Back

UK orchestra forms disabled-led ensemble

February 7, 2018 by norman lebrecht

7 comments.


Message received:

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra becomes the first symphony orchestra in the world to
have a professional ensemble led by disabled musicians as a core part of its activities 

Following auditions in November 2017, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra today announces the six founding musicians of its new disabled-led ensemble; Siobhan Clough(violin/ viola), Phillip Howells (percussion), Roger Preston (cello), Kate Risdon (flute), Matthew Scott (clarinet) and Charlotte White (LinnStrument).

The six disabled musicians chosen to be part of the ensemble are all of professional standard. Three of the ensemble studied at London conservatoires (Guildhall, Trinity Laban and Royal Academy of Music) and Siobhan Clough (violin/viola) is currently in her third year at the RAM.  BSO’s ensemble will become a permanent part of the Orchestra’s output, and the 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.

These musicians will be working alongside the ensemble conductor James Rose as well as Alexander Campkin, the ensemble’s Composer-in-Residence, and Lucy Hale, the ensemble’s Young Composer-in-Association.

A name for the ensemble will be announced in due course.

Dougie Scarfe, CEO of the BSO, said “The BSO is delighted to welcome these incredibly talented musicians to the ensemble. 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.”

 


Comments (7)

  1. Sharon says:

    This is wonderful, especially since James Levine can no longer be a spokesman for the physically challenged in classical music (not that he was really interested in doing that in the first place). Incidentally the word “disabled” , with good reason, is no longer correct.
    The correct term should be “physically challenged” or in this case, the most correct term would be “differently abled”.
    As a separate ensemble they can be role models for differently abled young people everywhere but I hope the day will come soon where differently abled people can be full integrated into regular orchestras, or in any profession for that matter, without comment.

    1. Andy says:

      Why is the term ‘disabled’ no longer correct? Not one of the disabled people I’ve ever known or worked with, or that my wife encounters daily (she works in that area) have ever been offended by the term. Why would they be? It’s not insulting or rude, just descriptive. How is ‘physically challenged’ better?

      1. Sharon Beth Long says:

        At least in the US the word disabled implies that people with physical challenges have no abilities. The term “mentally retarded” was considered o.k. 40 years ago. In the United States today it would be considered an epithet.
        I remember reading the 1920s play “They Knew What They Wanted”. This was the play on which the musical “The Luckiest Fella” was based. I was stunned at the words casually used for ethnic and racial groups by characters who were not in the least prejudiced and in fact one of them was a left wing political organizer. Language changes over time and places

        1. Tim says:

          In the UK, ‘disabled’ is used as standard by most disability groups and charities but the emphasis is on what is known as the ‘social model of disability’ where it is societal barriers (lack of access adjustments, prejudice, etc) that disable people rather than their impairment or health condition. There is a semantic view that the term ‘differently-abled’ risks ignoring such societal barriers and continues to place the burden of adjustment on the individual.

          https://www.shapearts.org.uk/News/social-model-of-disability

          I find this quite compelling, but interested to hear if this if framed differently in the US.

    2. Antonia says:

      Yitzhak Perlman has been a very vocal person on behalf of those with disabilities. We needn’t worry about losing James Levine.

  2. Kate says:

    Forgive me, but isn’t this about the music?

    1. Bruce says:

      From the press release: “The six disabled musicians chosen to be part of the ensemble are all of professional standard.”

      So, to answer your question: yes.

      Further interesting info on the BSO “Change-makers” program: http://www.bsolive.com/change-makers/


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.