Bristol Recovery Orchestra played an original piece composed by a group member called I’m Not Sleeping and accompanied Rising Voices Recovery Choir in an arrangement of the hymn from Sibelius’ Finlandia. Thirty performers filled the concert with music and songs from Rising Voices and Oi Polloi Theatre Group (in conjunction with Bristol Old Vic).

There were over one hundred people through the door – standing room only! Sophie Wilsdon (Volunteer Manager at Bristol Drugs Project) said “With the support of BSO Young Associate Lila Bhattacherjee we had one of our best performances ever. Testament to the commitment of our members, and what Jonathan James and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra have created”. 

Here is a video from the event:


Bristol Recovery Orchestra began as an 8-week pilot in January 2019. Led by BSO Associate Musician Dr Jon James, the project’s mission is to bring the power of playing music back to people whose relationship with it has been affected by addiction. The weekly groups are open to anyone who has experienced problems with alcohol and other drugs, and also their family and carers.

You don’t have to be receiving any other kind of drug and alcohol support, and you can stay a member for as long as you like, which makes this project a unique offer in the treatment system and recovery community.

One member said:“Music in recovery means the world to me! The joy of making music with supportive friends is a pleasure and treasure beyond price”

The Recovery Orchestra welcomes anyone who can already play an instrument to a beginner’s level. They use written music and guides, but can adapt to what works for you so long as you can follow a structure.

If you’d like to join Bristol Recovery Orchestra, new members are always welcome. At the moment the group is particularly looking for string and wind players, and guitarists.

Sophie Wilsdon, Volunteer Manager from Bristol Drugs Project said “As well as improving musicianship, our experience shows performance strengthens self-esteem, sense of community and recovery from drug and alcohol use. We rehearse weekly, and perform regularly throughout the year at venues such as Bristol Beacon, St. Stephens and The Unitarian Hall, alongside musicians from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and our amazing team of volunteer musicians and staff.”

Sessions take place every Monday from 12.45 – 3pm at The Unitarian Hall, Brunswick Square, BS2 8PE. For more information on joining, contact Sophie at BDP on or 0117 987 6000.