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Outdoor street setting, A white male plays sousaphone, cheeks puffed, he looks directly at the camera
A black female wearing pink in front of a studio microphone. She wears headphones and her eyes are closed

About Paraorchestra

Paraorchestra is reinventing the orchestra for the 21st century.

With our ensemble of disabled and non-disabled professional musicians we blend artforms, genres, and technology to create large-scale music projects that challenge ideas of what an orchestra can and should be.

Under the Artistic Direction of award-winning conductor Charles Hazlewood, we seek to revolutionise and disrupt the orchestral norm. Whether marching a 70—piece karaoke pop ensemble through suburban streets, headlining a main stage at Glastonbury Festival with Philip Glass’ Heroes symphony, or reworking pioneering electronic music in a nightclub; we are sharing our music with audiences that otherwise may not have engaged with an orchestra.

All of these musical experiences – every breath, note and dynamic of them – is the work of just one orchestra. One extraordinary, exploratory, adventurous orchestra. They’re an orchestra that understands what an orchestra should be in the 21st century, reaching out into the lives of its players and performers. Then they go beyond that to the people experiencing their music, then out into the world” Jude Rogers, The Observer

Outdoor setting, a young female throws her hair back, mouth open. A young male plays drums mounted onhis wheel chair. A clarinet player and two sousaphones in the background. Smiles and joy.

SMOOSH! Bristol 2021 Image Paul Blakemore

Our culture is one of inclusivity and collaboration.  Of our full playing strength nearly 40 Paraorchestra musicians identify as disabled, D/deaf, or neurodivergent. We are the only orchestra in the world pro-actively increasing their representation of professional disabled players, whilst creating meaningful opportunities for world-class music making and career development. Our person-centric method of working prioritises consultation and collaboration with each individual, in turn removing the barriers that prevent disabled players from performing at their very best.

I wouldn’t go to an orchestra normally because I feel it’s not for me, whereas here I feel like it’s for me here and I’m welcome here, and I can interact with it.” Caryn Davis, audience member

We collaborate with choreographers, recording artists, dramatists, and AV designers across genres and artforms to create projects that appeal to the widest audiences, and our partnerships with Sky Arts and Real World Records have taken our work directly into the homes of millions across the globe.

There is a whole range of disabilities within Paraorchestra and the aim is that the support structure facilitates each and every individual person to perform to the best of their ability” Matthew Scott, Paraorchestra Musician

A white male kneeling on the ground, outdoor setting, he plays a trumptet whilst a small child wearing ear defenders presses the valves

SMOOSH! Brighton 2022 Image Laurence Perry

An Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation since 2017, we were awarded a significant uplift from 2023. This, together with funding support from The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, and Bristol City Council, will facilitate a major increase to the scale and frequency of our presentations. It enables us to go way beyond ‘levelling the playing field’ for disabled musicians, giving those that identify as disabled an advantage for their career development.

As a registered charity, Paraorchestra and Friends gratefully acknowledges funding from: