Discovering that the youngest of my four children, Eliza, had cerebral palsy, at the age of 18 months, started me wondering why it was that when conducting all the great orchestras around the world – and I’ve been doing it for 25 years now – I wasn’t encountering any musicians with disability in those orchestras.

British Paraorchestra The British Paraorchestra’s  The Nature of Why . Photo © Paul Blakemore

That seemed to me like an outrageous omission but also a terrible, profligate waste of talent because you can’t tell me that there aren’t prodigiously gifted musicians who happen to have a disability. Where is their platform and voice? That was my big question mark. I was having these thoughts in 2010, 2011, the years leading up to the Paralympics coming to London in 2012, and it seemed to me that here was a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a big noise about this issue, to create a new orchestra of virtuoso musicians with the one difference being that each and every one of them would have a disability, and that they would play at one of the ceremonies around the Paralympics in 2012 –...

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