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Introducing the Ensembles

In this section

Charles Hazlewood conducting, a blurred crowd in a field in the foreground

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

Headspace / Hi Note

Lloyd Coleman

Clarinet / Bass Clarinet

Oliver Cross


Tom Doughty

Lap Steel Guitar

Amelia Rose Hamilton


Paul Holzheer

Acoustic Guitar

Takashi Kikuchi


Adrian Lee

Electric Guitar

Guy Llewellyn

French Horn

Gemma Lunt


Chris Melling


James Risdon


Baluji Shrivastav

Sitar / Tabla

Ziad Sinno


Matthew Wadsworth

Lute / Theorbo

Steph West


Joanne Roughton-Arnold


Army of Generals

Army of Generals, photo taken from the back of the stage at Glastonbury, ensemble members holding instruments ready to play

The Army of Generals on stage at Glastonbury Festival 2016, Photography 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.

Photo of British Paraorchestra Birmingham on stage at Symphony Hall, full ensemble, Charles Hazlewood centre front

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.

Two musicians from All Star Collective play guitars whist seated on stage, surrounded by amps, music stands and cables

Photography, 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.

Colston Hall


Paraorchestra and Friends are an Associate Artist of Colston Hall


Commissioning Partner

Bristol Plays Music

Education and learning partner

Extraordinary Bodies

Artistic collaborator

Terry Riley In C

Will Gregory

Chris Levine

Light Artist

Caroline Bowditch


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