Over the course of one weekend, this inclusive event united professional musicians from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and BSO Resound — the Orchestra’s disabled-led ensemble — alongside amateur players, including those from the ‘Rusties’ community and National Open Youth Orchestra [NOYO]. Together the group of musicians rehearsed three movements of Borodin’s Second Symphony.

Musicians from BSO, BSO Resound,NOYO and 'Rusties' Community rehearse together with conductor Dougie Scarfe

The BSO’s CEO Dougie Scarfe conducted the musicians over the weekend

The pilot event, which was co-designed with musicians from Bournemouth NOYO Ensemble, incorporated various adjustments to enable accessibility to the symphonic music-making experience. Some examples included; arranging new parts for the Clarion, Linnstrument and saxophone, adapting existing parts for a range of abilities, and providing braille parts alongside supporting audio resources for visually impaired musicians.



Bournemouth NOYO Ensemble musicians also helped influence and guide the ethos of the day, with thoughts on pace, support in the room and plenty of clear information shared in advance.

Kate Risdon, flautist from BSO Resound, said “we received the parts in advance and I’ve been trialling putting those parts into braille via an automated software package”. She went on to say, “it’s been wonderful to get back into a big orchestra and to have the chance to play a real symphony, that’s been great.”

BSO musicians rehearsed alongside amateur musicians

BSO musicians rehearsed alongside amateur musicians

A major aim of this inclusive and trail-blazing pilot was to connect different musical communities, empowering cross learning and connection. One amateur musician said that “learning from Kate Risdon about the braille music notation was really fascinating and interesting”, going on to say that they were “very grateful to have understood and gained more insight into this”.

Another described a highlight as “talking to disabled attendees and learning how much they get out of the project”. Others described the atmosphere as shining “in terms of equality and diversity”.

Musicians from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and BSO Resound rehearsed alongside musicians from Bournemouth NOYO ensemble and the 'Rusties' community

Musicians from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and BSO Resound rehearsed alongside musicians from Bournemouth NOYO Ensemble and the ‘Rusties’ community

Similarly, the experience of playing alongside professional musicians of the Orchestra was beneficial for many, with one amateur musician describing “playing with professionals” as a highlight, while another said they “found every single BSO member and facilitator warm and welcoming and so helpful”.

One young player said it was a “great opportunity to work with so many other amazing musicians who share the same passion”, and another described it as “fun, educational and really supportive”.

New parts were arranged for non- standard instruments such as the Clarion and Linnstument

New parts were arranged for non-standard instruments such as the Clarion and Linnstument

BSO Participate Senior Programme Manager, Jess Craig, told us that through the process of working with focus groups it was identified that there was a need to provide opportunities for visually impaired musicians to have hands-on sessions to “feel the instruments” in order “to visualise what the different movements are and what is surrounding them”.

For that reason, BSO musicians provided sessions with a selection of instruments — for example the harp, French horn and percussion — so that visually impaired musicians could get to know the other instruments and how they are played. A group session with the conductor was also provided.

The BSO’s CEO Dougie Scarfe, who conducted the event, emphasised that the project is all about “the next stage we can take in our passion for building a more inclusive musical world” and added, “overarching that, we all get to play Borodin 2!”

If you’d like to be involved in the next Symphony from Scratch, keep the dates Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 November 2024 saved in your diary. More information will follow on our website in September.

We also provide various other amateur opportunities such as
BSO Voices, Exeter Family Orchestra and more. See our Participate page for more details.


Symphony from Scratch was generously funded by:

The Pointer Family Trust


Allianz Musical Insurance (AMI) has been Supporting Partner of BSO Resound since its formation and continues to support the BSO’s work in ensuring a creative and vibrant world of inclusive music-making

Thanks to our partners National Open Youth Orchestra and Open Up Music, working together to make music more inclusive