608A new project by BBC National Orchestra of Wales is helping deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing adults and children to access music, through a series of free events in Cardiff.

On Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 February 2013, the Orchestra will perform a series of free concerts that aim to be as accessible as possible to audience members who are deaf, deafened and hard of hearing. This project is one of the first of this nature in the UK that uses a full symphony orchestra.

The concerts will be led by creative musician Andy Pidcock and conductor Grant Llewellyn, and will be presented and signed by Dr Paul Whittaker OBE, Artistic Director of Music and the Deaf. The events will feature British Sign Language and live subtitles and will offer audience members the chance to sit within the Orchestra, in order to feel the vibrations from instruments as the musicians play.

On Wednesday 27 February, the Orchestra will also be joined by singer Katherine Mount and the Llantarnam Deaf Choir, which features pupils from the Hearing Impaired Unit at Llantarnam High School, in Cwmbran near Newport. Andy Pidcock and musicians from the Orchestra will also lead workshops prior to the event with pupils from Ysgol Maes Dyfan, a special school in Barry, near Cardiff. The students from these workshops will perform their own specially devised piece in one of the concerts.

These events in February follow a successful pilot event in October 2012, at the Orchestra’s home in Cardiff Bay, BBC Hoddinott Hall, which received very positive audience feedback.

The music in these concerts will showcase the different instruments of the Orchestra, and will demonstrate concepts including pitch, tempo and dynamics. Music featured will include Hoe-Down by Copland, In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg and the theme tunes to The Apprentice and Doctor Who.

Four of the concerts will be aimed at pupils in primary schools, special schools and adults in care homes and day centres. A fifth concert will be open to the public, where Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing adults and children can experience music alongside their friends and family – helping to raise deaf awareness among the hearing audience.

Suzanne Hay, the Orchestra’s Education and Community Outreach Manager, is producing the events in Cardiff: “These concerts are a really important addition to our outreach programme, and we’re looking forward to offering these events to a new audience. We’re aiming to proactively reach deaf, deafened and hard of hearing adults and children by providing an experience that’s both accessible and fun. We hope that these concerts will also help to raise deaf awareness amongst the hearing audience, and above all, be entertaining events for everyone.”

This project is part of the Orchestra’s extensive Education and Community Outreach programme, aiming to make music more accessible to everyone in Wales. Other recent projects have included the distribution of a DVD resource pack, introducing the instruments of the Orchestra, to every primary school and special school in Wales; and a performance in December 2012 of Handel’s Messiah at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, signed by Dr Paul Whittaker.

To book free tickets to the public concert on Tuesday 26 February, 7pm, at Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff, call the Orchestra’s Audience Line on 0800 052 1812, email now@bbc.co.uk or fax: 029 2055 9721.

For more information about the Orchestra, visit their website atbbc.co.uk/now.

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