Gallery/Review: The British Paraorchestra, Great School, September 26

British Paraorchestre open the Ipswich School Festival of Music 2013. All pictures: Mike Kwasniak

British Paraorchestre open the Ipswich School Festival of Music 2013. All pictures: Mike Kwasniak - Credit: Archant

What a great way to open this year’s Ipswich School Festival of Music. The world’s first professional ensemble of disabled musicians entertained and inspired in equal measure.

Founded last year, its aim is to showcase musicians with extraordinary abilities and end the limitations placed on them not by their physical ability but by lack of opportunity. So far they’ve performed at the Paralympics, sung for the Queen and plans are under way for an album with EMI.

Each of the 18 musicians performing at the concert let the music do the talking; playing everything from clarinets, violins and French horns to laptops, ouds and headspace equipment.

Starting with a great mash-up of the traditional folk tune Greensleeves; shifting tonally from a spaghetti western, horror film and Irish jig, you could tell we were in for something special.

Individual members got their chance to shine, with super solo spots from harpist Steph West, pianist Nicholas McCarthy and clarinetist Lloyd Coleman. In keeping with the orchestra’s mission of inclusiveness, we got to be part of the paraorchestra; singing along on two occasions.


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After taking Ravel’s one-movement orchestral piece Boléro on a typical paraorchestra adventure you couldn’t help tap your foot too; the evening ended with a rousing version of their 2012 Christmas single True Colours, where they were joined by children from Ipswich School.

Come back soon.

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Wayne Savage

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