First National Youth Orchestra for Disabled Musicians Announced

Milo O’Brien and Maria Rojas at the launch of the Le Chéile project at the Royal Irish Academy of Music on 6 February. (Photo: Mark Stedman)

First National Youth Orchestra for Disabled Musicians Announced

The 'Le Chéile' project – led by Royal Irish Academy of Music in partnership with Athlone Institute of Technology, Ulster University and Cork School of Music – will develop ensembles in each province.

A new project announced last week (6 February) will develop the first national youth orchestra for disabled musicians, the Open Youth Orchestra of Ireland (OYOI), and establish music ensembles in all four provinces. 

‘Le Chéile’ (Irish for ‘together’) will provide assistive music technologies to participants, meaning physically or intellectually challenged musicians can interact and perform through devices such as tablets and motion sensors. The ensembles will be directed based on the ‘Conductology’ method developed by Dr Denise White of Ulster University, based on a set number of physical gestures. 

The four regional ensembles, hosted by the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Ulster University, Athlone Institute of Technology and Cork School of Music, will consist of 8–12 participants who will improvise and compose music together, before coming together for a residential programme ahead of the first performance of the OYOI

The project, led by the RIAM in partnership with the other institutions, will also create a framework for composition and performance by young disabled artists nationwide through development of teachers and facilitators, a handbook and a resource hub. 

Brendan Breslin, head of RIAM Connect and leader of the Le Chéile project, said 

The Le Chéile project, whilst in its essence a music programme aimed at overcoming challenges for young people in Ireland, also signifies a major step towards societal change; embracing equality, celebrating difference and acknowledging ability at every level

The project is supported by the Creative Ireland Programme. Speaking at the launch, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, said

The founding of Open Youth Orchestra of Ireland… represents a strong and crucial beginning in building awareness of the opportunities for young people with disabilities to access music education and participation experiences.  At present, opportunities for persons with disabilities to access active ensemble playing is limited, so the Le Chéile project is a major step towards addressing this inequity.

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Published on 12 February 2019

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