Tetras Lyre Orchestra

Location: Chambéry

Challenge: Various Disabilities

Website: tetraslyre.free.fr

In France, Tétras-Lyre is one of a kind. This extraordinary orchestra from Chambéry in the French Alps is currently made up of 35 musicians aged 16 to 60, all of them with learning disabilities – and all of them with a seriously "can-do" attitude. Some of them play the recorder, others the piano, guitar, marimba or djembe drum, and one young woman with Down’s syndrome plays the violin! Their musical repertoire includes 70 pieces ranging from Bizet to the Beatles, and to maintain their high musical standards they rehearse three times a week.

Tétras-Lyre was formed 30 years ago and is a well-known and well-loved orchestra in this part of France. But since one of its concerts was filmed for national television last November, requests for performances have been pouring in from all over the country – and beyond. In 2014, as well as its usual national venues, the orchestra has been invited to perform in Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia.

Tétras-Lyre also plays regularly with orchestras of non-disabled musicians and has even worked with conductors who don't speak French - which just goes to show that music really is a universal language!

Tétras-Lyre’s musicians are passionate about their music. They have overcome some major hurdles to reach the standard required of them (some of them can’t read, for example) and are committed and conscientious, never missing a rehearsal. They are supported by a dedicated team of volunteers, not forgetting their musical director, Isabelle, who nurtures their talent, adapting her approach to their special needs and bringing out the very best in them.

One of their biggest pleasures is seeing the faces in the audience change when they start to play. People who come to see them for the first time don’t really know what to expect, but certainly not music of the quality this orchestra produces. Its slogan is "Le handicap s'efface devant la musique" [In music, disability disappears], and these musicians confirm this every time they perform.

Tétras-Lyre is indeed living proof that people with learning disabilities, given the opportunity, are capable of the most amazing things. Vive la musique!

Tetras Lyre Orchestra