Featured Orchestras & Ensembles

The British Paraorchestra

The British Paraorchestra is the world’s first professional ensemble of disabled musicians.

Founded by British conductor Charles Hazlewood and television director Claire Whalley in January 2012, the British Paraorchestra is pioneering a global movement to recognise and showcase disabled musicians with extraordinary abilities. Its mission is to end the limitations placed on them, not by their physical ability, but by lack of opportunity. Just as the Paralympics have achieved so effectively in sport, the British Paraorchestra is shifting perceptions of disability and disabled people by creating a visible platform for gifted disabled musicians to perform and excel at the highest level.

“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."

Charles Hazlewood

Charles Hazlewood has been a relentless advocate for broadening access to orchestral music worldwide, and in all the years he has toured the world working with orchestras, he realised almost none had a single disabled musician.

The Aims of the British Paraorchestra

  • To create professional, world-class opportunities for talented disabled musicians to perform as part of a ground-breaking ensemble
  • To increase the profile and visibility of disabled musicians on the world stage
  • To generate exciting new performance opportunities and collaborations for the Paraorchestra in an eclectic range of musical styles and contexts
  • To challenge perceptions of disability and remove barriers to music-making for disabled musicians
  • To encourage greater investment in the development of pioneering assistive technology for disabled musicians