Channel 4 Arts commissions a raft of music programmes

Channel 4 Arts today announces several music films to be broadcast in August and September.

Along with a night of clubbing in House Party and How Clubbing Changed the World on 24 August, Arts Commissioning Editor Tabitha Jackson has ordered four other music commissions to be shown in August and September 2012.

These include: Bjork and David Attenborough taking a journey through our relationship with music; an inspirational mission by maverick concert pianist James Rhodes, to take his grand piano into a psychiatric hospital; a documentary following the extraordinary efforts of conductor Charles Hazlewood to put together a pioneering orchestra made up entirely of disabled musicians at the top of their game; and a moving film about the effect of Chopin's Ballade No 1 on the lives of two young people, on opposite sides of the world.

Jackson said: ‘The Channel 4 Arts mission is to find the creative expression of what it is to be alive now. While on the face of it these films are about music, in fact what they really illuminate, in a beautifully crafted way, is contemporary human experience and the power of music within that. The joy has been in working with the best film makers around and being able to draw on all forms of music from clubbing right through to classical.'

Attenborough and Bjork: The Nature of Music (w/t)

Attenborough and Bjork: The Nature of Music (w/t) follows Sir David Attenborough and Bjork as they tell the remarkable story of how and why music has evolved, our unique relationship with it, and how technology might transform the way we engage with it in the future.

At the heart of this film is Biophilia - Bjork's cutting edge music project and accompanying interactive musical experience - exploring where nature, music and technology meet.

Bjork and Sir David Attenborough have admired each other's work for years but this is the first time they will have collaborated on screen.

Illustrating how music exists in the natural world, Sir David takes viewers through captivating footage of the Lyre Bird, Reed Warbler and Blue Whales, and also speaks about his own life-long passion for music.

Bjork sees cutting edge technology as crucial in keeping our relationship with music intuitive and accessible to all. This documentary also showcases the amazing range of bespoke instruments Bjork has commissioned to help her perform her ground-breaking new music: a 'pendulum harp', 'sharpsichord' and 'gameleste'.

Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, and best-selling author Oliver Sacks also explains the extraordinary and beneficial effects music has on our brains and explains why performing and engaging with music is something all of us should take more seriously.

Attenborough and Bjork: The Nature of Music w/t (1 x 60mins) is directed by Louise Hooper and made by Pulse Films (feature documentaries on LCD Soundsystem and Blur respectively - Sundance nominated Shut Up and Play The Hits, and Grammy-nominated No Distance Left To Run).

Executive Producer Lucas Ochoa said: ‘Pulse Films are incredibly excited to be working on this remarkable film with Bjork and Sir David Attenborough. Born from Bjork's revolutionary music project, it is thrilling to be able to document this incredible journey with her. She is undeniably one of the most iconic figures in popular culture and truly pushes boundaries like no other artist.'

James Rhodes: Notes from the Inside (w/t)

Classical musician James Rhodes - dubbed "the maverick pianist"- is passionate about taking his music out of the confines of the concert hall and into places it rarely reaches. Convinced that music can change lives for the better, James takes a Steinway grand piano inside one of Britain's largest psychiatric hospitals. With exclusive and unprecedented access, James will meet patients, some of whom have been sectioned, to hear their searing life stories and share his own. This inspirational, moving and sometimes funny film has at its heart James performing individual pieces specially chosen for the patients, pieces he hopes will resonate with them.

With no formal training in music and a job in the City, James dreamt of being a classical pianist from an early age, but it seemed beyond his reach. Just five years ago, after battling depression, self-harm and drug abuse, James spent nine months in a psychiatric hospital. It was only after a friend smuggled an iPod into James' locked ward, loaded up with classical music, that he began to feel a glimmer of hope. Today, he has four albums behind him and a busy touring schedule. This film looks at mental illness through the eyes of someone who has experienced it first-hand and follows him as he returns inside to a psychiatric unit for the first time in five years.

This hour-long film is made by Fresh One Productions (How Hip Hop Changed the World). The director is Ursula Macfarlane and the executive producer is Jeremy Lee.

Paraorchestra w/t

Charles Hazlewood is an internationally renowned conductor who has, over the past 6 years alone, conducted over 50 orchestral world premieres in some of the world's most prestigious venues.

Inspired by his 5-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy, he is determined to create a platform for talented disabled musicians. To this end, he creates a pioneering orchestra made up entirely of disabled musicians at the top of their game.

Paraorchestra w/t follows the recruitment of the musicians and explores their own relationship with music. They all have stories to tell: Nicholas McCarthy, born without a right hand, is making a name for himself as a left-handed pianist; professional trumpeter Clarence Adoo, paralysed from the neck down in a car accident, now makes music on a computer using his head; and Charlotte White, without an instrument since leaving school, has a fundraising concert put on for her by Charles to enable her to purchase the assistive technology she needs to join the orchestra as they play their first public concert in front of thousands.

Through the inspiring personal stories of the musicians, Paraorchestra explores the achievements and challenges facing disabled musicians in Britain today.

Paraorchestra w/t (1 x 60mins) is made by What Larks Productions, produced and directed by Cesca Eaton and executive produced by Claire Whalley.

Chopin Saved My Life

Chopin's 1st Ballade is less than ten minutes long and considered extremely difficult to play, yet it has become one of the most iconic and influential pieces in the piano repertoire. It is an internet sensation with 2000 versions on You Tube - from an eight-year-old Chinese girl to a 70 year-old virtuoso - one version by Horowitz has received over two million hits. It has been likened to climbing The Eiger mountain in Switzerland: demanding extraordinary feats of dexterity, control, speed, memory, and power. This hour-long documentary, directed by Bafta and Emmy award-winning director James Kent, meets Japanese teenager Momoka and Scottish music student Paul Murray to explore how Chopin's extraordinary Ballade Number 1 redeemed the futures of ordinary people in distress and illustrates how classical music still penetrates deep into contemporary life, in unexpected and powerful ways.

Also commenting on the Ballade, explaining and demonstrating its intensities and challenges are four of the greatest pianists alive today: Russian conductor and concert pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy; 29-year-old Chinese pianist Lang Lang; London-born Imogen Cooper and the number one pianist in the UK, Stephen Hough. Those who know and love Chopin's epic piece say everything is contained in these ten minutes: love, tragedy, life, death, hope, anguish and Stephen Hough brings these together with musical virtuosity to perform the piece in its entirety as the film's finale.

Chopin Saved My Life (1 x 60mins) is made by Oxford Film and Television (Wikileaks, The Genius of British Art) and executive produced by Nicolas Kent.

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