Despite the challenges of the last couple of years, Bristol Recovery Orchestra has been able to continue working together using Zoom during times when they were unable to meet in person. An invaluable way for members to stay in touch with each other, the sessions have also helped participants to keep their connection with music alive.

In late summer of 2020 the group began to meet again in person and by the end of the year put on a private performance with members to celebrate this achievement; three BSO Musicians travelling to Bristol to take part.

Following this success, the group was able to meet safely to resume weekly rehearsals from January 2021 and in July they made two public performances alongside three BSO musicians. The second performance was part of a three-day free music workshop entitled Reconnect; Recharge; Recover; intended to reunite the recovery community post lockdown and to celebrate the importance of human connection for healthy and thriving communities. You can see the results of this day in the performance below!

Jon James, BSO Associate Musician, who works closely with the Bristol Recovery Orchestra said:

“The Bristol Recovery Orchestra has become a close-knit musical family. One member recently talked about rehearsals being a ‘beacon’ in the week, something to orientate around and look forward to, particularly when their lives are otherwise so chaotic. We’ve become more musically adventurous over the years, going from three-chord moodscapes to elaborate arrangements.

This term, with the help of BSO musicians, we are attempting an intricate cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, as well as making up our own piece, as we always do. There’s no shortage of creativity in this family!” 

Sophie Wilsdon, Creative Communities Manager at Bristol Drugs Project said:

Bristol Recovery Orchestra has become a central part of BDPs creative offer, which also includes Rising Voices Recovery Choir. We are grateful to BSO for their continuing support in terms of running costs, but also creatively, musically, and with future planning dream projects! We believe that creativity helps to foster self-esteem, confidence, positive relationships, performance and presentation skills, discipline, and most importantly, having fun in recovery!

All of these qualities directly impact on people’s recovery capital which makes maintaining recovery from drug and alcohol use much more possible. We are also very proud of our role in challenging stigma around people who use drugs by performing to the public who have their preconceptions challenged, as well as their hearts lifted.”

 A musician from the Bristol Recovery Orchestra said:

“Before this, I had got to the point where I was seriously considering getting RID of my musical equipment, because it felt in the way, having a negative impact on me. But I kept resisting, because, deep down, I still wanted to play again, and I knew it would be counterproductive and I could never replace the old instruments I cherished. This is what the Orchestra has done for me. I can play on a regular, weekly basis, with others, and get to perform live to audiences! That is exactly what it is all about, and it is a TOTAL PRIVILEGE.”  

Independent film maker Irene Carter has edited a documentary about the group. Filling the Void premiered at The Bristol Beacon in November 2021, and you can view it below:

To learn more about the Bristol Recovery Orchestra in partnership with Bristol Drugs Project click here