Extracurricular Club for Disabled Now a World-Renowned Orchestra

Czech Republic's Tap Tap group, which started 18 years ago, plays all over the world
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 4, 2017 1:00 PM CDT
Extracurricular Club for Disabled Now a World-Renowned Orchestra
In this picture taken Feb. 23, 2017, members of the Tap Tap orchestra perform during a charity concert in Prague, Czech Republic.   (Petr David Josek)

It's an unusual orchestra, one that has played in London, Madrid, Moscow, and Jerusalem. Today, Tap Tap, created 18 years ago to give students at a renowned Prague school for the disabled an extracurricular activity, has become a major musical operation that has drawn millions of fans, first at home and gradually abroad, the AP reports. You can't tell from its professional, typically rhythmic sound that many of the musicians are in wheelchairs with serious disabilities—and that's just what its director wants. Band leader Simon Ornest believes that the disabled often aren't challenged enough and people tend to be too solicitous of them. Ornest says the band's strength is based on its two essential rules: "We come on time, and we do what we promised among ourselves to do."

Tap Tap began with cover versions of their favorite songs. Today it produces music of its own, with help from local musicians, and lyrics that target the world of the disabled. The 20-member ensemble plays about 60 concerts a year and has been performing a musical at Prague's National Theatre. Despite the difficulties of going on the road, Tap Tap has played a number of European capitals, and this year it's set to put on concerts in New York City, DC, and Chicago. The orchestra's next project will be to perform in Czech prisons with inmates, in concerts that will be broadcast live by Czech public television. "What the people just released from prison and the disabled have in common is that the public doesn't expect much from them," Ornest notes. "We started as an extracurricular activity ... and we are a professional ensemble now," the band's master of ceremonies adds. (More uplifting news stories.)

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