Last week’s RPS Music Awards ceremony brought the 2016 prize in the Learning and Participation category to the South-West Open Youth Orchestra, the UK’s only disabled-led regional youth orchestra, brought to life by Open Up Music and sustained by its committed partners.
The judges were particularly struck by the inclusive nature of the process, which develops bespoke instruments for the individual musicians that can be played with any part of the body. “The orchestra’s premiere performances had great musical integrity, bringing together existing and newly commissioned repertoire, and incorporating ground-breaking music technology alongside brass band, choir, organ and narrator. For its practical, inspirational and vital role in bringing together the worlds of disabled and mainstream music-making, the winner is South-West Open Youth Orchestra.“
This is guaranteed to give you all the feels – meet the incredible man who makes music by moving his eyes… pic.twitter.com/E3uoGsKTUr
— BBC Newsbeat (@BBCNewsbeat) May 10, 2017
Since 2016, Dr Liz Lane is the orchestra’s Composer in Association. She wrote the first original composition for SWOYO, called Silver Song, which was performed live on Radio 3 on BBC Music Day last year. “My journey with OpenUp Music started with hearing three Open School Orchestras at their first performance in the Colston Hall foyer, Summer 2014. I was so blown away that I contacted Barry and Doug and this was the beginning of an exciting two year association which, to date, has seen me involved with repertoire and new music, as well as facilitating introductions to colleagues at the University of the West of England, with whom OpenUp Music now have an ongoing relationship; we are currently looking at funding to create new and bespoke musical instruments for the National Open Youth Orchestra in 2018-19.”