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Portsmouth Sinfonia


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The Portsmouth Sinfonia was a real orchestra founded by a group of students at Portsmouth School of Art in Portsmouth, England, in 1970—however, the Sinfonia had an unusual entrance requirement. Players had to be either non-musicians, or if a musician, play an instrument that was entirely new to them. Among the founding members was one of their teachers, English composer Gavin Bryars. The orchestra started as a one-off, tongue-in-cheek performance art ensemble but became a cultural phenomenon over the following ten years, with concerts, record albums, a film and a hit single. The impact of the Portsmouth Sinfonia was considerable, and though the ensemble has not performed publicly in the UK since 1979, the name and reputation has endured.

Many modern composers and musicians found this to be interesting and even profound; the comedic aspects of the music were merely a bonus, though it was used extensively for marketing purposes. Brian Eno was interested enough to join the orchestra, playing clarinet, and subsequently producing their first two albums.


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  • ffg

    'Miss Binding agreed to transpose the concerto down from the original key of B flat minor to a more manageable A minor. "Sharps and flats tended to unnerve the orchestra," Lewis explains.'

    20 Jun 1:02pm Reply
  • floslow

    Incredible music. Never heard such a thing before. Do you ?

    30 Dec 2013 Reply
  • RustlingRagazza

    The Monty Python of classical music. [2]

    7 May 2012 Reply
  • Starless_night


    27 Feb 2012 Reply
  • GeorgeMcLennon

    epic fail! :D

    3 Oct 2011 Reply
  • zweet

    "upon the collapse of civilisation i shall take this to my mountaintop"

    3 May 2011 Reply
  • npcza

    i got another album, yay!

    1 May 2010 Reply
  • gertietheduck

    Personally, I am not just amused. I actually love the way it sounds...

    25 Apr 2010 Reply
  • guru_mosh

    This isn't funny. This is horrible. I got headache now. :D

    28 Mar 2010 Reply
  • npcza

    I really enjoy the albums I have of this. It is such a clever idea.

    16 Mar 2010 Reply
  • mrcolj2006

    I've listened to these guys for years, and most people freak out when I say that. But they responded the same 10 years ago when I'd tell them about Tom Waits...

    5 Mar 2010 Reply
  • recrimination

    Fuck the Beatles. This is where it's at.

    12 Sep 2009 Reply
  • Snutskallar

    The Monty Python of classical music.

    8 Sep 2009 Reply
  • gompedyret

    also sprach is my new wake up-tune :D

    15 Feb 2009 Reply
  • AvantWalrus

    Perfection to the max! Gotta love that drum machine!

    10 May 2008 Reply
  • goldbones

    fuck, this is brilliant!

    10 Apr 2007 Reply

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