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26 September 2013, 00:01
A year on from playing with Coldplay at the Paralympics 2012, the British Paraorchestra is to be honoured with a Big Society Award.
After a whirlwind year which saw the 26-strong group of musicians perform at Buckingham Palace for the Queen's Christmas broadcast, perform at festivals across the UK, as well as their collaboration with Coldplay at the Paralympics closing ceremony, the British Paraorchestra are being recognised by the Prime Minister himself.
Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in 2010 to acknowledge members of the community who inspire others or engage in social action projects to improve society as a whole. This year's awards celebrate the anniversary of the London 2012 games, honouring individuals and groups who are keeping the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics alive.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The talented musicians of Paraorchestra inspired a worldwide audience when they performed alongside Coldplay at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games. Paraorchestra is providing opportunities, challenging perceptions and entertaining audiences. This Big Society Award celebrates a phenomenal 2012 for the orchestra and looks forward to an exciting future for everyone involved."
As the Paralympics does for disabled athletes, the British Paraorchestra aims to break down barriers and act as a platform for disabled musicians. They've even released a charity single to raise money for the ParalympicsGB team.
The instrumentalists themselves play a range of instruments from conventional orchestral strings, woodwinds, and percussion, as well as iPads and computers. Many have performance careers in their own right, including one-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy, who is currently touring the UK with a series of recitals.