Able Orchestra at the BBC Ten Pieces Proms 2016

The Able Orchestra took part in the BBC Ten Pieces II Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in July 2016 – you can watch the performance via the video below, courtesy of BBC TV.

The Able Orchestra project features young people from Fountaindale School, Mansfield and Outwood Academy Portland in Worksop. The original idea was to work with the students to develop brand new pieces of music and perform on equal terms with non-disabled counterparts. It was originally devised for disabled students using digital devices and music technology by County Youth Arts, part of INSPIRE, the newly formed Arts, Culture and Learning organisation set up by Nottinghamshire County Council.

From developing the pilot with professional digital and contemporary artists, a partnership was forged with Orchestras Live to enable the students to compose and perform alongside a professional orchestra. An initial project worked with great success with members of the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Able Orchestra was then invited to work with the internationally renowned Hallé on a creative response to the BBC Ten Pieces national scheme, which aims to open up the world of classical music to a generation of young people. The integrated orchestra performed at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre in May 2016, whilst the Fountaindale musicians premiered some their work at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall earlier in the year.

In the latest project, young people from Fountaindale School used technology to create and control sounds and projected digital images, devising a new piece using Gabriel Prokofiev’s Concerto for Turntables & Orchestra as the inspiration for their work.  Building on this, young instrumentalists from Outwood Academy Portland developed additional material for the piece by reinterpreting fragments from more of the BBC Ten Pieces, including Bernstein’s Mambo and Bizet’s Habanera.  A team of artists from County Youth Arts and the Hallé supported both groups.

One of the participants, Ellie Hagen, from Outwood Academy Portland, Worksop told us of her excitement at appearing at the BBC Proms: “Going up on the stage with over 5,500 people in the Royal Albert Hall of all places is just out of this world. Being up on the stage is just amazing and you get such a rush of excitement whilst you are up there. You don’t really realise what you have just done until you have already done and think back on it. This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is such an honour to have played with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. Thanks so much for this awesome experience, I will never forget it.”

The Able Orchestra is an evolving project based on the principle of enabling young people to create and perform music on equal terms, regardless of their physical dexterity or musical experience. The Able Orchestra project is produced by County Youth Arts and Orchestras Live in partnership with Nottinghamshire Music Hub, Inspire Trust, Nottingham University and Arts Council England.

Access the Able Orchestra evaluation report via this link

Watch a behind-the-scenes clip from the BBC Ten Pieces Proms via this link

Watch the BBC East Midlands Today feature on Able Orchestra via this link

Find out more about the BBC Proms via this link