Disabled-led ensemble launches

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has become the world’s first symphony orchestra to have its own disabled-led ensemble. The project is the result of Arts Council England’s (ACE) Change Makers fund, which is designed to address the under-representation of black, minority ethnic and disabled people in the arts.

Six musicians make up the group: Siobhan Clough (violin and viola), Phillip Howells (percussion), Roger Preston (cello), Kate Risdon (flute), Matthew Scott (clarinet) and Charlotte White (LinnStrument). The as yet unnamed ensemble will be a permanent part of BSO’s output, and its musicians will share skills and knowledge with other BSO players.

Appointed as part of BSO’s Change Makers project, disabled conductor James Rose helped recruit the musicians and will act as the ensemble’s curator and director. Alexander Campkin will be its composer-in-residence and Lucy Hale its young composer-in-association.

BSO conductor James Rose
BSO conductor James Rose

“During the audition process for the ensemble, we met with musicians from around the world with a wide range of talent,” said Rose. “The ensemble will deliver a varied programme of high quality performances, as well as participation work, as the other BSO ensembles do.”

BSO is the only orchestra to receive funding through ACE’s GBP2.57m (€2.9m) Change Makers programme. Other funded organisations include Hull Truck Theatre, Manchester City Galleries, Battersea Arts Centre and Royal Exchange Theatre.