Housebound to be treated to concerts in their own living rooms

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The Independent Culture

Christopher Smith has always wanted to take his daughter to a classical music concert, but her severe disabilities mean she rarely leaves the house.

Christopher Smith has always wanted to take his daughter to a classical music concert, but her severe disabilities mean she rarely leaves the house.

But today, Georgia, five, will have her own private concert of favourite Beethoven pieces in her family's North London sitting room by members of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).

The treat will be brought to her as part of a dial-an-orchestra scheme launched yesterday by Radio 3 for housebound classical music enthusiasts.

The scheme, Musicians on Call, is relying on the help of more than 1,500 players from 30 orchestras who have offered to make home visits to those who are not able to go to concerts.

The first 1,000 friends or relatives who ring a dedicated phone line over the next six days to nominate someone who cannot leave their home or a carer, will receive a visit by musicians for an hour-long concert in the venue of their choice.

Andrew Burke, who is head of LSO Discovery, the orchestra's education department, said its aim was to integrate live music into the community.

"We want to give people who are housebound or disabled the choice to experience wonderful live music making, literally in their living rooms. From the sessions in the pilot projects, the effect has been really powerful and people have connected to the music very strongly. And I know it also has a powerful effect on players", he said.

Mr Smith, 60, who is Georgia's full-time carer, said the scheme made possible an experience for his daughter, who has a type of cerebral palsy in which she cannot talk or walk, would never otherwise have.

"When she was about two, we discovered that she absolutely adored classical music and we think one of her favourites is Beethoven's 9th symphony. My wife, Caroline, and I have talked about whether we could risk taking her to a concert but we have worried that she could start making a noise, which is her way of talking."

In July this year, a cellist and a violinist visited Georgia at home as part of a local scheme, to play Bach and Vivaldi. "She was enthralled and there was a lovely moment when she put her hand on the vibrating bow. We invited two other disabled children to come and watch with us," said Mr Smith.

Cherry Forbes, an oboist with the Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment is among the band of musicians to make home visits. "For us, it is about sharing the enthusiasm we have for the music we play. I feel very passionately that music - especially classical music - is for everybody. It is about trying to get artists off the podium and it offers an intimacy which makes the music very real, in which people will listen to music and maybe talk about it afterwards."

Musicians on Call can be contacted on 0800 033 033. The home performances will run from October until 5 November.

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