The Portsmouth Sinfonia was founded in 1969 by the British composer Gavin Bryars (composrs of Jesus' blood never failed me yet) with a philosophy that anybody could join regardless of their skill or lack of it. Sometimes described as being full of people with absoluetly no talent it did in fact encompass the whole range from genuine virtuosi to complete incompetents. At various times the orchestra featured, amoung others Brian Eno (on Clarinet), Michael Nyman and Simon Fisher-Turner.

They released three albums

  • ..Play the Popular Classics
  • 20 Classic Rock Classics
  • Hallelujah: The Portsmouth Sinfonia Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Some of thier most popular music was the Popular Classics where they played the best known bits out of well known pieces of classical music such as the Da-da-da Daa Da-da-da Daa from Beethoven's 5th. Brian Eno (who describes them as an influence of the way some of his music sounds) talked about their music thus:
It was this particular mix so that in any piece what you heard was a number of approximations of how the piece should be played. You'd hear the melody of whatever it was, hidden somewhere among all those approximations of the melody. It was like a very blurry version, a soft-focus version, of classical music, and it produced some beautiful music. I really liked some of those results. There were some exquisite moments - the mixture of chance and choice, you know?
Truly great music, though hard to find, but to be heard occasinally on WFMU.