Aurora Orchestra:
Bringing virtuosic performances to life online

Website and edtech platform design for a world-renowned chamber orchestra

One of the Aurora players relaxing on a park bench at night. He's wearing a dinner suit, with his bowtie undone, and holding a lit cigarette in one hand. He's wearing a creepy low-polygon mask of a skull with horns.


  • Website
  • Digital performance platform
  • Learning platform
  • Design platform

About Aurora Orchestra

Aurora Orchestra are a pioneering chamber orchestra, renowned for their electrifying performances and playful approach.

I’ve worked with them since 2016, collaborating on a whole bunch of projects, from their main website, through to a ground-breaking remote events programme and a digital learning platform that brings rich musical experiences to primary school age children.

The explore music section of the Aurora website, showing highlights from Aurora's past performances.
A performer page from the Aurora website, showing the profile of Alexandra Wood, a lead violinist. There's a photo of Alexandra, plus some biography text and a video.

Orchestra websites have a definite look - they’re usually on a dark background, with loads of image banners and text everywhere, and they’re kind of hard to use.

In the spirit of doing things differently, we decided to step away from that. Aurora’s site exists to hold their diverse work up to the light, and invite visitors on a voyage of discovery. Less like a dark concert hall, and more like a well-lit entrance to a world of orchestral adventures.

The Aurora website homepage running on a smartphone. There's an almost-fullscreen banner with the text 'Orchestral adventures' and the Aurora logo overlaid.
The events page of the Aurora site on a smartphone. There are filters for time and event type, and a bunch of image highlights for individual events.
The about page of the Aurora site on a smartphone. There's a styled photo of a few performers in an oversized doll's house, with the text 'We aspire to be the world's most creative orchestra' overlaid.
An event page from the Aurora site on a smartphone. There's a cover image for the event, overlaid with the event title and a button to buy tickets, followed by some text about the event.

The mobile experience is super important, because people often find out about Aurora events through posters and leaflets in venues.

Clear, crisp typography works with tightly gridded images and pops of accent colour to help visitors do get what they came for, and experience a bit of Aurora magic on the way.

Aurora are educators as well as performers. I helped them figure out how to turn a massive collection of rich educational resources into a digital product, which gives primary school teachers the flexibility to share music with their pupils in a way that matches their specific needs.

Five Aurora performers on a stage set up for Tchaikovsky's Magical Toybox, the music used for Aurora Learning.

The product site for Aurora Learning takes the best bits of the core Aurora digital brand, and adds colour and roundness to bend them in new, interesting directions. It’s also super optimised for conversion, using a classic Simon Sinek golden circle to tell teachers what’s great about the product and drive them to a time-limited free trial.

A playlist builder in Aurora Learning, showing activities and audio files sequenced to make a lesson. There are options to switch to lesson mode, or to download scores and charts related to the lesson content.
A screen from Aurora Learning's lesson mode. There's a full-screen video, with a thumbnail strip along the bottom to skip to other activities and audio files.

The actual learning happens in a webapp. Based on conversations with teachers, we developed a modal interface.

In planning mode, they can easily check out lesson plans, zoom into detail, or build their own lessons from a library of activities.

When they’re in the classroom they can quickly switch to a teaching mode optimised for digital whiteboards, which foregrounds video content and big, tactile buttons, so it’s easy to use when you’ve got one eye on the screen and the other on a room full of rambunctious children.

Elements from the Aurora Learning design system on a pink gradient background.

It all runs off a modular design system that minimises the amount of learning teachers have to do when they first arrive. Super-clear contextual navigation and a tight library of repeating interface components move the experience way ahead of outdated educational software.

We got a load of feedback during a pilot phase, and used that to tweak our components. The result is an experience that allows teachers to jump straight in and get value immediately.

“Our creative team love the way Robb translates their ideas into reality. He’s a thoughtful and creative collaborator, and our first port of call for advice when we're wrestling with a new challenge.”

John Harte
Chief Executive, Aurora Orchestra

Honourable mentions

Saboteur look after Aurora’s main visual brand, and they’re very good about letting me twist it and tweak it to bring it to life onscreen.

The outward-facing Aurora sites were built by Long White Digital, a Wordpress micro-agency who do loads of work with charity and arts organisations. The learning webapp was built by Adam Davis.

See for yourself

Check out Aurora's main site at

Aurora Learning is up and running, and being used by a load of teachers - check out the product site. You can sign up for a free trial if you want.