Paraorchestra coming to streets of Knowle West

SMOOSH! will see performance of inclusive 70-piece orchestra and dancers
SMOOSH! at Filwood Community Centre in July (and below). All images courtesy of Paraorchestra.

Internationally acclaimed musicians from Paraorchestra will be performing in the streets of Knowle West this September – inviting residents to take part in a “communal karaoke” on their doorsteps.

SMOOSH! will see a 70-piece band, along with an inclusive troop of dancers, playing infectious pop classics in a colourful parade.

Bristol-based but performing across the UK and internationally – Paraorchestra is the world’s first large-scale ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians.

A core of 20 Paraorchestra professionals will be joined by up to 50 amateur wind and brass players on the afternoon and evening of 17 September – in their biggest commission to date.

Alongside will be a group of professional and community dancers of all ages – including a squad of young people from Bristol inclusive dance charity, Flamingo Chicks. 

The free event, staged in partnership with Filwood Community Centre and Bristol Beacon, aims to bring a much-needed antidote to months of lockdowns and the absence of live entertainment providing “a safe and accessible community event with a street party vibe”.

With arrangements by rising star, Emma-Jean Thackray, the SMOOSH! tracklist includes songs by artists such as Bristol’s Massive Attack, Basement Jaxx and Fat Boy Slim as well as Adele and Knowle West’s Tricky.

Residents are being invited out on to their doorsteps to dance and sing along in a vast communal karaoke – or ‘massaoke’.

Paraorchestra Artistic Director Charles Hazlewood says: “We have really lucked in with this opportunity to share the first outing of SMOOSH! with the community at Knowle West.

“It’s a community with a big heart and they have welcomed us with open arms – for which we are incredibly grateful. In addition, the astonishing town planning of Knowle West, with its big wide streets and housing with front gardens, means we can deliver this hugely ambitious music project safely and accessibly, without anyone missing out. 

“Whilst Paraorchestra performs across the UK and internationally, we are based in Bristol, and we put our heart and souls into anything we put on here. This September we very much belong to the people of Knowle West.”

Creative Director at Filwood Community Centre, Makala Cheung, says: To be working with Paraorchestra and doing something in this community but inviting the wider community across Bristol to join in is amazing. 

“It’s an opportunity for people to get involved, collaborate, and spread positive vibes around the community. I think it’s going to be like the parades we’ve had before, but 100 times better and even more fabulous. We all need more stuff like this, especially after the year we’ve had.”

Paraorchestra has been an Associate Artist of Bristol Beacon since 2019 and forms a key part of the venue’s future programming ambitions as it continues with its transformation plans.

Artistic Director at Bristol Beacon, Todd Wills, says: “Not only is it fantastic to continue our long and creative partnership with the Paraorchestra but to have the opportunity to work alongside Filwood Community Centre and focus this project outside the city centre is essential to the work we’re doing at Bristol Beacon. 

“We’re keen to ensure that culture is accessible to everyone across the city and it’s projects like SMOOSH! and the dedication of everyone involved that make this possible.”

SMOOSH! is able to take place thanks to funding from The Linbury Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and DCMS Culture Recovery Fund.

The event will travel to the streets of Knowle West on Friday 17 September and there will be two routes:

Route A will start at 4pm from Filwood Broadway and travel along Hartcliffe Road to Bantry Road, along Carlow Road into Connaught Road and end at Toynbee Road.

Route B will start at 6.30pm from Toynbee Road, turning into Connaught Road, down Padstow Road and then along Hartcliffe Road to Filwood Broadway, finishing on the green.

All times are subject to weather conditions.

For more information and maps of the routes visit: https://paraorchestra.com/our-projects/smoosh/