The British Paraorchestra 2011

Rolf Gehlhaar, Charles Hazlewood (Producer), What Larks! Productions Ltd. (Artist)

    Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchPerformance

    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    Author's note: - Significance -

    The British Paraorchestra was principally founded as a result of a collaboration in 2011 between Charles Hazlewood, the What Larks! production company and the author. The objectives were to create the first professional orchestra of musicians with a disability, to develop a place for it in the cultural ‘market’ and to invent and provide the assistive technology that some of the musicians would require, with a long term goals of raising the profile of disabled musicians and – through the development of assistive technology - making music a career prospect of the disabled young. It is the first such orchestra in the nation.
    Rigour and Originality -
    Via comprehensive auditions, the membership of the orchestra has grown from 4 to 18 musicians during the past year, many of them with very distinguished careers that were threatened or extinguished by their disability. Three of the current members are severely disabled, requiring extensive assistive technology, in part created and currently maintained by the author, who is also the amplification supervisor. The three different assistive technologies consists of specially developed sensors, computer interfaces and musical graphic user interfaces. The sensors allow the person – with quadriplegia or some similar sever disability - to interact with a computer. The graphic user interfaces create a musical instrument on the computers display. The resulting instruments are highly flexible, complex and must be learned by the player. The Intention is, via assistive technology, to create a ‘level playing field’. The highpoint of the orchestra’s Olympic year was a collaboration with Coldplay for the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympics.
    As a result of our extensive activities during our first year – some dozen high-profile performances and recordings – the orchestra is fast developing national renown, with new requests for membership and offers of technical support arriving almost weekly. It is the first such orchestra and its members intend to develop the idea, both nationally and internationally, and further more, to develop its contribution to the field of assistive technologies.
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