Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra - An Anthology Of All Things (Lost Toy Records) 
Johnny Parry

Release Date: 5th May 2014

It's not often that I get an album that features opera and chanting monks* in the first few seconds but then again it's not that often I come across an album as mind blowing and genre defying as 'An Anthology Of All Things' by the Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra. So let me guide you through this new and eye opening experience, we'll start at the beginning. 'Movement I (Things I Like About Myself)' is grandiose piece of rousing, classically inspired and opera tinged music that, upon its climax, leaves you expecting Muse to appear in your kitchen ready to bust out some stadium sized rock. But they don't. Instead, we have 'Movement II (A Song For Someone)' which starts with a music box style melody played out on a piano overlaid with a choir of rich, honey-thick male voices before female voices and a host of subtle instrumentation joins in and the song continues in a round. Meanwhile, 'Movement III (Childhood Heroes)' (see free download link below) is a contender for parent of the year theme tune assuming some TV company already has this concept in production deep in the heart of Soho.

Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra - An Anthology Of All Things
By now, you'll have realised that this isn't a typical band with a tight unit of mates or a front man/woman as a focal point. No, This literally is an orchestra and the real star is arranger and conductor Johnny Parry although there are other stars shining here too. The Bedford Arts Choir are on group of heroes as their voices are so in unison and so beautifully harmonised that you can just let yourself be swept away on a sea of their talent. The public should also take a bow as all lyrics were donations and 'Movement IV (1942)' is a great example of this as people were asked to submit memories of that year which included notes on rationing, bombs and cake. On 'Movement V (Park Benches)' you can feel every one of the 24 piece orchestra as Soprano Donna Lennard takes centre stage before 'Movement VI (Romantic Statements)' collects everything from chat up lines to notes of pure love and displays it atop a 9 minute orchestral epic all held together with those 61 beautiful voices.

The album, which seems an awfully pithy title to give such a collection, finishes with two dramatic pieces. Firstly, 'Movement VII (Enduring Memories From A Film)' plays out emotions derived from great moments of film on a bed of luscious strings, voices and, eventually, that singularly stunning Soprana. The final act of this drama is the mammoth 'Movement VIII (Pilgrimage)' which lasts for around 12 minutes and builds to a heart warming, soul stirring, hair prickling crescendo. 'An Anthology Of All Things' is an utter triumph and I take my hat off to everyone involved. From those who conceived of the day, all those who contributed creatively and to those who approved the funding for this creative tour de force. This is a great advert for so many things from community and collaboration to open-mindedness and boundary-ignoring. Most of all, it's a great advert for the power of music to unite, entertain and communicate - all it was ever meant to do.

* I can't be sure they are monks but they do make you think 'holy cow'.

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