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.

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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:

Just like 1967 again

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, we premiered a new set of arrangements of tunes from ’67, including music by the Velvet Underground, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors and The Association.

With the help of several friends from our Paris chapter, we took over Kings Weston House on 17 June for our big summer event, featuring oil projectors, floral outfits and several different mini-ensembles.

Besides our main outdoor set, there were plenty of mellow happenings within. It all came to a storming climax around midnight from prog rock maestros Asteroid Deluxe.

 

Winter and Spring 2017 – what we got up to

How’s your year gone so far? Go anywhere nice this summer? Right, we’ve got some catching up to do.

Our 2017 gigs started with ‘Love In Outer Space’ on 18 February at All Hallows Hall, Easton. We debuted some new arrangements of tunes by Sun Ra, the Velvet Underground and the Andrews Sisters. To prove that it happened, there’s a handy montage on YouTube:

Then, among a few smaller gigs, we sent our crack Morricone Squad to the Salt Café on 8 April to play an evening of lovely soundtrack music; and our Wedding Corps was dispatched to Glastonbury on 26 May to gild a knuptial knees-up with psuitable psychedelic psounds. Oh, and we helped someone special propose to another someone special in a flashmob sort of a thing at Café Kino.

If you were at the Folk House on 9 April, you’ll know that we played a show there, too, and ditto 27 May in the Bear Pit:

That gets us up to the end of May – and we’d only just got started…

 

Ursula Le Guin Appreciation Day, 6 Aug 2016, Café Kino, Bristol

Fantasy Orchestra leader and guiding light, Jesse D Vernon, writes:

As committed-for-life fans of Ursula Le Guin, my wife Kate and I decided to start running appreciation days when we discovered some amazing music, composed by Todd Barton, to accompany one of her  books, Always Coming Home. Published in 1985, about a cultural group of humans—the Kesh—who “might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California.” (p. i) Part novel, part textbook, part anthropologist’s record, Always Coming Home describes the life and culture of the Kesh people.

Todd Barton wrote a selection of folk songs and music which the Kesh might have been going to sing and they make wonderful listening and a great subject for a singing workshop and performance.

You can find the original compositions here:
http://toddbarton.com/music/music-of-the-kesh/

Our Event took place at Café Kino in Bristol, UK and we started off with the singing workshop.

Here are some recordings we made on the day:

http://soundcloud.com/the-fantasy-orchestra/sets/songs-of-the-kesh

We started with the singing workshop 2-4pm

5pm we watched the film “The Lathe Of Heaven” followed by a discussion lead by Sheryl Robinson and the Bristol Utopian Book Collective.

7pm We were treated to a talk by Helena Hoyle-King about maps featured in the novels of Ursula Le Guin. This was followed by a map making workshop  lead by . Helena.

Here are some of the maps made:

8pm “Mothers Of The Terrible Glow” performed some of their sci-fi inspired instrumentals with excellent introductions, explanations and insights from Daniel Potter.

 

A seasonal threefer

We heralded the approach of the holiday season with a reprise of our Navidad Nuestra set at two shows on Saturday 17 December.

And earlier in the day we also managed to fit in a quick flashmob at the Bearpit for BBC Radio Bristol:

Christmas Flashmob!

What a lovely way to spread a bit of Christmas joy!! The Fantasy Orchestra – Bristol performed this brilliant flashmob of this top David Bowie track! Well done The Bristol Music Show for organising!

Posted by BBC Radio Bristol on Saturday, 17 December 2016

Then it was off to Filton Church in the afternoon, and Windmill Hill in the evening:

And then it was Christmas.

 

Mists and mellow tunefulness, Part One

Autumn was a busy one.

We played our annual fixture at Priston on 17 September…

 

…followed by a workshop and show on 22 October at the Creative Arts School in Plymouth…

…and two supporting slots with This Is The Kit at Bristol’s Trinity Centre and the legendary Union Chapel in London, featuring Rachael Dadd (below left), Rozi Plain and TITK’s Kate Stables on vocals with us.

 

(Some more Trinity pics on Flickr)

Then we did some more…

Our World Tour of Kent

Kent was our oyster in late August 2016, as we bicycled merrily from Graveney to Deal, with stops (and gigs) in Canterbury, Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

 

We rendezvoused with the Orchestra’s newly hatched Kent chapter…

 

and pedalled on to the Smugglers Festival in Little Mongeham near Deal. If we get a good pic of the show, we’ll chuck it here!

 

 

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…

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…and headlined at Keynsham Festival on Saturday 2 July…

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…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;

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

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

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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:

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There’s a Flickr album, of course.