Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra establishes disabled-led ensemble

Dorset orchestra forms ‘first ensemble of disabled musicians.’ Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is thought to be the first professional orchestra in the world to form an ensemble of disabled musicians. The group is led by a disabled conductor, James Rose, who has cerebral palsy. He does not have control of his arms so uses a baton attached to his head to lead the musicians. BBC News 18 March 2018

Katy Wright, Deputy Editor, Classical Music, Rhinegold Group 7 February 2018

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has become the first symphony orchestra to have a professional ensemble led by disabled musicians as a core part of its activities.

The ensemble will become a permanent part of the Orchestra’s output, and its musicians will be given performance opportunities, professional development, and will be paid professional rates. They will have the opportunity to perform not only as a standalone ensemble but also alongside the BSO, who will be learning new skills and accommodating the needs of the ensemble players and their disabilities.

The six musicians selected for the new disabled-led ensemble are: Siobhan Clough (violin/ viola), Phillip Howells (percussion), Roger Preston (cello), Kate Risdon (flute), Matthew Scott (clarinet) and Charlotte White (LinnStrument). All six musicians are of professional standard; three of them studied at London conservatoires and another is currently in her third year at the Royal Academy of Music.

BSO Change Maker and disabled conductor James Rose will conduct the ensemble in a series of public performances and workshops to disabled and non-disabled young people and adults held at special schools and venues across the South and South West.

Alexander Campkin, the ensemble’s composer-in-residence, will work closely with Rose and the ensemble, as well as writing commissioned works and running workshops. Lucy Hale, the ensemble’s young composer-in-association, will work closely with Campkin and have the opportunity to explore compositional approaches with him and the ensemble, as they develop together to understand how to write for the ensemble and incorporate players’ specific access requirements.

A name for the ensemble will be announced in due course.

‘It’s nice to have people expect more from you…’ conductor James Rose, centre, with members of BSO Resound, an ensemble of disabled musicians. Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

‘The BSO is delighted to welcome these incredibly talented musicians to the ensemble,’ said Dougie Scarfe, the Orchestra’s CEO. ‘I am extremely proud that the BSO is the first Orchestra in the world to have a professional disabled-led ensemble as a core part of its activities. I know that this new BSO ensemble will help promote diversity within the arts and society as a whole, making music more accessible to everyone.’

Arts Council England’s Change Makers fund aims to address the under-representation of black, minority ethnic and disabled people in the arts, as well as a significant donation from two private donors. Of the 20 successful applicants, the BSO is the only orchestra to receive funding, and also the only disabled-led music project in the country to receive funding through the scheme.

Soource Rhinegold Group

The British Paraorchestra: ‘Towards Harmony, A Musical Integration’ TRAILER. The British Paraorchestra. Youtube Aug 22, 2017

We are proud to share the trailer for The British Paraorchestra’s first short film documentary: “Towards Harmony, A Musical Integration” directed and produced by Phoebe Holman

Synopsis: People should be defined by their ability not their disability. In the music industry and most other industries, disabled people are poorly represented; sidelined, discriminated against and often invisible in some circumstances.The British Paraorchestra, the world’s first large-scale professional ensemble musicians with disabilities confronts this issue head-on, presenting world-class music experiences for the broadest range of audiences and demonstrating that disability is no barrier to talent.

The film takes in the journey of The British Paraorchestra, as they gear up to perform at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, as part of the Birmingham Classical Season. The concert, conducted by Charles Hazlewood (Artistic Director of The British Paraorchestra) showcases composer and musician Lloyd Coleman’s symphony Towards Harmony and is performed in collaboration with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The full documentary is currently on the film festival circuit with an aim to reach as wider international audience as possible. Full release date TBC.

This project was supported by:
Arts Council England
29th May 1961 Charitable Trust
CHK Charities
Garfield Weston

Charles Hazlewood: The British Paraorchestra. The Lost Lectures. Youtube Jan 7, 2014

Charles Hazlewood is co-founder of The British Paraorchestra, a pioneering orchestra and a global movement that recognises and showcases disabled musicians with extraordinary abilities. It’s an orchestra with a mission to level the playing field of musical excellence and end the limitations placed on individuals, not by their physical ability but by lack of opportunity.

In this powerful and compelling talk and performance, Founder Charles Hazlewood discusses the importance of levelling the playing field of musical excellence and ending the limitations placed on individuals, not by their physical ability but by lack of opportunity. His talk culminates in a stirring performance from two musicians from the orchestra: Stephanie West on Harp and Gemma Lunt on Saxophone who demonstrate just the type of incredible talent the orchestra is designed to nurture, develop and showcase. A huge thanks to the British Paraorchestra as well as The Worshipful Company of Musicians, who helped make their participation possible.

Also see
Batons not barriers: The disabled musicians coming to the proms The Guardian
The BSO welcomes the six musicians in its new disabled-led ensemble Bournemonth Symphony Orchestra
Change Makers Bournemonth Symphony Orchestra
The founding members of BSO Resound, the BSO’s disabled-led ensemble, PDF in Bournemonth Symphony Orchestra
Music education should be inclusive. So where are the disabled teachers? The Guardian

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