Charles Hazlewood leads the Paraorchestra and is Sky Arts’ Ambassador for Music. He’ll be leading a singalong on Sunday 10 July at Idler Festival 2022
Where do you work?
CHARLES HAZLEWOOD: I work all over the world! But when at home in Somerset it’s in my swimming pool studio. It’s my sonic temple, it’s where I incubate ideas, sit around and think and play and burn incense. I have a grand piano there, a vintage Roland synth, a Wurlitzer… a glorious compendium of sound sources. During lockdown I was there for long amounts of time and it’s my place of greatest comfort.
Do you sleep during the day?
I am huge fan of the post-prandial nap but it must be only 20 minutes. It’s called the key nap. Settle down in your favourite armchair, wait for that delicious wave, but hold a bunch of keys in your hand. After 20 minutes, the keys will fall, as that is the moment when you could fall into a much deeper sleep. Which you don’t want, as you will wake up feeling like a pig shat in your head, to quote Withnail and I.
Always art over money, yes?
Always, without the shadow of a doubt. Ask my wife!
What is an orchestra?
An orchestra is the most perfectly evolved example of teamwork., There are 80-90 people on stage, sharing a unique combination of freedom and discipline. Orchestra members ask themselves two questions: how do I look and sound, and how do I make everyone else sound and look good? It’s a heightened form of democracy, of collective endeavour, where no one is more important than anyone else.
Organ vs piano – which wins?
Organ. I don’t even like pianos. They’re too easy. With an organ, you have to coax the bastard. And pipe organs are all different from each other; and if you moved a pipe organ into a different building, it would sound completely different because of the acoustics.
Please recommend an avant-garde composer we may not have heard of.
Pauline Oliveros. She makes an ecstatic drone and invented the idea of deep listening. She recorded underground in giant cisterns, reservoirs, and you get a long rolling echo where all the notes smear into each other. It’s an incredibly spiritual and deeply transcendent experience. Listen to “The Last Time” for a brilliant introduction. I challenge anyone not to be rendered ecstatic.
What is the point of singing?
For one thing, singing is incredibly good cardio-vascular exercise. And for another, singing in a choir is like being in an orchestra – it’s the perfect, evolved form of teamwork. No one is one more than anyone else, and everyone has huge ears – you’ll always aware of what everyone else is doing. Everybody has a voice. If Parliament was forced to sing in harmony every day, we’d have less stupid ego crap and male strutting. We’d have a better world. Why do we sing at the football? We do it because we love it but also because it makes our team perform better.
Reinventing the Orchestra with Charles Hazlewood airs weekly on Mondays till 18 July at 9pm on Sky Arts and Freeview. More about Paraorchestra here. Charles will be leading a singalong at the Idler Festival 2022, Sunday 10 July. More info here.
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