Friday 23rd November, 2018
An orchestra reinterpreting Kratwerk in a nightclub. Who wouldn’t want to go and see that?! I first saw the Paraorchestra earlier this year, entirely deconstructed and then again on the Old Vic stage, where I danced with them, so I knew this would be a special prospect of a gig. Anything they do is. They stretch the boundaries of what an orchestra can be and do and I love them for it.
The Marble Factory is next door to Motion and I have never been to either, my raving days, if I had any, are long gone. I used to walk past the venue dropping my boy off to school but I’ve never been inside. Other than being freezing cold I liked it. Full of character and space. They were also very accommodating and allowed me a seat, as I’ve been really unwell of late. So much so that I have had to cancel going to 4 gigs before tonight. There was, however, no way I was going to miss this.
We started with what conductor Charles Hazelwood called an ear sorbet. A trio of 20th Century compositions. Starting with Schnittke’s Not A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was all dreamy violin and flute, echoing and circling to Mozart. The music and the venue seemingly not in step with each other! Then the tape composition of Artikulation by Ligetir which was, well, it was odd. Then the enchanting and rather lovely Un Sourire by Messiaen. There was some lovely cello work in that, that I adored.
Charles is an enthusiast, passionate about music, words tumble out of him in a joyous wave. Hearing him talk about music is a joy, hearing him conduct even more so.
What do you get when you cross an orchestra with a synth ensemble and a full band that you have attached close microphones to? Well you have created your very own, entirely unique human orchestral synthesiser. The brilliance of this idea, that you can amplify, distort, squish, bend and meld the orchestra and band sounds live, is breathtaking. This is exactly what Charlotte Harding and Lloyd Coleman have done with this brilliant reworking of Kraftwerk. It’s not a copy, or even an homage, it stands on its own as a piece of orchestral work inspired by and as an accompaniment to the original.
A symphony in 5 parts I suppose is it what was. Each building on the last. Like strata of rock layed down each section perfectly crafted on its own, but layering up and up and up until we reached the peak. The foundation levels were gentler, slower, then the rhythms started to build and grow. The middle piece of the 3 was heartbreakingingly beautiful and made me cry. Again with the cellos! There was a flute somewhere that was groovy, an instrument called a Headspace, where breath became note and sonic landscapes were created in ways you did not know they could. It built and it built and it got funky. Chair dancing may have been going on. Now the venue and the music fitted together, the orchestra was playing rave and it was superb. By the final piece it was getting dizzying the heights they were climbing, onwards we soared, upwards, hurtling along the TransEurope expressway faster and faster. I was off, eyes closed, mesmerised by the music and floating somewhere in deep space. Tears fell, music is beauty, is truth, is life.
Paraorchestra redefine what orchestral music is and can be and they are extraordinary. Simply extraordinary. Whatever the play and however they play it, they make incredible music that challenges your ears and your heart. They encapsulate everything I love about music. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for making music that is open, full of love and accessible in every way.