WHAT do you get when you put 70 classical musicians on stage alongside djs, a choir and individual vocalists?

Graeme Park, one of the founding talents of the British rave scene, is quick to answer: “A 90-minute continuous mixture of euphoric glory!

“It’s singalong hands-in-the-air music that a lot of people over 40 and 45 will remember from their youth.”

Graeme, alongside Joy Division and New Order veteran Peter Hook, is a guiding force behind Hacienda Classical, which comes to Westonbirt Arboretum on Sunday, June 16 from 6pm.

The set is played as a continuous live DJ mix where vocalists, choir, the Manchester Camerata Orchestra and guests combine.

“We re-imagine classic house tracks from the 80s and 90s,” said Graeme, plus this year some more recent stuff from the last five years.”

Graeme, like Peter Hook, was an integral part of the Hacienda scene, helping to make the name of the now-defunct Manchester club known the world over.

Graeme has been dj-ing since the mid-1980s, and was consulted by the makers of 24-Hour Party People, the 2002 semi-fictionalised film biopic of Factory Records boss Tony Wilson, which starred Steve Coogan.

The genesis of Hacienda Classical was a desire to take the music further, and the germ of the idea came a few years ago during an early-hours post-show conversation between Graeme and Peter.

“We were in a hotel bar at about 4.30 in the morning - and being told we needed to leave so they could start the breakfast! We left and were waiting for the lift and one of us said, ‘Classical, that’s what we should do.’”

Hacienda Classical is now in its fourth year and has won enthusiastic reviews throughout the country, and according to Graeme it goes from strength to strength with each new season.

“With everything we’ve learned,” he said, “this show - I guarantee - is the best by a long way. Even if you’ve seen it before, no you haven’t. You need to witness it.”

The show has been staged at plenty of indoor venues, notably the Royal Albert Hall, but as far as Graeme is concerned there’s nothing to beat outdoor performances.

“We always time the start so the sun sets half way through our show. What starts off in a fairly traditional way turns into a rave - but a rave with a massive twist.

“It’s two worlds colliding. In ours there’s a lot of making it up as you go along and going with the flow, and also a lot of leeway as to when we perform and how we perform, whereas classical music needs a score and a structure, and when it comes to rehearsals it’s set in stone.

“To start with, it’s difficult to get anything to work.”

In spite of those initial difficulties, everybody believed so strongly in the project that they persevered - and succeeded.

Although many members of the Hacienda Classical audience are people who remember the House and rave scenes of the 1980s and early 1990s at first hand, Graeme notices plenty of younger people enjoying the music just as much - perhaps after raiding their parents’ old collections.

Among the older generations there is the occasional unashamed nostalgic tear as they hear parts of the soundtrack to their younger days.

Hacienda Classical’s Westonbirt gig is part of the ongoing annual series of performances at the national arboretum.

Tickets for Hacienda Classical cost £38.50 plus a £4.35 booking fee. Visit boxoffice@forestryengland.uk or call 0300 068 0400.

(Picture: Jack Kirwin. Cover picture: Anthony Mooney)