BBC News

BBC National Orchestra concert for audience with autism

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

image captionMusic was chosen for audiences who would not normally attend a classical concert

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has staged its first concert designed for audiences with autism, learning disabilities and sensory loss.

The event, known as a relaxed concert, was held at St David's Hall in Cardiff.

It will be repeated during the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on 29 July.

The concert was designed to create a friendly, inviting environment with a relaxed attitude to music and noise from the audience.

Students from Ysgol Ty Coch in Tonteg near Pontypridd took part, alongside BBC NOW's professional musicians.

Sign language interpretation was provided from the stage, while chill-out areas in the auditorium were available for people to take a break from the orchestra.

Conductor Grant Llewellyn, who is regularly involved in the orchestra's outreach and education work, said: "It's been a real labour of love, a mission, to try and cultivate a repertoire and a language of communication and presentation for our audiences that incorporates this wonderful world.

media captionConductor Grant Llewellyn says the concert has been "a real labour of love"

"Not just for kids, but people with special needs who respond to music intuitively and instinctively, without any of the inhibitions which we learn.

"It's just so invigorating, it's so liberating. And I can't speak for the players - but I will - I think they learn a tremendous amount.

"I certainly have learnt about the nature of direct communication, and entertainment, and just unadulterated fun through music."

Music was chosen for audiences who would not normally attend a classical concert and included popular works by classical composers, as well as the music from Doctor Who.

image captionSign language interpretation was provided from the stage

Andy Pidcock, who leads many of BBC NOW's outreach sessions in schools, said it was a "special moment" for the Ysgol Ty Coch pupils.

"A lot of them don't have much spoken vocabulary, so music is such a very natural way of expressing yourself.

"In the sessions we actually have very little spoken language, we just use our instruments together and we create pieces with very little vocabulary.

"So music is the real language, and it's very nice to see that work in practice."

When the concert is repeated at the Royal Albert Hall it will be the first relaxed prom to be staged at the summer series of concerts.

Related Topics

  • Autism
  • Classical music
  • Pontypridd
  • Cardiff

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