Eclectic, passionate, fun. How else to describe the nearly 20 strong ensemble, the UK’s first-ever national orchestra for professional musicians with disabilities? With a huge variety of instruments, widespread musical cultures and a lively conductor, the Paraorchestra is both an exciting musical exploration and a platform for professional disabled musicans.

Charles Hazlewood was inspired to start the orchestra after his daughter was born with cerebral palsy. As a result of this introduction into the world of disability, he noticed how few disabled musicians he’d met through his work as a conductor and set out to change this.

Around half the members are blind and one quarter use wheelchairs. Although fully able in daily life, Steph is proud to take part in this project as someone born with macrodactyly, a congenital hand deformity.

Rehearsing intensely since May 2012, the Paraorchestra is now hard at work improvising, devising new pieces, recording and performing. Over time, a unique sound is slowly emerging: many accents, one message.

Official website: www.paraorchestra.com
Photo of debut performance at Orchestra in a Field Festival, July 2012. Photo taken by soprano Kathryn Rudge – kathrynrudge.com