Wednesday, 12 September 2012

British ParaOrchestra ...


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
graduate
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.

Clarence Adoo
 - 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


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories




46 comments:

D.G. Hudson said...

What a fantastic effort, Hilary, I admire the courage that some people have. Music can soothe, and live music can be felt.

Patsy said...

What a great idea - too look for people's talents rather than their disabilities seems very sensible.

nutschell said...

How awesome is this! I do admire these folks. Thanks for letting me know about the ParaOrchestra. So cool!

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Julia Hones said...

Beautiful inspiring post, Hilary.And very timely. I'm going to watch a movie about Helene Keller's life, and I will probably write about it on my blog.

Julia Hones said...

Thanks, Hilary. I read your comment from my inbox. I don't understand why your comment is not visible there. Yes, I will contact you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ DG - it's an incredible story of inspiration .. giving back to people who were born with a big challenge, or who've had an accident or disease in their life .. but music is what they live by .. so it was lovely to see them sparkle by the end ..

@ Patsy - absolutely we tend to say 'can't' / 'no' / 'don't' .. when it's possible to do just about anything if we set our mind.

@ Nutschell - so pleased you found the post inspiring and now are aware of their achievements ..

@ Julia - thanks for letting me know about Helene Keller's post when you do it .. glad you appreciated this post - amazing how much we can help others ..

Cheers everyone .. and thanks so much for coming by .. Hilary

Old Kitty said...

Oh I missed this documentary and I'm hoping 4OD will have it still!!

I've been a carer to my sister who had a disability and who is sadly no longer with us for most of my life so I do understand. Of all my family she was the most daring and adventurous and never ever let her disability disable her - rather she let it empower who she was!

Take care
x

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Such an inspiring post, Hilary! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What an incredible endeavor! This is the first I've ever heard about it.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Sounds quite wonderful and very inspiring. I might be able to get the doc on Netflix. They're slow coming, but the BBC has some terrific programs. I hope they air it again.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

This is wonderful! I love this!

Susanne Drazic said...

Wow, quite inspiring. Thank you for sharing about the ParaOrchestra.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

H Old Kitty - I'm sure 4 OD will still have it - it was only last Sunday afternoon ..

Well you do know a great deal about caring and the effects disability have .. yet how your sister showed she wasn't going to let anything stop her .. - she was EMPOWERED .. great word - so pleased you told us.

@ Elizabeth - delighted it's inspired you .. The orchestra has only been going less than a year ..

@ Alex - it's the first most of us have heard of them I think ... it's just so incredible what we can all do.

@ Joylene - the programme is brand new and comes from Channel 4 - not sure if they're on YouTube - never had time to check ... but not BBC this time. I'm sure it'll come on again - this was our first look.

@ Sharon - exactly the right word ... "wonderful" .. thanks!

@ Susanne - glad you appreciated the post ..

I knew everyone who comes here will enjoy and appreciate learning about them .. lovely to see you .. cheers Hilary

Ellie Garratt said...

A beautiful post and a lesson to us all in the determination of human spirit. Thank you for sharing this with us.

juliet said...

Hilary, this is a fabulous post, written with such passion and clarity. The message you are giving is very much the message of my new book on ageing:

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 ...

I love what you say. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I saw these guys at the closing ceremony - fantastic music!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

So inspiring! Thanks, Hilary!

Southpaw said...

What truly amazing people you've featured today.

Julie said...

Wow, what a touching post! I'd never heard of this orchestra before, how wonderful! And you are so right about taking into account everyone's possibilities, I think that is something we all need to do more of. We can miss so much otherwise, as this orchestra shows!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a beautiful post, Hilary. Music frees the soul, don't you think? So even though these musicians may be constrained by their physical limitations, they can still express themselves and let their souls soar.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ellie - don't they all just have so much determination to aspire no matter what ..

@ Juliet - I wondered if there might be a link across to your new book, when I was drafting the post I sort of had the concept of your book in mind and decided to broaden the scope from just not disability, but serious/terminal illness - from tiny tots to centenarians (or there abouts) ... "all humans have souls" ...

@ Annalisa - we were lucky to see them being included the Paralympic Closing Ceremony .. and what amazing music they make - adds yet another dimension ..

@ Amy - pleasure - it is, as you say, inspiring..

@ Holly - I couldn't agree more - these men and women have real hearts, their sheer determination and desire to contribute to life still .. it's eye opening ..

@ Julie - it's so new - their first concert was at Glastonbury this year I think .. They are really breaking new ground with the opportunities for others at all levels of ability to play, or disabilities of the body in life ..

We all can do more - and inspire everyone around us to take into account everyone's possibilities regardless of their situation - so true, as you express it here ..

@ Susan - music does free the soul - absolutely so well said ...

Cheers everyone - thanks for commenting .... Hilary

Ciara said...

What a beautiful thing to do. I was sad that the paraolympics were not televised here in the states.

Susan Scheid said...

Hilary: I'm so pleased you alerted me to this post. The human spirit can transcend so many difficulties! I'm reminded by this of something Molly Joyce, the young composer I'm featuring right now in my current post, wrote about one of her early musical memories:
Probably playing Suzuki violin in kindergarten with an amazing teacher who was very encouraging and enthusiastic. I then remember switching from violin to cello when I started second grade because of a car accident which caused trauma to my left hand. Since I was no longer able to play the violin, I remember the music teachers at my school looking at me funny like, “what are we going to do with her,” and then they figured out that with a cast on the bow I could play cello backwards! I fingered with my right hand and bowed with my left, with the strings on the cello strung backwards. I was definitely different from all the other kids, but it was also a great way to always be on the end of the stage at those ever exciting elementary school music concerts. You can see the post by clicking here.

Susan Scheid said...

Hilary: Just as an FYI, I am unable to post a comment showing my WordPress URL. I know there is a way to allow for that, though it may require you to permit anonymous comments also, which I'd understand if you're not comfortable doing.

Mark Koopmans said...

Hey Hilary,

Totally needed this post to remind me my issues are nothing compared to the challenges faced by some... and when *they* can overcome to succeed, well I can bloody well do it, too :)

Cheers :)

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,
I was thrilled when I first became aware of the British ParaOrchestra. Indeed, another example that we need to see the abilities and not be clouded by the stigma that has been attached to disabilities.
This new awareness will triumph in a deeply profound way.
And the carers, the volunteers should be applauded for all they do in the most discreet and unassuming way.
My dear friend, an eloquent posting that echoes with the ideals of us all being in this together.
Have a lovely, peaceful weekend.
Penny the Jack Russell and co-starring, Gary :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

This shows the value of every single person no matter what their disability. Thank you for an inspiring post!

Blessings,
Susan :)

scarlett clay said...

Bravo! I LOVED reading about this. Yes, uplifting is right! Some things in this world are so wonderful. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ciara - I think there's been a bit of criticism in the media about the lack of coverage in the States - it was an amazing Games - the Paralympians have come of age in recognition .. long may it last and we see more of what they can do....

@ Susan - separate reply following!

@ Mark - I thought you might relate! So many others have to over come so, so much .. and if we can remember that ... our lives are relatively smooth, then we can also help others who suffer far more. Good luck with your marathon!

@ Gary (and Penny!) ... I hope we can see people for what they are and what they can do - they all do much more than I do.

I sincerely hope you are right "This new awareness should triumph in a deeply profound way" ...

.... then you add "and the carers, the volunteers should be applauded for all they do in the most discreet and unassuming way."

Your comment completely echoes and adds to my thoughts ... just so true ..

We are all humans and we are in life together, no matter our disabilities and we all have them.

@ Susan - you are so right and I totally agree - we all have tremendous value in life in so many ways ...

@ Scarlett - you might be able to see this when you are over ... if you have time - when you are at the Cockayne Syndrome conference in Chester ... so pleased you had a chance to get here ..your trip is only a week away (less now) ..

Thanks so much - delighted you all enjoyed the posting - it's wonderful to be amongst such caring folk ... have lovely weekends - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan (Scheid!) .. housekeeping bit first - I thought you'd enjoy this article and the knowledge about the Orchestra with your considerable musical / literary talents ..

No-one's URL shows - but if we click your name it goes into your Blogger (!) User profile page and there we can find your web page, which links to your new Wordpress page. (Same for everyone ..)

Susan's blog is http://prufrocksdilemma.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/this-composing-life/

Where Susan highlight's Molly Joyce - a cello player/composer .. who was also injured in a car accident and subsequently had to adapt her music playing .. please click over to read Susan's post ..

Susan - great example for this post - it's fantastic WHAT CAN BE DONE .. forget that word 'can't' ...

Lovely to see you - and your blog is such an educative process .. I love it and one day I shall spend a great deal of time there .. listening and reading to all your suggestions (via the links) provided.

Fantastic to see you ... and reading about Molly - incredibly talented lady.

Cheers Hilary

cleemckenzie said...

Your post should be read by people who complain they aren't slim enough, not smart enough, not happy enough. What an inspiration for all of us who might fall into the pity pit.

Thanks Hilary.

prufrocksdilemma said...

Hilary: Thanks so much for the FYI re finding the new site. A bit circuitous, but at least it works. More to the point, it's lovely of you to highlight Molly Joyce. A remarkable young woman, as are the people you write about here.

prufrocksdilemma said...

Not to clog up your inbox, but I see now how to link the name directly to the new blog. Thanks for the tips, which are what got me there!

Karen Lange said...

Yes, I love this, looking at the real person - talents and character.
Thank you, Hilary, for sharing this.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Karen

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lee - I agree there too, and look at life differently and I think to myself get on with what I want to do the only person who puts barriers up is me for my life.

@ Susan - I don't know how you did what you did .. but Prufrock comes up this time. I'll be over to ask in a few weeks ...

The cello player and her turn-around as a child ... so ably helped by her teachers ... is such a good story to append here - so appropriate.

@ Karen - we need to make time to connect with so many and then we can definitely see talents and character .. so pleased you obviously relish everyone's lives.

Thanks Lee, Susan and Karen .. have peaceful Sundays .. cheers Hilary

deborahjbarker said...

Ah, I wish I had seen that documentary. It was certainly amazing to see those athletes in the Paralympics and brought it home to one how many of us are disabled in one way or another. The games must have inspired so many both able bodied and disabled. I will look out for a repeat of that documentary. Thank you :-)

kathrynmagendie said...

We live in an age where anything around the human spirit is possible >>>>> so true! A wonderful inspiring post!

Linda said...

Each person as an individual is more than just what we see on the surface. It is good to be reminded of that.

Nas said...

Fantastic and inspiring post. For the first time Fiji won a gold medal- and guess what? A ParaOlympian did it for Fiji. So I guess it is the character and the talent that counts.

Thank you, Hilary, for sharing this.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Deniz Bevan said...

Wow, thanks for spotlighting these amazing musicians, Hilary. I've bought calendars and cards made by foot and mouth painters before, but I hadn't known about musicians!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deborah - I'm sure it will be shown again, and/or an update broadcast. You're right in that we're all disabled ... we, as so called able-bodied, don't see do we! The Paralympics seems to have opened our eyes ... to what can be done, if nothing else ..

@ Kat - many thanks ... it has been inspiring to see what can be done ..

@ Linda - it's extraordinary how much they can achieve ... and we are 'us' not what the surface shows.

@ Nas - brilliant news that Fiji won a gold medal .. and it was a Paralympian ... talent and character - the groundforce of realising our potential .. delighted you enjoyed the post.

@ Deniz - so pleased you enjoyed this post .. it's realising what can be done by any of us .. isn't it ..

Good to see you all - cheers Hilary

Sanny said...

Music brings people together and it's also a good therapy. My brother has autism, and so I know how hard it is for him to be accepted. People often don't wanna talk to him because he is 'different'. But music brings us all together. Every person can make music, so giving these guys a platform is a wonderful thing.
I mean we all can lose an arm, or a leg, it can happen to us, too, and we don't wanna be excluded then.
Give them a chance to be seen and heard. I guess they are amazing musicians.

Thanks for that wonderful post!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Hi! (Or should I say "cheers!"?) Thanks for leaving the links on my blog about Brooklands and the Riley. Interesting stuff. I really appreciate it. (Small world, huh?)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sanny - nice to meet you - and interesting to hear your first-hand experience with your brother, yet you and others have that connective with him through music ..

They are all extraordinary musicians once again ... and exactly as you say that chance to be seen and heard ..

Thanks so much for your lovely comment ..

@ Susan - glad you enjoyed the links .. thought you might relate - and they are appropriate for your post about the Fayre with its many wonderful vintage cars ...

Small world as you say ... too true there ...

Cheers Sanny and Susan - lovely to see you both .. Hilary

Julia Hones said...

Hilary: my post about Helen Keller is on my blog now. You can comment. If your comment is not visible, don't worry. It will come to my e-mail and I will read it and add it. I have no clue why this happens. I am not a techno savvy person.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Julia - many thanks .. I've been over to comment - her story is well known, but I wonder how many of us have read her book .. your review certainly highlights that we could all do with reading it ..

Here's the link .. if anyone would like to read Julia's post:

http://juliahoneswritinglife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/helen-kellers-life-movie-and-her-book.html

Embedded commenting in some instances seems to be working - and it did over at your blog this time ..

Cheers Hilary