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Ground-breaking Paraorchestra commission announced for historic reopening night

Conductor jumping in the air on stage

Globally-renowned orchestral innovators Paraorchestra will perform an extraordinary newly-commissioned piece for Bristol Beacon’s highly anticipated reopening this year. The ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians will kick off a jam-packed reopening season on Thursday 30 November with Trip The Light Fantastic – a spectacular collision of sound and light composed in a unique collaborative process.

Under the Artistic Direction of award-winning conductor Charles Hazlewood, Paraorchestra continues to revolutionise and disrupt the orchestral norm. Creating large-scale music experiences in collaboration with their ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians, their work challenges perceptions and creates unifying moments. Known for musical creations that span genres and crosses artforms, the ensemble perform fiercely original pieces in unlikely spaces, and are radically changing who connects with orchestral music, removing barriers to showcase excellence in disabled musicianship.

Paraorchestra, Surgeons Girl, Charles Hazlewood and Limbic Cinema will perform the dazzling commission for the first time on the opening night, marking the reinvention of this landmark venue. As sound and light collide in the transformed space, the spectacle will highlight Bristol Beacon’s spatial capacity – employing the architecture and world-class acoustics as part of the work itself.

As one of the undoubted cultural highlights of the year, the performance marks the reopening of all of Bristol Beacon’s venue spaces, including the 2,000+ capacity Beacon Hall, 500 capacity Lantern Hall and the brand new 200 capacity Weston Stage following a once-in-a-generation transformation.

The pioneering five-year programme of works to the Victorian building has created one of the most accessible venues in the UK for performers and artists. An outstanding attention to detail in the transformation project means that alongside world-class acoustics, the venue’s front of house and backstage areas have been made completely level-access, meaning previously inaccessible dressing rooms, entrances and facilities are now open to all artists, with vastly improved access for audiences to all performance spaces also a key feature.

“When considering how to mark the occasion of reopening Bristol Beacon, we thought immediately of Paraorchestra. Not only does the ensemble represent the spirit of inclusion and reinvention that we cherish in this city, but they were also incredibly open to collaborating with other Bristol artists to create something truly innovative and celebratory. This is at the heart of what we want to do at Bristol Beacon – collaborating with artists at all levels, from local to international, to create a space that is truly open to all and full of possibility.

We’ll be announcing ticket details for the opening very soon and will be keeping them as affordable as possible, with a range of Pay What You Decide options. We can’t wait to welcome audiences back – it’ll be a night to remember.”

Todd Wills, Artistic Director
Bristol Beacon

“Bristol Beacon’s reopening is a moment of enormous importance to the people, the culture and the city of Bristol. We are proud to be Associate Artists of Bristol Beacon, and for the very first performance on this bright new stage, Paraorchestra are excited to premiere a standalone, bespoke commission. This deep and luminescent new composition will embody the sense of hope and possibility, opportunity and renewal that the new Beacon represents.

Incorporating Paraorchestra’s trademark combination of acoustic, analogue and digital instruments, Trip The Light Fantastic is a collaboration with the uniquely gifted Bristolian electronic musician Surgeons Girl, Limbic Cinema, and others who are close to the Paraorchestra family. The result will be an incandescent experience as we collectively move towards and embrace the light.”

Charles Hazlewood, Paraorchestra
Artistic Director

Woman with dark hair performing with electronic instruments

Over a culmination of months, the composition has come together in a unique collaborative ‘call-and-response’ process. Paraorchestra have worked with Surgeons Girl and responding composer Oliver Vibrans to create an evolving work that will take audiences on an expansive journey, illuminated by audio-visual experts Limbic Cinema who employ projection-mapping and innovative lighting techniques in their work. The ongoing improvisation has delivered a multi-sensory experience that will light up the Beacon like never before.

“I’m so excited to be playing at the opening of Bristol Beacon. Working on Trip the Light Fantastic with Paraorchestra and Oliver has been a fascinating process. I’d always been a little sceptical about electronic musicians working with orchestras, but Paraorchestra’s unique collaborative approach has facilitated a space whereby Oli and I can create something fresh and intricate that feels authentic to us all and is truly exciting.

We will soon start the final stages of the visual art with Limbic Cinema. Seeing our work brought to life for the first time in Beacon Hall will be a special moment.”

Surgeons Girl

The evening will be opened by a new commission from multi-award winning composer and current Paraorchestra Musician in Residence, Xia Sloane. Prelude to a Beginning, a sensual and spatial work, will further showcase the full extent of Bristol Beacon’s astonishing natural acoustic.

Crafting the first sounds to be heard in Bristol Beacon after five years of silence in the space is a hugely exciting challenge. My hope with my piece is that seemingly disparate voices will converge into a gently immersive sonic world that then opens out onto Surgeons Girl’s and Oliver Vibrans’ dazzling multimedia experience.

It’s an honour to be working on this project alongside two such brilliant, innovative artists, and I can’t wait to hear it come together”

Xia Leone-Sloane

The night heralds an opening weekend that will also see Bristol Beacon throw open its doors for The Housewarming – an all-day free party across the entire reopened venue on Saturday 2 December, featuring communities, artists and talent gathered from right across the city through an open-call. The weekend is rounded off by Bristol Beacon presents Penguin Cafe on Sunday 3 December, Arthur Jeffes’ much loved and highly acclaimed collective.

Ticket details for Trip The Light Fantastic and The Housewarming will be announced soon. To be the first to hear sign up now at: bristolbeacon.org/opening. Tickets for Bristol Beacon presents Penguin Cafe are on sale now.

Bristol Beacon is a registered charity and gratefully acknowledges the support of principal funders Bristol City Council and Arts Council England.

Opening weekend

You’re invited to celebrate!

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