Paraorchestra. The Anatomy of an Orchestra, Colston Hall, Bristol, 2018 ©

Paul Blakemore

Friday, February 7, 2020 to Saturday, February 8, 2020

The orchestra is a thing of wonder, and of mystery. The Anatomy of the Orchestra: Refractions and Abstractions provides a unique opportunity to climb inside this perfect team and explore its inner workings.

In this part installation, part concert, performed in the Garage Museum Atrium, audiences were invited to wander the ensemble, creating their own sonic mix, getting up close and personal with musicians as they play.

This show explored the centuries-old yet wild panache of Baroque composer JS Bach, and an abstracted, modern, and jaw-dropping reimagining of ancient musical form by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, coupled with other modern reflections—or refractions—on these long-past musical worlds by contemporary composers Nico Muhly and Peter Maxwell Davies.

Led by conductor Charles Hazlewood and performed by musicians from Paraorchestra playing a mix of traditional and electronic instruments, this world premiere promises a 360-degree feast for the eyes and ears; an extraordinary sonic adventure like no other.

“We didn’t just see something. We heard something. We were immersed in something truly extraordinary…. Paraorchestra should be applauded for having something truly original to say about what orchestras can be. It is a demonstration of how we can move forward.”
Sir Nick Serota, Chair, Arts Council England on The Nature of Why


Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major
J. S. Bach BMV 1048
This is the Record of John
Orlando Gibbons/Nico Muhly
Two Preludes and Fugues (in C sharp minor and C sharp major)
J.S. Bach/Peter Maxwell Davies
Louis Andriessen

The event is part of the UK-Russia Year of Music organised by the British Embassy in Moscow with the support of the British Council