The British ParaOrchestra ... yes that is right an orchestra of 17 musicians with disabilities. Conductor, Charles Hazelwood, realised that there was no musical platform for people with disabilities, who were highly accomplished at their art.
|Charles Hazelwood with his daughter|
c/o The Standard
Channel 4, our broadcaster for the Paralympics, was persuaded to produce a documentary following the formation of this orchestra ... which I watched prior to the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, at which this ParaOrchestra performed. Talk about uplifting, and yet another strand to the ‘Para’ brand ...
Hazelwood was inspired by his sister and daughter, both with disabilities, but who are musically very talented – so he was aware of possibilities, aware there were ‘none for people who do not fit into the norm’, yet music is “universal”.
|Charlotte White c/o Channel 4|
The TED Conference in Edinburg in July 2011 was the formation point ... where he explained that the ParaOrchestra was not intended to be a therapeutic or “warm and fuzzy” project, but rather a platform to showcase disabled musicians with virtuosic qualities.
Auditions were held to find people who were “at the top of their game, technically, and with a spirit behind that virtuosity”. Seventeen such musicians were pinpointed, who without music in their lives would not be able to fulfil themselves ... their creativity and desire moved my couch potato eyes.
|Two members of the Paraorchestra c/o Classic FM|
This small beginning for the British ParaOrchestra it is hoped will lead to many more opportunities for all peoples regardless of their situations ... they all stood out as supreme performers, and the light in their eyes, their attitude to their inclusion, their expressions of freedom that music gives them ... which they can now share with many.
All the musicians deserve attention and the Wiki page gives some more detail – but honestly what a story ... a lesson for us all to be aware of everyone’s possibilities and needs – disabled, and those severely ill people ... i.e. stroked patients ... who cannot communicate fully or properly anymore ... that spark is still within them.
|Nicholas McCarthy - Royal College of Music|
We live in an age where anything around the human spirit is possible ... the Paralympic athletes have shown what can be done ...physical or mental impairment does not stop anyone performing to their creative maximum – as those dancers, singers, zip-wire exponents, service heroes showed us in the two Ceremonies ... and now to showcase a few extremely talented musicians ...
· Nicholas McCarthy, a one-handed (left) pianist who recently graduated from the Royal College of Music – had been told ‘no you can’t’ ....
· Clarence Adoo, a former jazz trumpet player who was paralysed below the shoulders after a car accident (and now plays an instrument known as “Headspace”, which is controlled by breath and head motions) ....
Clarence described this experience as though he had his life back, it freed his head ... he could play music again – think of that freedom, that relief from constrainment he must have had since his accident ... he could express himself both verbally and musically (what an upliftment) ... he had been longing to play music again ...
· Lyn Levett, who is severely physically restricted – yet music is her life .... here she’s been able to use a Macintosh to play what Charles Hazelwood describes as refreshingly “dizzyingly creative” electronic music ...
Lyn plays using her nose!! And through the ParaOrchestra is working with electronic music experts ....
|Lynn Levett with her boyfriend and her Mac|
There’s a viola player confined to a wheelchair, blind members include a violinist, a keyboard player, a recorder expert, a lute player, and multi-instrumenatlists ....
The Paralympian Anthem was played by the ParaOrchestra at the Closing Ceremony ... I think the aspect that made the most impact for me ... was the freedom these musicians were given ... via their music ... which as Charles Hazelwood said is universal.
- c/o Newcastle and North East Journal
We’ve all experienced periods of ‘severe stress’ in our lives, where life constrains us due to circumstances (inconsequential in the scheme of things for us able bodied folk) – yet many of the paralympians – be they athletes, creative artists, musicians ... have felt the same, and have escaped those constraints ...
... which leads me on to my mother, who was severely stroked, but able to talk and thus use her brain – she might have been confined to bed and not able to, nor wanting to watch tv, or listen to the radio, could not read – yet could (more than!) fully engage if and when she was given the opportunity.
|Takashi Kikushi playing his violin|
c/o Classic FM
I wonder if we shouldn’t take into account everyone’s possibilities at whatever stage of life they are, due to whatever circumstances ... all humans have souls – which translate to desires and needs ...
Carers too get constrained ... the volunteers at these Games have made an incredible impact on everyone, probably particularly on themselves and their families ... then there are the carers with jobs, the carers who care (relatives) and volunteer –
|The ParaOrchestra waiting to perform at|
Glastonbury - c/o Channel 4
... that little extra that we can bring to others’ lives will make our own worlds easier, and may with your extra talent make others’ lives much happier and/or more settled and accepting of circumstances. Think of others (at all times) – seems a good maxim – and I know we’d all add with a smile!!
Wikipedia Page: British ParaOrchestra
Channel 4 programme on formation of ParaOrchestra and article
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories