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Towards Harmony: 31 days to go / 1 June 2015

Book your tickets for July 3 HERE

That's right - as announced in my last video blog - the world premiere performance of Towards Harmony will take place in Bristol's Colston Hall on Friday 3rd July as part of the Fast Fowards Music Festival. 

I am only too aware that my presence on this blog has been somewhat sporadic over the past 12 months, so as the day draws nearer I aim to post as often as I can manage.

This should bring you an insight into the rehearsal process we're going through for the piece, which has begun in earnest. Last Thursday I visited my first musician, Ziad Sinno, who is a fabulous oud player and really very friendly company. I must admit I was somewhat anxious - in the best possible way - to hear the notes I had written on the page brought to life for the very first time, but I soon saw that Ziad (and I hope he won't mind me saying this) was more nervous about bringing his part to life than I was about hearing it! He sounded great of course, so he needn't have worried, but he shared an interesting thought which might explain his initial nerves.  He said that since receiving the part, he had been under the impression he would need to recreate the notes I had written on the page EXACTLY, in the same way a classical musician might interpret a work by Mozart or Chopin.

But this is not - as I hope I've made clear through my vlogs already - what I'm trying to get the Paraorchestra musicians to do. I want each musician to play a part that matches their strengths, and forcing Ziad to learn a part using a 'classical' approach would have been foolish on my part. Why would I want him, as a Lebanese musician who normally plays traditional Arabic music, to play in such a way? So we used the notes I had written as a springboard to further discussion and experimentation, and formed a part that suited him well. It was satisfying to see Ziad become more and more confident as our morning together progressed, and by the end of the day we were both beaming from ear to ear. A very positive start to my tour indeed! Now, only a dozen or so more to get through in the next couple of weeks...

At the end of this week, it's BBC Music Day, and a group of us from the Paraorchestra will be joining forces with musicians in Bristol to perform at Colston Hall. As part of the promotion for that gig, you may be seeing a few of us pop up on various BBC outlets and social media accounts. Today it was the turn of Steph West, our harpist, who I have introduced you to already on this vlog. You can follow her on Twitter here, and do watch the video from BBC Points West below!


Unique harpist takes to the stage

Harpist Stephanie West has been playing music in the region for 15 years and she'll be playing alongside the British Paraorchestra at Colston Hall on #BBCMusicDay.

Posted by BBC Points West on Monday, 1 June 2015