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Good vibrations; edited by DAVE OWENS


ANDY Everton has very personal reasons for wanting to ensure the latest BBC National Orchestra of Wales concert is a success.

As a musician with hearing problems it was his idea to create an event especially for the deaf and hard of hearing.

This Tuesday a lot of hard work and emotional investment will come to fruition when the trumpet player joins his orchestral colleagues for a special free concert to be held at the Sport Wales National Centre in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

"The event is for all the family and aims to be as accessible as possible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing adults and children," explains Andy, who suffers from hearing loss and chronic tinnitus.

Part of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales' Community Outreach Programme, the idea came to the 47-year-old when he experienced a magical moment at a school several years ago.

"Music is so important to me and I believe that music should be important to everybody else. So outreach work is a natural place for me to be.

"For many years I've taken part in projects as an active member.

"One of the big strands of work we've had in this orchestra for a long time is working with children with special needs. And through that I became aware of how music can affect people in the most unexpected ways.

"On one occasion I was at a school in Brecon and there was one child in particular in the classroom who was brought to me, who was in a wheelchair, ually strapped in because she was foundly disabled.

virtu prof "S able "S She showed no outward signs of being e to react to anything.

She couldn't communicate, she didn't app app dee pear to be able to hear and didn't pear to see. And it affected me quite ply.

"Me being very stubborn, I decided I was going to have a go to see what music did for this girl.

"When I'm working with children I always put a mute into my trumpet so it's not that loud, otherwise it can be quite offensive and quite frightening.

"I was stood behind this child just gently playing and I quickly became aware of teachers running out of the room and running back in with boxes of tissues and cameras.

"It turned out that this girl had opened her eyes and smiled for the very first time.

"It still chokes me now, years later to think of it. Each time I went back to the school I did the same thing and found if I moved the trumpet from one side of her head to another her eyes would follow the sound.

"To me it's the power of music, that ethereal quality that music creates, I think there's something very profound there.

"That was where I had the germ of an idea for a concert for the deaf and hard of hearing. Coupled with my own hearing problems it seemed a natural step."

Andy says the set-up of the concert on Tuesday will be a unique undertaking for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

"In this case we've decided to seat the orchestra over a much larger space than normal.

"We've put seats inside the orchestra so the audience can actually walk into and sit down amongst the players.

"They can get that close, and in some cases actually feel the instruments and feel the vibrations.

"We have a number of players here who are willing for people to actually touch their instruments while they're playing, which is quite an unusual concept really - a lot of professional musicians wouldn't allow that.

"We're lucky with BBC National Orchestra Of Wales that we've done so much outreach work over the years that our team of players is used to this and very amenable."

A small pilot event in October to road test the concept proved a huge success.

Now the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will stage the concert utilising both sign language and speech to text (text viewed on a screen) - as well as a host of musical favourites.

"What we try to do is allow the deaf or hard of hearing to focus on certain building blocks of music," Andy points out.

"We can focus specifically on rhythm, volume, and tempo for example. To achieve this we are using a mix of popular classical pieces as well as some rhythm pieces.

"So we're using pieces such as Mendelssohn's Wedding March, Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev (the theme tune to The Apprentice) and a huge favourite in Quincy Jones' Soul Boss Nova which features in Austin Powers."

As well as the free concert that is open to all, and which will be presented and signed by Dr Paul Whittaker - artistic director of the organisation Music and the Deaf, there will be a number of concerts specifically for schools.

Suzanne Hay, the orchestra's education and community outreach manager, says: "We've got five concerts in total, four of them for primary and special schools.

"Then next Tuesday at the free public event, we'd like to encourage individuals, groups and families to come along.

"The important message here is that the concert is for everyone, not just those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

"We hope to raise deaf awareness amongst the hearing audience as well." | To book free tickets to the public concert on Tuesday at Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff, call the orchestra's Audience Line on 0800 052 1812, email or fax: 029 2055 9721. More information from:
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 21, 2013
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