I am really pleased to announce that my documentary Towards Harmony, A Musical Integration was awarded its 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 world’s first disabled orchestra up to Birmingham and integrate them into his classical season.
Being a filmmaker, and with the added bonus (and insight) of being Project Co-ordinator for the Paraorchestra and Friends, this felt like the perfect opportunity to document the journey; the development process, the high’s and the lows and the rewarding culmination of a fantastic concert.
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 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.
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 learned this through the filmmaking process – is that the positivity and determination demonstrated by the musicians is something to be admired and learned 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.