DAN Blomfield had been out of rehab for six months when he spotted a leaflet advertising an orchestra for recovering addicts, and took his guitar along.

“I was feeling like I needed to get a network of like-minded friends," he said.

"And I left rehab feeling like I wanted to do a lot more music.

“The orchestra was just very open – there was no pressure to be good, no pressure to play a certain way, and it is very inclusive. It felt very comfortable.

“I ended up playing and having a jam with the orchestra and listening.”

Over the next few months, as he continued playing with the New Note Orchestra, the music prised open a creativity he feared he had lost.

“Coming out of addiction you can sort of end up being very depressed,” he said.

“And the opposite of depression really is curiosity and creativity, and music just activated a different part of my brain.

“It’s brilliant, really brilliant; you can really feel the euphoria. It's like peeling back surfaces and discovering stuff.”

Mr Blomfield, who lives in Brighton, is now among 15 or so regular players in the orchestra, the world’s first for people recovering from drug and alcohol problems.

Brighton resident Molly Mathieson quit her successful career as a TV producer to set up the orchestra last year.

She did so after seeing how music helped recovering addicts while working on the Channel 4 programme Addicts' Symphony, in which she and recovering alcoholic James McConnell put on a huge classical concert with musicians whose lives had been blighted by addiction.

“The performance was so moving that everyone was crying and I said, I am going to do this, to set up a charity,” she said.

From there she went to The School for Social Entrepreneurs, in London, before holding a pilot day for the orchestra in Brighton in July last year.

“I was expecting about four people,” she said. “But it was so successful. About 20 people walked through the door.

"It was good - really, really good. We did a bit of experimentation of how we were going to get people to play together and all the musical ideas. And we did a lot of improvisation.”

The orchestra now meets once a week for rehearsals at St Luke's Church, Brighton, with players of all abilities helped by musical director Patrick Harrex, an award-winning composer.

“We have all sorts of musicians," Ms Mathieson added.

“Quite a lot of guitarists and a very big percussion section and some singers, so it is an eclectic mix.

“Having regular meet-ups is key; there is the sense that we are building a community and we find that the musicians really support each other.

“They can be really creative in a non-judgemental place and everybody has a place to contribute their ideas in a safe environment.”

Rather than playing other people's music, the orchestra composes its own music during rehearsals.

They build up to four annual concerts.

The second for this year is tomorrow (Sunday), with special musical guests Mark Edwards and Jali.

The emphasis is on individualism, creativity and inclusiveness, and Ms Mathieson says the atmosphere often touches on spiritual.

“I think there is something about doing it in a group environment; you are really listening to everyone else,” she said.

“There is that sense that you are not thinking about everything else or what is going on in your life, as you are having to listen to what is going on in the room.

“So that makes it very meditative; it can feel really almost like a spiritual experience.

“I am not a religious woman, but definitely it feels quite spiritual – it’s quite hard to describe.

“I think it is because you are not living in your head, you have to listen to everyone else in the room.”

The evidence certainly suggests that music, and this orchestra in particular, does help recovering addicts stay that way.

Singer Jo Barnett, 40, from Lewes Road, Brighton, said it had certainly done so for her.

She spiralled into alcoholism amid huge amounts of stress, but is now in recovery and composes songs while on walks with her guide dog.

She is due to sing one of her songs, a bluesy number about the ravages of drink, at tomorrow's concert, also at St Luke's church.

“My life just disappeared so quickly with the addiction,” she said. "It was horrendous.

"Then joining this and being accepted and having that freedom is lovely.

“When you are stressed and you start drinking, it's to flatten your pain.

"But you cannot just flatten your pain, so you flatten everything else as well.

“Doing this is like becoming awake.”

She and Mr Blomfield also agree there is something they like about the non-therapy style of help being in the orchestra provides.

“New Note does not sit you down and make you talk about yourself,” said Jo.

“I think sometimes if you go for art therapy or music therapy you get all these exercises and they have been trained.

"You can see it in their eyes they are clearly in charge and want to bring it out of you.”

Mr Blomfield said: “It’s not like group therapy when you go around the room and talk about how you are feeling.

"It is not like that at all. It’s natural. If you sense someone is not quite right, you can go and have a quick chat with them in the break.”

As to what it is like to be in recovery from addiction, he took a long pause before replying.

“It is really hard,” he said. “Because you have to kind of get to know who you are and get to know yourself.”

Ms Mathieson now hopes to expand the orchestra and replicate the project elsewhere.

Last month the New Note Orchestra made it to number five on the Observer’s and Nesta’s New Radicals 2016 list of radical-thinking individuals and organisations changing the UK for the better.

“I absolutely love the orchestra and wish I had done it years ago,” Ms Mathieson said.

“It is amazing just to watch everybody grow musically and produce new pieces of music.

“That’s the thing – just realising that there is all this talent and willingness.

“People keep telling me that I am radical but I think I had an idea, could see that it would work, and just felt compelled to do it.”