Ipswich: Music festival orchestra honoured by Prime Minister

Ipswich School Festival of Music welcome The British Paraorchestra. Picture: Les Wilson

Ipswich School Festival of Music welcome The British Paraorchestra. Picture: Les Wilson

The British Paraorchestra, opening this year’s Ipswich School Festival of Music tonight, has been honoured by Prime Minister David Cameron we can reveal.

Shooting to fame after performing at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics, it is the latest winner of a Big Society Award.

Mr Cameron set up the awards in 2010 to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK which demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities and encourage others to follow.

To celebrate the anniversary of the 2012 Games, a number of awards were announced today honouring innovative groups, individuals and organisations whose work exemplifies this idea and whose Olympic-style achievements are making a real difference in communities.

The British Paraorchestra has been recognised for providing a successful platform for the country’s most talented musicians with disabilities.

“The talented musicians of the paraorchestra inspired a worldwide audience when they performed alongside Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games,” said the Prime Minister.

“The paraorchestra is providing opportunities, challenging perceptions and entertaining audiences. This Big Society Award celebrates a phenomenal 2012 for the orchestra and looks forward to an exciting future for everyone involved.”

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The orchestra was co-founded by conductor Charles Hazlewood, whose youngest daughter Eliza was born with cerebral palsy and a talent for music.

“I conduct orchestras around the world and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of musicians with a disability I have encountered anywhere. There is no platform for musicians with disability, very little in the way of funding - and therefore access to the often-necessary technologies: it is virtually impossible for anyone from this community to make a living as a professional musician,”” said the orchestra’s artistic and music director Mr Hazlewood.

“The British Paraorchestra is pioneering a global movement to recognise disabled musicians with extraordinary abilities and to end the limitations placed on them, not by their physical ability, but by lack of opportunity. It is great for our work to be recognised with this award.

“The Ipswich School Festival of Music runs from tonight to October 2. For more information on it and The British Paraorchestra visit our online entertainments pages, www.ipswichschoolfestival.org.uk and www.paraorchestra.com

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