Extraordinary Bodies & The British Paraorchestra

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“Our collaboration rewrote the rule book. A stage groaning with talent, at least three quarters of it disabled; Riley’s egalitarian brand of minimalism writ large through gesture – sonic and sculptural. A rapt audience in collective held-breath, and a tangible sense that nothing would ever be quite the same again.”

Charles Hazelwood, Artistic Director, The British Paraorchestra

In June 2016, The British Paraorchestra invited Extraordinary Bodies to collaborate on a one-off performance of Terry Riley’s iconic cornerstone of classical minimalism, In C. The British Paraorchestra is the world’s first professional ensemble of disabled musicians. Based in Bristol and led by pioneering innovator of classical music, Charles Hazelwood.

Composed in 1964, In C consists of 53 short repeated melodies in C major. How often each melody is repeated, coloured or intensified, is completely the choice of each individual player – but each player also has a responsibility to the whole ensemble, and each performance is different to any other performance of the piece that has ever happened.

Extraordinary Bodies took cues from the musical structure. We devised a series of physical ‘gestures’ to develop and combine in a complementary style to the musical phrases. It was a fantastic opportunity to experiment with movement, sound and the senses; to share the skills of our artists with new audiences; and to work alongside a company in harmony with our vision and values.

The combined effect of Extraordinary Bodies and The British Paraorchestra playing In C was described as cathartic, uplifting and engulfing. The aural equivalent of climbing inside a giant lava lamp.

This performance was commissioned for Fast Forward Festival 2016 at Bristol’s Colston Hall.
Video Producer & Director: Phoebe Holman, Camera Operator & Editor: Louis Gane, Photography: Paul Blakemore