No barriers to performance

13th July 2012 at 01:00
Disabled pupils prepare to take Technophonia south of the border, as Emma Seith reports

Young disabled musicians from Scotland who would not be able to play music without specialised technology are to perform in the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, thanks to a unique, inclusive ensemble, created by composer Oliver Searle.

The pupils will perform Technophonia with youngsters from the City of Edinburgh Music School. The new composition, premiered in Edinburgh at the Queen's Hall on 15 June, will be performed in London at the Southbank Centre's New Music 20x12 weekend in July. This will present 20 new compositions of 12 minutes in length, commissioned by the Performing Rights Society.

Chris Jacquin, 17, a pupil at George Watson's College in Edinburgh, has musical talent, but without specialised technology would be unable to play music as he has cerebral palsy. His instrument in the Technophonia ensemble is the innovative Brainfingers system, which allows him to control the music via a headband.

The other young Drake Music Scotland musicians are: Antony Swift, 15, from the Royal Blind School, on the Soundbeam - a movement sensor that he plays with arm and hand movements, and Stephanie Forrest, 17, from Braidburn Special School, whose instrument is the Skoog, a touch instrument developed by a team from the University of Edinburgh that lets her play different instrumental sounds expressively.

Mr Searle's piece, subtitled Microscopic Dances, shows how musicians with disabilities can be included and perform on an equal basis with their peers. His inspiration for the piece came about as he observed the way musicians actually control and produce musical sounds.

`Technophonia' will be performed Sunday 15 July, Southbank Centre, London, www.southbankcentre.co.uk.

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