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Introducing the Ensembles

In this section

Image taken from behind 5 string musicians dressed in white, they play, conducted by Charles Hazlewood in white, head down, hand raised. In the Background an audience on foot are illuminated by twinkling lights and hues of pink and purple.

The British Paraorchestra

The British Paraorchestra is the world’s first large-scale professional ensemble for disabled musicians, founded by conductor and (now) Paraorchestra and Friends Artistic Director, Charles Hazlewood, and television director, Claire Whalley in November 2011.

Its mission is to perform phenomenal music that captivates any audience, driving classical music forward and proving beyond a doubt that disability is no barrier to talent. The British Paraorchestra is shifting perceptions of disability by creating a visible platform for gifted disabled musicians to perform and excel at the highest level in the mainstream of live performance.

The integrated ensemble made its memorable world debut in front of an international TV audience of millions at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, alongside Coldplay.  In June 2016, the Paraorchestra formed part of the first classical orchestra to headline a stage at the Glastonbury Festival, as Charles Hazlewood conducted a mesmerising take on Philip Glass’s Heroes Symphony, the event’s major celebration of the late David Bowie.

Clarence Adoo plays the headspace

Clarence Adoo

Headspace / Hi Note

Lloyd Coleman, looking at the camera, smiling

Lloyd Coleman

Clarinet / Bass Clarinet

Oliver Cross


Tom sits in front of a black backdrop his guitar lays across his lap and he looks off to the right

Tom Doughty

Lap Steel Guitar

sepia photo, chris in white shirt plays french horn

Chris Griffiths

French Horn

Paul Holzeer plays in front of a music stand

Paul Holzheer

Acoustic Guitar

Takashi plays the viola in front of a microphone whilst wearing headphones

Takashi Kikuchi


Jonathan looks at the camera. He has dark hair and a maroon shirt.

Jonathan Leitch


Guy on stage with his french horn in his lap looking at the music stand in front of him

Guy Llewellyn

French Horn

black and white icon of black and white

Gemma Lunt


Hattie looks away from the camera and plays cello on what appears to be a tall ship, masts in the background

Hattie McCall Davies


Chris Melling


Profile picture of Victoria, eyes closed, slight smile, wearing a sparkling necklace and back sequin dress

Victoria Oruwari


James stands in front of a brick wall hid clarinet leans across his chest against his shoulder

James Risdon


photo of Joanne resting her chin in her hand smiling looking at the camera

Joanne Roughton-Arnold


Eddy Sayer on stage lit with blue lighting

Eddy Sayer


Baluji plays the dilruba, turned slightly to the right.

Baluji Shrivastav

Sitar / Tabla

Ziad Sinno


Rachel, smiling, wearing a floral dress, outdoor or garden setting

Rachel Starritt


Matthew plays the lute, looking down at the instrument as he plays

Matthew Wadsworth

Lute / Theorbo

Steph smiles at the camera her arm across her body holding the harp

Steph West


Army of Generals

orchestra on stage, dressed in white, lit by dynamic lasers in pink white and blue. Charles Hazlewood, back to audience, conducts

(Army of Generals play Philip Glass Heroes Symphony Glastonbury Festival 2016 Credit Lily Holman)

Army of Generals is an electrifying ensemble of non-disabled orchestral musicians that has built an enthusiastic following. It is famed for its dynamic energy-fuelled performances, can scale up from a small ensemble to a large symphonic offering and always prides itself on passion and drama.  Army of Generals have performed with Charles Hazlewood for many years, including work for television and film, and more recently in conjunction with The British Paraorchestra as part of Hazlewood’s headlining performance at Glastonbury Festival 2016 performing the Philip Glass Heroes Symphony.

In 2017 the ensemble again performed at Glastonbury Festival, premiering a new Paraorchestra and Friends piece, Play!, as well as working alongside contemporary music artists including The Unthanks and Father John Misty.

Taken from above, the top floor of the foyer at Colston Hall, looking down on Charles Hazlewood conducting musicisn spread out amongs the lower levels. Audienes wander between the musicians. Largle windo lights the scene from behind.

Charles Hazlewood's All Star Collective

Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective is an ensemble dedicated to improvisation, featuring artists from across the musical spectrum. From Portishead’s Adrian Utley to Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory to drum & bass virtuoso Squarepusher, conductor Charles Hazlewood first assembled the band in 2008.

Victoria Oruwari, left, wears a read evening dress, sings into a microphone infront of a music stand. Karvid Cocker, right, beard, wearing tweed, sings.

(Victoria Oruwari and Jarvis Cocker, Thunderbirds Are Go! Credit Chris Cooper)

Their live ‘super group’ performance of Tubular Bells came to the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and the Sage Gateshead 2011, a reenactment of Oldfield’s own group performance, 38 years previously. In 2012 they played Terry Riley’s Rainbow in Curved Air at Bristol Old Vic. In 2015, they were part of Thunderbirds are Go! celebrating the wondrous and evocative music of composer Barry Gray, who penned the hits of Gerry Anderson classic 60s TV Series’.



We collaborate with an array of brilliant artists and organisations to create ground-breaking work for the broadest range of audiences.  We recognise that each new relationship we build helps generate positive change for professional disabled musicians working in the mainstream.

Caroline Bowditch


Choreographer for The Nature of Why

Bristol Plays Music logo, a play button icon left of Bristol Plays Music in grey typeface

Bristol Plays Music

Education and Learning Partner

Anatomy of the Orchestra was first presented by Bristol Music Trust

Colston Hall written in grey typeface, brand shapes above

Colston Hall


Paraorchestra and Friends are an Associate Artist of Colston Hall

logo - pink circle on the left, extraordinary bodies in black informal font

Extraordinary Bodies

Artistic collaborator

Collaborators on Terry Riley's In C

Will Gregory

Musician & Composer

Composer for The Nature of Why
Special guest musician on Thunderbirds are Go!

Chris Levine

Light Artist

Lighting Designer for A Celebration of David Bowie (Glastonbury Festival 2016)

Unlimited in grey typeface with pink ellipses


Commissioning Partner

Unlimited commissions for Paraorchestra and Friends include The Nature of Why

Black and whit eimage of Adrian wearing flat cap and dark glasses, leans on an acoustic guitar in front of a mixing desk

Adrian Utley

Musician and producer

Special guest musician on Terry Riley's In C and Thunderbirds are Go!

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