A beautiful tribute to Louis Braille and a fascinating look at how blind musicians work together to create music in this wonderful documentary that hits all the high notes!
Braille, a reading system invented in France in 1824, made it possible for the blind to read. But did you know it also allowed them to read music?
French educator Louis Braille, who created the system, was also a musician and he adapted it for other blind musicians to use. It opened the door for visually impaired people to learn what the great composers has written for the world as musical classics. In this fascinating documentary, American filmmaker Michael House brings together six blind musicians, ranging in age from 17 to 65, in London to record a tribute to Louis Braille. Braille Music gives a glimpse of the hard work that goes into rehearsals and recordings and shows top-class musicians practising their craft.
The film also takes an emotional trip to Paris to learn more about the remarkable story of Braille’s inventor. Blind due to a childhood accident, Louis Braille devised the revolutionary system when he was only 15 years old. Though he had a successful career as a teacher, his method would be used in education only after his death.
Braille Music is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at how music is made and is a must-see for music lovers and history enthusiasts alike.
Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes
Dialogues in English with Cantonese Dubbing, Chinese and English subtitles
Approx 1 hr 20 mins
Dialogues in English, with Cantonese Dubbing, Audio Description in Chinese and English, Chinese and English subtitles
Six blind professional musicians ranging in age from 17 to 65 come together in a London recording studio to create and record a musical tribute to Louis Braille. The film reveals the musical life of the famous inventor of the tactile reading and writing system which bears his name. Featuring an all-blind cast on camera, an international group of visually impaired musicians, historians and music professionals come together to share and pay tribute to the blind French 19th century musician and educator whose invention changed the world forever.
Word: Emily Dickinson
Music: Zoe Dixon
Hope is a song written by composer Zoe Dixon. She sets to music the famous poem by Emily Dickinson, arranging a work for piano, voice, lute, recorder, flute, clarinet and tabla. The song was written to honour Louis Braille.
The film documents the creation of Hope, which is composed, rehearsed and recorded entirely using braille. The song is performed by an all-blind group of professional musicians in London. All proceeds from the song sales were given to a UK charity which helps young blind musicians.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
And sweetest in the Gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest Sea;
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
– Emily Dickinson
Art is not limited to visual media. In fact, I feel artists who work in non-visual media, such as music, tap into things the eye only skims the surface of. The Little Prince’s maxim—“what is essential is invisible to the eye”—is, in my opinion, certainly the case with art. Working with the artists making Braille Music was wonderful, and the fact they all had a visual impairment was not my motivation for making this film; it was rather the passion, creativity and professionalism of these musicians which interested me in the project and which made the experience so gratifying for me. I really just pressed record on the camera and they made the magic happen. As with any professional, those in this film use tools that help them succeed; in this case the tool is braille, which is one of humankind’s greatest inventions. I hope that you forget that this film features only blind people; I hope you forget that because you are moved and interested in them as artists, not as blind people.
Director and Producer
Filmmaker, composer and musician Michael House is from California but has lived in France and the UK for more than 20 years. Braille Music is House’s eighth feature-length documentary. His films have been screened in dozens of countries and at international festivals such as Telluride in Colorado and the BFI London Film Festival.
Matthew Wadsworth studied lute at London’s Royal Academy of Music with Nigel North, and also at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. He has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at many major concert halls and festivals in the UK, Europe and North America. Wadsworth’s collaborations with singers include sopranos Carolyn Sampson, Julia Doyle and Emma Kirkby, counter-tenor Christopher Ainslie, tenor James Gilchrist and baritone Peter Harvey.
In July 2018, Wadsworth gave the first performances of a new concerto for theorbo, written for him by composer Stephen Goss. This included the premiere in Hong Kong in 2018, and performances with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Northern Chamber Orchestra.
Soprano Victoria Oruwari is a Nigerian-born, London-based singer whose versatile repertoire covers art songs, operatic arias, songs from musical theatre, traditional folksongs and jazz. Oruwari has performed with the British Paraorchestra, the Perth Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and has played Mrs Peachum in Graeae Theatre’s production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera. She has been featured in a documentary by Attitude Pictures about her life and her music and also sang at the Attitude Trust Awards Night in Auckland, New Zealand, where she was accompanied by the Royal Navy Brass Band.
Baluji Shrivastav is one of the greatest instrumentalists India has ever produced, excelling in sitar, surbahar, dilruba, pakhavaj and tabla. He has composed for film, dance and theatre and also original works for Western orchestra and Indian ensembles. Called the “sitarist to the stars” by London’s Evening Standard, he has recorded with Massive Attack, Madness, Doves, Shakira, Stevie Wonder, among others.
He has also recorded several albums with his own jazz ensemble, Jazz Orient/Re-Orient. He established the Baluji Music Foundation in 2008 to recognise and support blind musicians. For his services to music, Shrivastav was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List in 2016.
Recorder player James Risdon has performed at King’s Place, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Regent Hall, The Handel House Museum and the Treasury Music Society in London. He has also appeared as soloist with the Prague Chamber Orchestra, Czech Virtuosi, and London Musici.
His work with the Great British Paraorchestra has seen him perform at venues including the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the Bristol Planetarium, at a TED Talk in Brussels and at the 2012 Paralympic closing ceremony with Coldplay. He is also himself a former Paralympian, having been part of the Great Britain goalball team at the 1996 games in Atlanta.
- Director/Story Editor
- Michael House
- Marc Aufrant
David Aprahamian Liddle
- Michael House
- Executive Producer
- Mike House
- Associate Producer
- Sarah Vermande
- Zoe Dixon
- Ella Finch
- Film Editing
- Michael House
- Sound Mixer
- John Lee Anthony Scott
- Music Supervisors
- Peter Bosher
- Ella Finch
- Cantonese Dubbing
- Voasia Production Co.
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