I am really pleased to announce that Towards Harmony, A Musical Integration was awarded it’s first laurels having been officially selected for London’s International Short Film festival. The film premiered last night at Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey, South London.
In 2017, The British Paraorchestra became the first orchestra of disabled musicians to perform as part of a mainstream classical programme, making their Birmingham debut at Symphony Hall this February. Richard Hawley, the Programme Manager at Symphony Hall saw what a wonderful opportunity it was to bring the worlds first disabled orchestra up to Birmingham and integrate them into his classical season.
The show consisted of a range of music from Corelli to Paraorchestra musician, Adrian Lee’s ‘A’, a piece devised around themes of Shakespeare’s Tempest. Yet the focus was on Lloyd Coleman’s ‘Towards Harmony,’ a composition written for each and every eclectic instrument in the orchestra. Coleman deliberately wrote for individuals within the orchestra, think sitar’s, lutes, harps and even an assistive technological instrument called the Headspace. His piece, appropriately named ‘Towards Harmony’ begins discordantly with a menagerie of unconventional instruments but as it develops it crescendos with all instruments harmoniously coming together into an aural voyage.
This fantastic world first composition was performed in conjunction with the infamous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Fusing disabled and non-disabled musicians on an international stage proved that:
“A person should be defined by their ability and not their disability.” Charles Hazlewood, Artistic Director of the Paraorchestra and Friends.
Being a filmmaker, this show felt like the perfect story where I could document the journey, the development process, the high’s and the lows and culminate with the fantastic concert. In doing this, I hope the film has shown that the disabled Paraorchestra musicians are on a par with the CBSO musically. More importantly to me and I learnt this through the filmmaking process, is that positivity and determination is something to be admired and learnt from.
For me, this innovative collaboration between the Paraorchestra and the CBSO physically represented a shift ‘towards harmony’ in the classical world, hence the commandeering of it for the name of the film, Towards Harmony, A Musical Integration.