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A Lesson on Failing With the Worst Orchestra in the World

on May 05, 2020, 4:30pm

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The Portsmouth Sinfonia billed themselves as “indisputably, the worst orchestra in the world.” They have brought joy into the lives of millions. In the fifth episode of Ghost Echoes, we learn about the importance and healing effects of failure.

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Music and Sound Notes:

— The recording of Vivaldi’s Concerto for two trumpets heard here is NOT Matthew Parsons and his colleague Glenn Skelton. It is in fact Michel Rondeau (presumably double tracked) and organist Alaine Letendre, sourced from Musopen.

Here’s Chi-Chi Nwanoku’s BBC performance of Failing by Tom Johnson.

— The snippets heard shortly after are from “It Never Entered My Mind” performed by the Miles Davis Quartet, the third movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto performed by Glenn Gould, the first movement of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto performed by Patricia Kopatchinskaja with Teodor Currentzis conducting MusicaEterna, and Hans Abrahamsen’s let me tell you as sung by Barbara Hannigan with Andris Nelsons conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.

— All the tracks by the Portsmouth Sinfonia are from their debut album, The Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Popular Classics. The works excerpted from here are Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, the first movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony, and “The Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss II.

Further reading, listening:

— Information on the Portsmouth Sinfonia came from Cornelius Cardew: A Life Unfinished by John Tilbury and this piece by Eric Grundhauser.

— Thanks to Berlin Atmospherics for the applause SFX.