28 September 2010

A performance by the Portsmouth Sinfonia

The Portsmouth Sinfonia was an orchestra founded by a group of students at the Portsmouth School of Art in Portsmouth, England, in 1970. The Sinfonia had an unusual entrance requirement, in that players had to either be 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. They last performed publicly in 1979... The only rules were that everyone had to come for rehearsals and that people should try their best to get it right and not intentionally try to play badly.
A hat tip to reader Shackleford Hurtmore for alerting me to this remarkable group.


  1. There is a similar group in Edinburgh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Really_Terrible_Orchestra

    They have a few clips here: http://thereallyterribleorchestra.com/wordpress/?page_id=56 They apparently work a lot of comedy into their shows and are lots of fun to listen to.

  2. WOW!! These folks are really terrible! I would love to see a video of them playing. The percussionist is spectacularly off. Very funny.


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