School of Media academic earns award nomination for work with recovery orchestra

School of Media deputy Head of School Conall Gleeson, has been nominated for a British Composer Award for his collaboration with a Brighton-based orchestra that supports people in recovery from drug and substance abuse.

New Note Orchestra is described as “the first recovery orchestra in the world”.

Conall Gleeson, Deputy Head of Quality and Standards at the University’s School of Media, is on the shortlist for the ‘Community or Educational Project’ prize for his audio-visual live work Solace, which features a score by the orchestra. Solace premiered at the 2017 CINECITY film festival.

The film features members of the orchestra speaking of their recovery from addiction as well as their childhood and adolescence alongside footage from Screen Archive South East at the University of Brighton. The NNO performs its own music compositions that are developed through workshops led by Conall.

Reacting to his nomination for the award, the winner of which will be announced at the British Museum on December 4, Conall said: “The nomination is a fantastic recognition for New Note Orchestra and their ability to collectively make music.

“I play a role in facilitating their music but Solace is a work that tells their story of recovery through their musical ideas and performance.”

New Note Orchestra has found that improvised music-making helps participants develop interpersonal skills that support recovery by working against feelings of isolation and rejection that often accompany addiction and drug abuse. Over the past two years NNO has been supported by the Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP).

Of NNO, Conall said: “For its members the orchestra has proved critical to their recovery. Many have attempted to remain sober or drug-free but have experienced periods of repeated relapse.

“We have found that people who remain with the orchestra sustain their recovery or go for longer periods without relapse. A significant aspect of this form of recovery is that it enables people to self-identify as creatives and musicians rather than as addicts or alcoholics.”

The British Composer Awards promote the art of composition, recognising the creative talent of composers and sound artists and bringing their music to a wider audience. The event is sponsored by Performing Rights for Music and will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3.

New Note Orchestra are currently developing a new audio-visual work entitled A Sense of Place. The film reflects on the places that have been important to the members of NNO in their journeys to recovery.

The premiere of A Sense of Place takes place at Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne on November 24 as part of CINECITY festival. The orchestra will perform a live soundtrack. They will also be in concert at St Luke’s Church in Brighton on 2 December.

For more information about the NNO’s upcoming events and their work in general, visit:




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