The Fantasy Orchestra

The Fantasy Orchestra is a community project led by Jesse D Vernon, based in Bristol and also in Paris. The Orchestra (motto: ‘more is more’) brings together 40+ musicians, professional and amateur, to create a kaleidoscopic symphonic brigade.

Their eclectic repertoire covers film soundtracks (Morricone, Barry, RD Burman), rock and pop favourites (Hendrix, Beatles, Bowie), and some more obscure treasures. Think psychedelic loveliness, rousing choral noise, and some choice costumes.

‘I can’t remember having such an entertaining, fabulous evening in ages! … Incredible!’
Christina S, Keynsham Music Festival 2016

‘For all the fun-filled antics the Bristol Fantasy Orchestra is actually a seriously brilliant musical experience.’
Bristol247, Bristol Harbourside Festival 2015

More testimonials here.

Find and follow us on Facebook!

Here’s a playlist from some of our performances:

Le Fantasy Orchestra vous invite à une relecture généreuse et bricolée de la musique orchestrale des années 50-60, cette musique conçue pour faire voyager l’auditeur au moyen de sa chaine stéréo Hi-Fidelity. Les compositeurs de musique de film et d’easy-listening réussissent alors le pari fou de téléscoper jazz, psychédélisme, world music et mélodies irrésistibles. Du Western-Spaghetti d’Ennio Morricone au Bollywood de RD Burman en passant par Jimi Hendrix, le Fantasy Orchestra vous propose une aventure musicale inoubliable ! Voici un playlist youtube:

Summer roundup

We played two big shows over the summer:

We threw our Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Kings Weston House on Saturday 4 June…


…and headlined at Keynsham Festival on Saturday 2 July…


…for which our set included a Dr John number, thoughtfully youtubed by the audience.

And then we got on our bikes and headed to Kent. More of which soon.



Spring doings

It was a busy spring…

We celebrated the World’s Most Famous Unknown People at the Cube on 2 April, with a set including music by Connie Converse, Judee Sill and – in person – Andy Skellam and (below) Rita Lynch:

we popped along the M4 for a set at the Ivy House in Nunhead on 23 April;


we donned appropriate cossies for an Apes Alliance benefit at the University of Bristol on 28 April;


and we played two sets at the Big Love Festival in Hay-on-Wye on 30 April/1 May.


We then split ourselves in two on the weekend of 7 May: while most of our number played at the Park Row Sustrans Festival in Bristol, several of us hopped on Eurostar to join our friends in the Paris Fantasy Orchestra’s for their Bowie Party.

And then we did more… of which more soon…


Celebrating Bowie

How was your winter?

We beguiled the long dark evenings with a few gigs and polished up some new material, which we unveiled at Bristol I Beseech You, our contribution to the Fringe events supported by the BBC6 Music Festival in Bristol.

Having besought Bristol, we celebrated Bowie on 5 March at a show hosted by Backwell Festival — a fond and full-throated tribute delivered with support from The Ambling Band and Invisible Circus. Joining us were old FO friends and guest singers Chris Apthomas (also keyboards) and Jimmy Goodrich:


There’s a Flickr album, of course.


Bristol, I Beseech You! #6musicfestival fringe event 13 feb 16

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Whilst the national spotlight is once again shine Bristolwards with the BBC 6Music Festival taking place here, The Fantasy Orchestra have decided to join in and celebrate the magnificence that is Bristol’s homegrown music. We present a set of original tunes by Bristol-based artists such as Rachael Dadd, Andy Skellam, The Precious Mings, Paul Bradley, Rira Lynch, Rozi Plain, Jamie Harrison, This Is The Kit and more!

Expect the exotic; psychedelic loveliness; rousing choral noise; some choice costumes – and possibly a musical saw

Be sure not to miss that gorgeousness that is our opening act…
Yama Warashi; a Fishponds based supergroup led by Yoshino Shagihara who blend a fusion of traditional Japanese melody and harmony, new age and old age sounds, mixed with a rotating smorgasbord of local talent.

£7 in advance from bristol ticket shop (£10 on the door)

Kuumba Centre 20 Hepburn Road, Stokes Croft, Saturday 13th Feb, 2-6pm

The Great Bowie Night – Montreuil, Paris


Soiree David Bowie – 16 janvier 2016 à l’Espace Albatros, 52 rue du Sergent Bobillot, Montreuil.

En raison de la capacité limitée de la salle de concert (150 places ) Nous allons donner 2 representations le samedi 16/02. L’une à 16h et l’autre à 20h. Pensez à prendre vos reservations:



L’inénarrable Fantasy Orchestra–au complet, avec chorale et section cordes–vous invite à une fabuleuse soirée David Bowie en Technicolor –attention les yeux les amis ! (et les oreilles… 😉 )

Une scène ouverte précèdera le concert, venez chanter votre Bowie song préférée !

Come and check out the Fantasy Orchestra doing their bowie set with a full set of strings, horns, and singers. Doin’ it like David never did it before, all the lushest arrangements in full effect with some wonderful talents on guest vocals

Navidad Nuestra: seasonal shows coming up!


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Fresh from our Bowie extravaganza (of which more soon), we’re playing three dates in Bristol over the festive period, reprising the Navidad Nuestra suite from last year plus sundry FO faves.

Sat 19 December: St Peter’s Church, Filton, 2-4pm
Sun 20 December: All Hallows Hall, Easton, 3-5pm
Mon 21 December: St Michael’s Church, Windmill Hill, 7:30-10pm

Poster designed by Melanie Wickham (baritone sax).

Tickets: please email


Halloween: Zombies, ghouls and… er, a druid

Autumn’s been a busy season for the Fantasy Orchestra. First there was our set at the Priston Festival near Bath, then for Halloween we took over the Kuumba Centre in St Paul’s, Bristol for a night of macabre revels.

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The mostly new repertoire included songs by Dr John and the Specials, and Jeffrey Lewis’ If You Shoot the Head You Kill the Ghoul, which is fast becoming an orchestra favourite.


Lots more ghastly photos on our Flickr pages.

Coming up on 5 December at the Trinity Centre: our second Bowie Night!

Ghost Town


What we did on our holidays

A quick summer roundup before the new term…

18 July: The day after we opened the Harbour Festival, we played at a wedding in Boiling Wells, St Werburghs:

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Then, after the Fantasy Orchestra summer picnic…

11-15 August: The Devon and Cornwall Tour, largely bicycle-based, taking in gigs in South Zeal and Yelverton:

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…and finishing at the Good Earth Festival, Keveral Farm:

Coming up: A set at the Priston Festival, 19 September!