The Rambler :: blog

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Portsmouth Sinfonia 

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There was a great piece on the Portsmouth Sinfonia in the Sunday Times this week. This was an orchestra set up by Gavin Bryars in 1970 - which at times counted Brian Eno and Michael Nyman amongst its members - with only one rule of membership: that you couldn't play the instrument you had chosen. During one concert, as a member of the audience, Michael Nyman was "so moved and entertained and excited by the music that I went up to Gavin in the interval and said, 'Is there a spare instrument? I'd like to join.' They had a spare cello, so suddenly I was playing In the Hall of the Mountain King in the second half." There are gentle move towards getting some of their recordings re-released. Must buys if that ever happens.

The article also contains the following choice passage:

"The sinfonia was once served with a cease-and-desist order by the publishers of Also sprach Zarathustra. To [manager Martin] Lewis's eternal regret, the case never came to court. "I wanted to bring the whole orchestra in as witnesses. They complained that we'd rearranged the piece, and we said, 'No, we haven't, we just haven't been able to play it very well.'"

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