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Disability-led ensemble to play BBC Proms

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Resound ensemble will become the first disability-led group to play the BBC Proms this summer.

The group is led by James Rose, who has cerebral palsy and conducts using a baton strapped to his head.

His fellow musicians have conditions such as blindness, autism and partial deafness.

They’ll make their Proms debut less than a year after being formed, at a “relaxed Prom” on 27 August.

The low-key concert is aimed at children and adults with autism, sensory impairments and learning disabilities; and will be signed for those with hearing difficulties.

James Rose told the BBC he was “delighted” to be conducting at the Proms, adding: “There are barriers facing disabled musicians, and our performance at the Proms will show that inclusivity is possible within classical music.

“I hope that our BSO performance will inspire people, with or without a disability, to engage with music and open up more opportunities for diversity and accessibility in the arts sector.”

Resound is one of several ensembles challenging the perception that musicians with disabilities cannot play professionally.

Their Proms debut follows the success of The British Paraorchestra, who played alongside Coldplay at the 2012 Paralympics.

Running from 13 July to 8 September, the 124th Proms season will mark several centenaries: Leonard Bernstein’s birth, Claude Debussy’s death and the parliamentary recognition of women’s right to vote.

Bernstein’s works will feature in nine concerts – more than any other composer – including two performances of West Side Story, led by John Wilson.

There will also be a UK premiere of the American composer’s ballet score Conch Town, which contained a first draft of the song that would become West Side Story’s America.

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