Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra establishes disabled-led ensemble

11:58, 7th February 2018

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has become the first symphony orchestra in the world 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.

‘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.


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