• “CREATING WORLD-CLASS CONTEMPORARY MUSIC EXPERIENCES”
  • “REMOVING BARRIERS TO MUSIC-MAKING FOR DISABLED ARTISTS”
  • quoted from website


“The British ParaOrchestra, based in London, is an orchestra consisting entirely of musicians with disabilities—the first ever orchestra of its kind in the United Kingdom. The ParaOrchestra was formed by conductor Charles Hazlewood in 2011 as a project to create a platform for the top disabled musicians, with the hope that its success would lead to better integration of the disabled into music and performing arts. The orchestra performed its first live show at Glastonbury Abbey in July 2012 , and received international attention when it played alongside Coldplay during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London in September 2012.

“Charles Hazlewood was inspired by his youngest daughter Eliza to form the ParaOrchestra; Eliza suffers from cerebral palsy, but Hazlewood believed that she was still an “outstanding” singer. Being the father of a child with a disability, he realized that throughout his career as an orchestral conductor, he had seen few disabled performers as members of orchestras. Hazlewood felt that since music is ‘universal’, an orchestra should represent all members of a community—comparing this ordeal to the time when only men performed in orchestras. He felt that an orchestra consisting only of disabled performers could spread awareness of this issue and help achieve greater integration for the disabled in music and the performing arts.

“Hazlewood officially announced the formation of the British ParaOrchestra in July 2011 at a TED conference in Edinburgh. He did not intend the ParaOrchestra to be a therapeutic or ‘warm and fuzzy’ project, but rather a platform to showcase disabled musicians with virtuosic qualities. When holding auditions, he aimed to find musicians who were ‘at the top of their game, technically, and with a spirit behind the virtuosity.’ The orchestra’s first 17 members come from a variety of backgrounds and use a variety of instruments, including conventional instruments and electronic devices such as tablet computers and other assistive technology developed by Rolf Gehlhaar, Professor in Experimental Music at Coventry University and the technical director of the orchestra. After failing to partner with the BBC, Hazlewood successfully commissioned British broadcaster Channel 4 to produce a documentary following the formation of the ParaOrchestra and its first performance, which aired on 9 September 2012. He felt airing its documentary on Channel 4 was a “no-brainer”, as it was also the official broadcaster of the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

“The ParaOrchestra made its first public appearance on 1 July 2012 during Hazlewood’s music festiva Orchestra in a Field at Glastonbury Abbey; the performance included its versions of Greensleeves and Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. The orchestra’s style incorporates a large amount of improvisation, intended to allow the orchestra to feel a sense of “collective ownership” of their performances.” courtesy of Wikipedia

HERE is the link to Charles Hazelwood’s TED presentation Trusting the Ensemble, which includes discussion of the ParaOrchestra and a delightful performance of the Scottish Ensemble. It’s twenty-minutes and recommended.

And now the British ParaOrchestra in performance supporting Cold Play at the 2012 ParaOlympics … you may want to grab a tissue …

– complied by Jamie Dedes

2 thoughts on “The Orchestra of Impossible Beauty

  1. Love, love, love this. And trust them to pick that song … True Colours; so right. I love to see people making music, especially those whose normal access to music would be inhibited. Lovely and very appropriate piece, Jamie.

    Like

Discussion is welcome! Thank you ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s