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The first disability-led group to perform at the BBC Proms, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Resound Ensemble,will be led by conductor James Rose, who grew up in Melksham and whose family still live in the town.
In the late 1980s, the Melksham community rallied together to raise thousands of pounds for James, born in 1985, to help him receive conductive education at the Andras Peto institute in Budapest, Hungary.
At the time, conductive education – an intensive form of education designed to help children and adults with motor disorders to gain control over their movements – was not available in the UK. A number of events were held in the town to support James and his family, including a celebrity football match at the Conigre in 1988, which raised £1,000.
James and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Resound ensemble will perform at a ‘relaxed’ prom on Monday 27th August aimed at children and adults with autism, sensory impairments and learning disabilities. James conducts the orchestra using a baton strapped to his head.
James told Melksham News, “I was five-years old when my parents played music on car journeys. I imagined myself performing. I had a head pointer made when I was seven or eight and the idea of conducting grew when I bopped my head when listening to music whilst wearing the head pointer.
“I started conducting in 2012 after performing in the London 2012 Olympic ceremonies. That experience made me realise that anything is possible. Before that, the idea of conducting was a fantasy I carried around for 18 years.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming concert, James told the BBC, “There are barriers facing disabled musicians, and our performance at the Proms will show that inclusivity is possible within classical music. I hope that our Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra performance will inspire people, with or without a disability, to engage with music and open up more opportunities for diversity and accessibility in the arts sector.”