MUSIC: HISTORY, SURVEYS & THEORY

PUBLISHER
Soberscove Press

BOOK FORMAT
Paperback, 6.75 x 9 in. / 232 pgs / 30 color / 80 bw.

PUBLISHING STATUS
Pub Date
Forthcoming

DISTRIBUTION
D.A.P. Exclusive
Catalog: SPRING 2020 p. 80   

PRODUCT DETAILS
ISBN 9781940190235 TRADE
List Price: $28.00 CDN $39.00 GBP £25.00

AVAILABILITY
Awaiting stock

BROWSE THE 2020 SPRING CATALOG

Preview our Spring 2020 catalog, featuring more than 500 new books on art, photography, design, architecture, film, music and visual culture.

  

SOBERSCOVE PRESS

The World's Worst

A Guide to the Portsmouth Sinfonia

Edited by Christopher M. Reeves, Aaron Walker. Foreword by Gavin Bryars. Text by Christopher M. Reeves.

Featured image is reproduced from 'The World's Worst.'

Butchering the classics through avant-garde amateurism: the Portsmouth Sinfonia embodied the joyous collectivism of 1970s British counterculture

In 1970, galvanized in part by the musical experiments of avant-garde composers Gavin Bryars, John Cage and Cornelius Cardew, students at Portsmouth College of Art in England formed their own symphony orchestra. Christened the Portsmouth Sinfonia, its primary requirement for membership was that all players, regardless of skill, experience or musicianship, be unfamiliar with their chosen instruments. This restriction, coupled with the decision to play “only the familiar bits” of classical music, challenged the Sinfonia’s audience to reconsider the familiar, as the ensemble haplessly butchered the classics at venues ranging from avant-garde music festivals to the Royal Albert Hall. By the end of the decade, after three LPs of their anarchic renditions of classical and rock music and a revolving cast of over 100 musicians—including Michael Nyman and Brian Eno—the Sinfonia would cease performing, never officially retiring.

The first book devoted to the ensemble, The World’s Worst: A Guide to the Portsmouth Sinfonia examines the founding tenets, organizing principles and collective memories of the Sinfonia, whose historical position as “the world’s worst orchestra” underplays its unique accomplishment as a populist avant-garde project in which music, collectivity and humor all flourished. The unorthodox journey of the Sinfonia unfolds here through interviews with the orchestra’s original members and publicist/manager, magazine publications, photographs and unseen archival material, alongside an essay by Christopher M. Reeves.


Featured image is reproduced from 'The World's Worst.'

PRAISE AND REVIEWS

author of Henry Cow: The World is a Problem

Benjamin Piekut

This incredible book should serve as a guiding inspiration for every future shambolic disaster born of love.

Daniel and Brett Sundheim Cheif Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art/ University of Pennsylvania

Anthony Elms

The historical accounts and remembrances herein are full of contradictions, pleasures, jokes and awkward moments between performers and audiences that always steer toward inclusion and veer from cynicism and pessimism.

author of The Grid Book

Hannah B Higgins

The Portsmouth Sinfonia's sincere efforts to play the classics (on instruments chosen without the benefit of performer schooling) yielded nothing less than an as-yet-unsurpassed, unbridled joy for audience and musician alike. These key texts offer insight into the group dynamics and social and cultural relevance of the project and reminded this reader that the history of experiments in music includes a wealth of joyful paths not taken and worthy of revisiting.

author of Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music

John Corbett

The ramshackle texture, the historical context, the sense of humor, the egalitarianism, all the ways in which their world was one of radical potential—The World's Worst presents the Sinfonia in all its lumpy glory.

director of the Colloquium for Unpopular Culture, New York University

Sukdev Sandhu

What a teeming, joyful tribute to the Portsmouth Sinfonia this is. The World's Worst is a paean to art school experimentalism, to the creative value of amateurism and accidents, to the idea that conceptualism can also be anarchic and funny.

The World's Worst

STATUS: Forthcoming | 6/2/2020

This title is not yet published in the U.S. To pre-order or receive notice when the book is available, please email orders @ artbook.com

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The World's Worst

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Edited by Christopher M. Reeves, Aaron Walker. Foreword by Gavin Bryars. Text by Christopher M. Reeves.

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ISBN: 9781940190235
USD $28.00
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