Enter this live sound installation exploring the workings of an orchestra
The orchestra is a thing of wonder. It is also, invariably, a thing of mystery: Many musicians making a perfect collective sound, how does this happen? The Anatomy of the Orchestra is part concert, part installation; providing a thrilling opportunity for the audience to climb inside this perfect team, to immerse themselves in its mechanisms and to explore its process.
In its first outing, The Anatomy of the Orchestra turned Bristol Beacon’s foyer inside out when a total of fifty-one musicians, drawn from the Paraorchestra ensemble and conducted by Charles Hazlewood, were spread across the four levels of the atrium to play The Four Sections, a rare work for symphony orchestra by the highly influential American composer Steve Reich.
It was amazing… As I walked about it was most noticeable how everyone I passed smiled in the certain knowledge that we were all sharing something really unique”
Its return to Bristol Beacon February 2022 was filmed for Sky Arts and makes up one of six episodes of a documentary presented by Paraorchestra Artistic Director, Charles Hazlewood, exploring the 21st century orchestra. With Paraorchestra at its core it will tear down the old-fashioned ideas of what an orchestra is, and, in turn, demonstrate exactly what a modern orchestra can be. The series will be available to view on Sky Arts and Freeview later this year.
Armed with an astonishing and enveloping piece of pulse music – Steve Reich’s The Four Sections – and a giant orchestra arranged like a sculptural installation, I can promise each and every visitor to our Anatomy a quite extraordinary sonic adventure.”
To be able to stand between a violin and a clarinet was glorious. A position no ordinary punter would be lucky enough to be in. I closed my eyes and listened, really listened… It was joy”
Emma Champion, Arts Blogger
Produced by Paraorchestra, The Anatomy of the Orchestra was first presented by Bristol Music Trust as part of Bristol New Music Festival 2018 on Saturday 21st April 2018. It played at the Arnhem Foyer, Fairfield Halls, Croydon, Sunday 22nd September, Birmingham Symphony Hall 17th July 2021, returned to Bristol Beacon 27 February 2022, and formed part of the opening celebrations of Southbank Centre’s 2022 classical season 24 September.
(Unofficial footage courtesy of Ade Smith, audience member)