Paraorchestra released their new album 'Death Songbook'

The orchestra and the collaborating artists proudly present 'Death Songbook'.

“So much of the greatest art certainly from my point of view, is intrinsically melancholic,” says Charles Hazlewood, founder and Artistic Director of the pioneering Paraorchestra. Hazlewood is an award-winning conductor who has led some of the world’s most celebrated orchestras. “Music which is about death, or the death of love, about loss, about anxiety, there's a transcendence in that music. My go to whether I’m feeling happy or sad or somewhere in between, will be melancholy music because that's where the catharsis is, that’s where art is most resonant.”

During the pandemic, when death was an enveloping presence reduced to unimaginable numbers daily. Charles Hazlewood was struck by the idea of an album of “very delicate re-clothings” of the most morbidly beautiful and poignantly sombre songs from his youth, entitled Death Songbook. “The only rule,” he says, “is that all the songs have to have a relationship to death or the death of love.”

Listen to 'Death Songbook' here.

“We benefited immeasurably from the generosity of spirit, and the sonic imagination of all of the guests.” Charles Hazlewood

Further inspiration came as a result of 2019’s Festival of Death and Dying - a weekend of music, poetry, performance art and discussion held in Somerset. This festival was intended to encourage a society which accepts the inevitable and celebrates the life left behind. Charles began mulling over one of society’s last great taboos. “We are horrified by death for good reasons,” he says, “but we don't like talking about it, we don’t like thinking about it, we don’t like staring it in the face. And yet it’s the one thing that all of us will have to go through.”

Paraorchestra recorded the majority of Death Songbook in an afternoon at the peak of lockdown in January 2021, socially distanced across Europe’s largest opera stage – the Donald Gordon Theatre at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. “There’s this lonely little group of 13 musicians in a huge wide circle on this vast empty stage in this vast, empty auditorium,” Charles recalls. “There's something quite bleak and poetic about that in itself.”

'Death Songbook' Tracklist

1. The Killing Moon (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
2. Unsung (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
3. Holes (feat. Nadine Shah) (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
4. Nightporter (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
5. She Still Leads Me On (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
6. Wonderful Life (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
7. The Next Life (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
8. He's Dead (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
9. Enjoy The Silence (feat. Gwenno) (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
10. The End Of The World (feat. Nadine Shah) (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
11. My Death (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)
12. Brutal Lover (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)

                                                              Paraorchestra Online

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