The Imperfect Orchestra

Contributor Jesse Holliland investigates this exciting and innovative music project

The Imperfect Orchestra Online


The Imperfect Orchestra is the creation of three Plymouth friends who are passionate about music and art: Chris Bailey from OPENhand Creative, Tom Richardson who is a Specialist Mentor working in Higher Education and Chris Muirhead of Last Shop Standing Records.

After an impromptu group jam at the iconic White Rabbit in early 2013, moving image artist Alistair Gall approached the group to score his work Home that was being shown in the city as part of the creative movement Imperfect Cinema. They jumped at the idea, gathered their most musical friends and ‘The Imperfect Orchestra’ was born.

The orchestra is made up of 3 core members and a selection from their eclectic pool of around 20 local musicians; this system allows them to evolve with each new project and offers a wealth of potential in terms of instruments, skills and approaches. They describe themselves as being “essentially a rock band base with idiosyncratic extras”; a non traditional orchestra who use skill, tenacity and imagination to create the same range and depth that you would expect from a classical orchestra, finding innovative and creative ways to compose sections and harmonise the instruments that they have rather than searching for the instrument that might traditionally be chosen for the piece.

After the success of Home it took almost a year for the group to find a project that brought them together again but since then have been building a name for themselves in the city, performing as part of the River Tamar Film Festival: All About the River in 2014 and then with their most recent project Relic working with artist and film-maker Kate Richardson which was recently performed at Plymouth University.

Instruments in the rehearsal space

Katy operating the slide projector in the performance of Relic

The stage for Relic

The Imperfect Orchestra performing ‘Relic’

Relic has been their biggest collaboration to date; previous works have been scored to run alongside already completed visuals as almost a separate artwork but Relic has been created in complete collaboration with the artist Kate Richardson over the past 18 months. Relic is a visual work shown through live performance of music, film and stills which celebrates the life of Dilys Richardson who lived with dementia; presented as the imagined journey through a mind with dementia. This collaborative pattern is set to be a marker for the group in future projects and The Imperfect Orchestra has big plans for the future!

They are currently fundraising for the next performance of Relic which will be part of the Plymouth Art Weekender in September and have recently had a great success to celebrate as a winning pitch at ‘Devonport Soup: Arts Special’. They are also planning a developmental project to mark the anniversary of Robert Lenkiewicz’s death and on his work on ‘Death’ next year. For upcoming and future projects they are excited to explore ways of collaborating with creatives to score music to art forms other than film, including painting, performance, sculpture and more abstract concepts.

If you would like to learn more about The Imperfect Orchestra and what they do, or you are a creative who would love to have a chat about future collaborations then please do get in touch with them. The group are also interested in building on their current network in the city and would love to speak to people who could bring non-musical skills to their organisation.