Kraftwerk classics are recreated on tour heading to Brighton

Army of Generals and British Paraorchestra kraftwerk rewerk (c) Lily Holman
Army of Generals and British Paraorchestra kraftwerk rewerk (c) Lily Holman

kraftwerk re:werk promises a “symphonic-electronic joyride on the Autobahn” as Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra embark on a three-date tour.

Coming up are:

Sat 17 November 2018 - Brighton Dome

Fri 23 November 2018 – The Marble Factory, Bristol (with Max Cooper)

Sat 24 November 2018 - The Anvil, Basingstoke

Composed by Charlotte Harding and Lloyd Coleman

Conducted by Charles Hazlewood

Spokesman Rob Allen said: “Modern technology joins classic synthesisers and an amplified orchestra in raising the electrified ghosts of 1970s Düsseldorf in the first UK tour of kraftwerk re:werk, Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra’s remarkable, live reinterpretation of the work of German synth-pioneers, Kraftwerk. Having premiered the show to both audience and critical praise at the Simple Things festival in 2017, the tour takes in Brighton Dome (Sat 17 Nov), The Marble Factory Bristol (Fri 23 Nov) and The Anvil, Basingstoke (Sat 24 Nov), offering three new opportunities to hear a vibrant clash of electronic and acoustic sound, with echoes of the past woven into fresh, contemporary compositions.

“The performance is electronically manipulated, mixed, filtered and distorted in real time, effectively turning Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra itself into a multi-component synthesiser as the 39-piece ensemble performs the original work of composers, Charlotte Harding and Lloyd Coleman under the leadership of acclaimed conductor, Charles Hazlewood. Kraftwerk’s landmark, 1977 album, Trans-Europe Express is the project’s stated starting point, leading to an reworking of the classic record’s ground-breaking fusion of musical technologies, compositional influences and concepts of travel, motion and elusive reality. kraftwerk re:werk gathers a bank of classic synthesisers, electronic instruments, live drums and Vocoder-warped vocals and an orchestra to recite a completely new body of work with recognisable Kraftwerk signatures.

“Prior to kraftwerk re:werk, Hazlewood and his orchestra present iconic and game-changing music by three 20th century titans, Schnittke, Messiaen and Ligeti, artists whose musical worlds collide and merge with Kraftwerk’s. Selected with purpose, these pieces set the raw visceral power of kraftwerk re:werk in shining relief.

“In Bristol, the Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra share the bill with Max Cooper, as the experimental musician presents an audio visual experience in the only standing venue on the tour. It is staged as part of Bristol’s Fair Saturday events, becoming the first English city to participate in the global movement aiming to boost arts, culture and social causes in response to the intense consumerism of Black Friday at the end of every November.

“Having headlined the Park Stage with Philip Glass’ Heroes Symphony at Glastonbury in tribute to David Bowie in 2016 (the first orchestra ever to headline a major stage at the festival) and toured both Heroes and Low Symphonies the following year, Army of Generals and The British Paraorchestra, with Harding and Coleman at the compositional helm, take inspiration from Glass’ approach to explore the essence of Kraftwerk’s masterpiece as opposed to making a direct orchestral adaptation. Stepping stones from horizon-expanding, 1970s continental rail travel to modern themes of migration and from rudimentary seventies synth technology to life-altering 21st century innovation, the performances offer a purposely loud and wildly innovative update on the original, riven with Kraftwerk’s tell-tale aural palette of repetition, unassuming pop hooks and fearless sparseness.

“As the world’s only large-scale ensemble for disabled musicians, some of The British Paraorchestra’s experienced musicians require adaptations or newly designed instruments to make performing possible. One such breakthrough, an entirely new and ‘wearable’ instrument, The HiNote, allows paralysed trumpeter, Clarence Adoo to perform. Acknowledgment of direct parallels between the orchestra’s necessary technological explorations and Kraftwerk’s early embrace of computed sound was a decisive factor in the composers’ decision to make kraftwerk re:werk a determined fusion of pulsing electronica and the orchestra’s asset of outstanding, live musicianship."

Charlotte Harding says: “Movement is a key idea that has been drawn from Kraftwerk’s original into this new score, with the ensemble being made to ‘shift up gears’ throughout the piece, embracing the concept of momentum in music and how this can be achieved by playing with time signatures and rhythmic modulations. Kraftwerk very much had their own synth timbre, a distinct voice all of their own, which we’ve reimagined in orchestral sound. The humanity that Kraftwerk was able to impart and represent despite using cold, hard technology was remarkable and is reflected four decades later as the digital age sets disabled members of the orchestra free to express themselves musically, a link that had a profound effect on the development of the piece.”

Lloyd Coleman says: “Our hope is that Kraftwerk aficionados can pick out fragments of melodies, rhythms, synth sounds and lyrics from the original album that they recognise, but also that complete newcomers to Kraftwerk and synth music can immerse themselves in something original. We’ve created something new that offers a convincing musical thread on which to place known Kraftwerk landmarks, so audiences are on a journey via which they’ll encounter the riff from Europe Endless, then a few moments later hear the refrain from Trans Europe Express and then later on pick out a kit pattern from Showroom Dummies.”

Charles Hazlewood says: “Kraftwerk upended popular music by flooding their truly original electro-pop style with the influences from their classical music education, so returning the favour and turning an orchestra loose on the sounds of a classic Kraftwerk album extends the adventure for us all. Charlotte and Lloyd haven’t only respected the essence of Kraftwerk’s brilliance and original intentions in the new music, but have combined a live band, a synth-ensemble and an orchestra, amplified to compete in the enormous wall of sound, to shake the foundations of each venue with an effect that’s bold, essentially modern and fantastic fun.”

For ticket links and further information about The Paraorchestra and Friends, visit

kraftwerk re:werk has been commissioned by The Paraorchestra and Friends and Simple Things, is produced by The Paraorchestra and Friends and supported by Arts Council England

About The Paraorchestra & Friends

The Paraorchestra and Friends’ mission is to redefine what an orchestra can be. They see it as an extraordinary and perfectly synchronised body of instruments that draws on the tradition of centuries, but is enriched and expanded by the talents, the instruments and the zeitgeist of the 21st century. At our core is The British Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale ensemble for disabled musicians. This boundary-breaking group sets a new template for music-making, either on its own or in collaboration with its two partner ensembles, the ‘Friends’ of The British Paraorchestra. These are the Army of Generals; an electrifying ensemble of non-disabled orchestral musicians that has built an enthusiastic following and is famed for its dynamic energy-fuelled performances, and, Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective; an electronica band comprising some of the big names of pop and rock world. The Paraorchestra and Friends is a registered charity (no: 1163725) based in Bristol that aims to further the aims of the British Paraorchestra through an array of ground-breaking musical projects. Thanks to Arts Council England, The Mark Leonard Trust, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Hauser & Wirth for their on-going support

About Army of Generals

Comprising some of Britain’s finest instrumentalists this orchestra was created by Charles Hazlewood to record with him and feature in his many landmark TV films on music, as well as his Sony Award-winning BBC Radio 2 and 3 shows. Army of Generals continue to be a cornerstone of many of Hazlewood’s projects. Combining deep-tissue musical exploration and breakneck virtuosity, Army of Generals pride themselves on taking their audience right to the heart of great music.

About Charles Hazlewood

Charles Hazlewood won first prize at the European Broadcasting Union Conducting Competition in his early twenties and has since conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras (including The Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, The Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony). He has played Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms, and multiple festivals throughout the world, has collaborated with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Nigel Kennedy, Professor Green and Wyclef Jean, has conducted over 200 world premieres, won the Berlin Film Festival ‘Golden Bear’ for Best Film with his South African township opera company’s U Carmen e-Khayelitsha. He has founded the world’s first large-scale professional ensemble of virtuoso musicians with disabilities - The British Paraorchestra - who debuted at the Closing Ceremony of London 2012 Paralympics and also formed its sister orchestra, Army of Generals. In 2016 he and an amalgamation of both ensembles performed the first ever orchestral headliner at Glastonbury Festival. He has authored, presented and conducted the music in multiple films for BBC TV (on Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, amongst others, as well as The Beatles, Minimalism and Badly Drawn Boy) and has won three Sony Academy Awards for his shows on BBC Radio 2. He created the scores for the South African Mysteries (West End and worldwide) Kneehigh’s Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) and The Tin Drum, and has three TED talks to his name.