Benji Bower & The Terra Collective Orchestra announce release of ‘Terra Coda’

Benji Bower unites Bristol’s most acclaimed musicians to form a 60-piece ensemble, The Terra Collective Orchestra. Together, they present their debut album, ‘Terra Coda’, an orchestral ode to Earth, releasing on Friday 11th October.

Listen to double single “Artemis / Whale Lament” HERE

Pre-order ‘Terra Coda’ HERE

Watch the “Artemis” video, directed by Adam Laity on Benji Bower’s YouTube channel WATCH

‘Terra Coda’ has been a lifelong project for Benji, intertwining exceptional musical depth with his unwavering commitment to pivotal environmental concerns. Conceptually rich, it explores musical, political and environmental dimensions, reflecting Benji’s journey and meticulous attention to detail. The Terra Collective Orchestra boasts an impressive array of experience, having worked for, produced, engineered or toured with renowned artists such as The Heritage Orchestra, Portishead, Bonobo, PJ Harvey, Massive Attack, This Is The Kit, Alice Russell, Anoushka Shankar, Peter Gabriel, Elbow, Madness, John Rutter, Sam Cooke, John Williams, Cinematic Orchestra, Paraorchestra and many more. The collective debuted in May 2022 with a three-night residency in Bristol at “The Mount Without”, part of the Mayfest Arts Festival. This residency, featuring 50 orchestra members, sold out every night with 200-250 attendees. Following this success, they performed at the Falmouth Arts Festival, delivering two sold-out shows for 300 people each night, again with 50 performers.

The double single “Artemis / Whale Lament” served as the first offering from the album. “Artemis” embodies Benji’s profound empathy during a period when his close friend’s mother was terminally ill. In contrast, “Whale Lament” draws inspiration from the wisdom of old age, the grandeur of whales and the interplay between tension and tranquility. This release was followed by “Leviathan” featuring Harriet Riley, which delves into themes of grief and is inspired by the sea and its vast wonders. The album’s closing track, “Perpetuus” featuring Melanie Marshall, is described by Benji as “the most immense and emboldening piece I have ever written and performed.”

“Love Letter” features the talents of artist and producer Kathleen Frances. With a history of collaborative writing, this track is the only song on the album not exclusively written by Benji. He characterises the song as “beautiful yet crushing”, describing it as a heartfelt apology to the earth that delves into themes of love, passion, sorrow, confusion, solitude and youth. Kathleen’s lyricism embodies a raw and poignant style, mirrored in her delicate vocal delivery, which consistently left Benji astounded.

‘Terra Coda’ is a portmanteau that elegantly combines “Terra”, resonating with the Latin for ‘earth’ and “Coda”, a musical term signifying both conclusion and genesis, therefore embodying the orchestral resonance of earthly endings, new beginnings and transformative symphonies. Framed by the Taoist five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – ‘Terra Coda’ is interconnected, relating to all aspects of human nature and our environment. Benji elaborates on his creative process explaining “each element holds an emotional characteristic”. Wood embodies the cycle of birth, youth, vision, frustration and growth. Fire ignites emotions of love, passion, sadness, confusion and isolation. Earth resonates with integrity, worry, empathy, intention and transformation. Metal represents the weight of grief, the act of letting go, justice, inspiration and the paternal role. Water flows with the wisdom of old age, the fears that come with it, moments of calm, the vastness of the sea and the cycle of rebirth, akin to the nurturing embrace of a mother.

Benji began curating The Terra Collective Orchestra after receiving the Develop Your Creative Practice (DYCP) grant from Arts Council England (ACE). Drawing on local talent from the Bristol music scene, he enlisted the expertise of orchestra manager Anneka Sutcliffe to streamline operations. As compositions evolved, so did the scale of the sessions, culminating in a 25-piece string rehearsal to explore initial ideas. Recognising the need for further support, Benji enlisted assistance from renowned theatre producers Impossible-Producing, to secure a substantial ACE grant to bring the project to fruition.