
Formed in October 2002 by composer Fortnam and his wife Sharron, North Sea Radio Orchestra was originally intended as a medium to perform the classical compositions of Fortnam, whose works had previously been performed by, among others, the Kreutzer Quartet and the Britten Sinfonia. Consisting of just eight members at the time of inception, the outfit begun performing in 2002, mostly in churches in central London and has since performed the works of a number of composers, including member William D. Drake, and expanded to include the talents of 20 musicians, split into the instrumental orchestral side as well as the North Sea Chorus, who provide accompanying vocals.
North Sea Radio Orchestra signed to Oof! Records to release their debut 7-inch record, ‘The Flower’ in August 2005. The single thrust the ensemble into the limelight, receiving unexpected airplay on a variety of mainstream UK radio stations. Their debut album was released in October 2006 and was met with excellent reviews throughout the music press, drawing plaudits from specialist classical publications as well as indie music magazines, who compared the ensemble's sound to any number of musicians and composers, from Arvo Pärt and Ralph Vaughan Williams to contemporaries such as Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Brian Eno. In fact, this self-titled recording, in terms of overall comparison, bore a more striking similarity to modern chamber-indie acts such as Final Fantasy. The album effortlessly combined the outfit’s baroque roots with elements of folk, post-rock and pop, and fluently changed its mood from track to track, expertly utilising the vocals of Shannon Fortnam and the North Sea Chorus to add an extra dimension to music that effectively bridged the wide gap between ancient and modern musical styles. Particularly successful tracks included ‘Every Day Hath It’s Night’ and ‘Joy For My Heart’.