We’re delighted to announce that Paraorchestra founder and Artistic Director, Charles Hazlewood, has been awarded the Sir Charles Groves Prize from music charity Making Music the UK’s association for leisure-time music groups.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Barbara Eifler, joined us for a special performance of SMOOSH! during rehearsal at The Factory Project, East London this week to present the award to Charles.

Making Music’s aim is to empower and facilitate musicians of all abilities, backgrounds, and experience to come together to create their own kind of music. Selected by their Board of Trustees, the winner of the biennial Sir Charles Groves Prize is recognised for an ‘outstanding contribution to the musical life of the United Kingdom’.

After winning the European Broadcasting Union conducting competition in his 20’s, Charles’ went on to conduct orchestras across the globe. Fuelled by a deep-rooted passion for sharing the joy of orchestral music with as wide an audience as possible; his projects and collaborations, and work on TV and Radio, spans genres, reaching many who otherwise would perhaps not have encountered an orchestra before.

Charles founded Paraorchestra in recognition of a profound lack of opportunities for professional disabled musicians. Henceforth, his creativity and insatiable drive for accessible orchestral music extends way beyond audiences, conceiving a world-wide platform that celebrates and champions disabled talent, creating future artistic leaders.

Presenting the award in the company of SMOOSH! musicians, production crew, and guests; Barbara Eifler, CEO of Making Music, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to recognise an immensely talented artist who has done so much to broaden the perception of who can be a musician; barriers to creativity are not inside people, but in the world in which they find themselves. Here is someone who does not accept these barriers and shows us all how – and why – we should help remove them.’

Charles Hazlewood: ‘I am beyond honoured (and feel thoroughly unworthy) to accept the Sir Charles Groves award. I have had an utterly joyous life making music with a smorgasbord of brilliant people for over 30 years; it is its own reward, but to be recognised by Making Music is very special indeed’

Jonathan Harper, Paraorchestra Chief Executive said: “A huge thank you to Barbara and the team at Making Music for recognising Charles’ work in this way. All of Paraorchestra, its Trustees and I are very proud of Charles’ on-going artistic achievements, his ability to find ways of reaching all audiences, and his resolute championing of talented disabled musicians, music-makers and artists. Charles brings passion, intellect and joy to our world and you can be sure we will find a moment soon to mark and celebrate this occasion with the wider Paraorchestra family.”

Perfectly exemplifying Charles and Paraorchestra’s ethos, SMOOSH! brings a large-scale music parade with a feel-good party vibe to communities almost anywhere. A core of Paraorchestra disabled and non-disabled musicians plus professional dancers are joined by local performers for a set of pop-classics on the move.

SMOOSH! is set for 5 more performances this weekend in Plaistow East London on Friday 23rd Southbank Centre on Saturday 24th and Glastonbury Festival on Sunday 25th.

Image credit: Fatima Yasmin