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> > > Colston Hall announce Fast Forward Music Festival with new British Paraorchestra commission

After drawing attention to the quality and diversity of disability music making in 2015, Colston Hall’s Fast Forward is back on Friday 3rd June, this time with a contemporary twist featuring cutting edge music and circus performances from The British Paraorchestra and Extraordinary Bodies.

A photograph of the British Paraorchestra, inculding director Charles Hazlewood and and Clarence Adoo in rehearsals.

Charles Hazelwood and the British Paraorchestra. Photograph © Jon Craig

Colston Hall has commissioned The British Paraorchestra to present a version of Terry Riley’s seminal work In C, a composition which caused a quiet revolution in 1964 when it was first performed. Consisting of 53 short repeated melodies in C Major, performers independently play the phrase of their choice with an eye on the whole, creating a collaborative and overwhelming build-up of melodies and musical textures.

Complementing the musicians, circus performers from integrated circus company Extraordinary Bodies will interpret the work through an exhilarating display of aerial flying and physical theatre, creating an innovative cross-genre performance in Colston Hall’s Main Hall.

The British Paraorchestra is the world's first orchestra for virtuoso musicians with disability; it made its debut in front of a global audience of hundreds of millions at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics. Similarly, Extraordinary Bodies celebrates everybody, disabled or not.

Fast Forward’s return is the latest example of Colston Hall’s commitment to champion accessibility in the arts for disabled people, both on and off stage. Last month in front of a political audience at the House of Commons, Colston Hall launched its ambition to become the first ever Centre for Advanced Training, which will cater for young musicians with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND), as part of Bristol Music Trust’s ambitious £45 million transformation plans for Colston Hall.

These plans were endorsed by Jesse Norman MP, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Charles Hazlewood, founder of The British Paraorchestra and a number organisations including Attitude is Everything and Live Music Now.

Louise Mitchell, Chief Executive of Bristol Music Trust said: 

“It’s a pleasure to host such a unique event in the UK championing disability in music and the arts. Bristol continues to build a national reputation as a city where disabled people can achieve their music potential and where we confront perceptions about disability. Our multi-million-pound transformation will provide the facilities and opportunities to challenge the current perception of SEND music and help create a national profile like that achieved in Paralympic sport. We look forward to welcoming the British Paraorchestra and Extraordinary Bodies to the stage in June.”

Charles Hazlewood, Artistic Director, the British Paraorchestra said:

“We are hugely grateful to Colston Hall for this opportunity to collaborate with the wonderful Extraordinary Bodies and bring something truly unique to the stage. There are few groups of musicians more deeply connected to each other aurally - and spiritually - than the British Paraorchestra: I cannot think of a more perfect ensemble for In C. It cannot work fully without the most profound and connected group dynamic.  

To my knowledge we are breaking new ground for In C with this collaboration; in creating a visual counterpoint from Extraordinary Bodies to the aural one, where Riley's 53 musical gestures are interpreted as movement as well as melody, it takes the experience of this seminal work to a whole deeper, and unprecedented level. The possibilities are intoxicatingly exciting: what impact does the approach of a dancer to a musician have on either of them?”

Billy Alwen and Claire Hodgson, Co-Artistic Directors of Extraordinary Bodies said:

"This is an amazing opportunity for two ground breaking companies to collaborate. Extraordinary Bodies’ circus performers will follow and lead each other through the air and on the floor, never knowing quite what will happen next as these amazing musicians perform a piece of music that can never be the same twice. We are honoured and delighted to be working with the Paraorchestra."

In order to stage the Festival, the Hall is investing around £10k to adapt its facilities and make them fully accessible for the performers and audiences.

Tickets are now on sale for the Fast Forward and can be bought here.