A NORTH-EAST orchestra has picked up a national award for an innovative performance in one of the region's busiest shopping centres.

Cobweb Orchestra, based in Spennymoor but made up of musicians from across the region, has been recognised by the Voluntary Arts England's inaugural Epic Awards.

The orchestra won the innovation category for its performance of Ravel's Bolero in Eldon Square, Newcastle, which has notched up 78,000 internet hits and is inspired by flash mobs - seemingly impromptu public performances in busy areas.

Andy Jackson, Cobweb's creative director, said: "It's wonderful when people enjoy and celebrate what you do, and now is the time when voluntary artists are really going to make a big difference."

Award winners received a range of prizes including cash and membership of the National Association of Local Government Arts Officers at a reception in the House of Lords.

The innovation and creativity awards were presented by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications, and Creative Industries, who said the awards remind people of how important voluntary arts are to the arts world.

The Cobweb Orchestra meets weekly to rehearse but members also join together for study days, workshops, performances and residential weekends.

Members are often lapsed players who have taken up their instruments again or adults who are new to an instrument.

Rehearsals are in St Paul's Community Centre, Spennymoor, at 8pm on Wednesdays.

For more information visit cobweborchestra.org.uk.