THE Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has become the first in the world to have a professional ensemble led by disabled musicians.

Auditions were held in November and the six founding members of the new ensemble have been announced.

All six are of professional standard and three members studied at London conservatoires. One of the group is a final year student at the Royal Academy of Music.

They are Siobhan Clough (violin/ viola), Phillip Howells (percussion), Roger Preston (cello), Kate Risdon (flute), Matthew Scott (clarinet) and Charlotte White (LinnStrument).

BSO’s ensemble will become a permanent part of the orchestra’s output, and the musicians will be given performance opportunities, professional development, and will be paid professional rates. They will have the opportunity to perform not only as a standalone ensemble but also alongside the BSO who will be learning new skills and accommodating the needs of the ensemble players and their disabilities.

The project began following a funding award from Arts Council England’s (ACE) Change Makers Fund. James Rose, BSO Change Maker and disabled conductor, began his 18-month training placement with the Orchestra in June 2017.

He will lead the new BSO ensemble in a series of public performances and workshops to disabled and non-disabled young people and adults held at special schools and venues across the south and south west.

The aim of the performances and workshops is to inspire young people and adults with disabilities to have the self-belief that it is possible to become a professional musician with dedication and practice.

James said: "The ensemble will deliver a varied programme of high quality performances, as well as participation work, as the other BSO ensembles do. I am very excited for what the future has in store for this ensemble.”

Dougie Scarfe, CEO of the BSO, added: "The BSO is delighted to welcome these incredibly talented musicians to the ensemble. I am extremely proud that the BSO is the first orchestra in the world to have a professional disabled-led ensemble as a core part of its activities.

"I know that this new BSO ensemble will help promote diversity within the arts and society as a whole, making music more accessible to everyone."