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Tilly sparkles on Paralympic stage
A YOUNG musician from Malvern had the eyes of the world on her when she shared centre stage with Coldplay during the closing ceremony of the Paralympics.
Tilly Chester, who has a moderate hearing impairment, performed two improvised pieces as part of the specially assembled British Paraorchestra who accompanied the popular British rock band on Sunday night in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd and a television audience of 7.7 million.
The 15-year-old played viola and electric double bass after impressing the orchestra’s founder Charles Hazlewood during a National Youth Orchestra event. Miss Chester, who has been wearing hearing aids since March, said: “Nothing can describe the feeling of stepping out into the stadium and having 80,000 people staring at you. It was nice to represent the Paraorchestra in that way and to experience just how inspirational people are and how they can do anything.
“I have had so much support from friends and family. I’ve watched myself and laughed at myself – it’s kind of weird and pretty strange but very nice.”
She added the band’s frontman even gave her a cheeky wink as they prepared to begin their rendition of Strawberry Swing.
“Chris Martin winked at me just as we were about to start the song, which was a good moment.”
Titled the festival of the flame, the event was put together by artistic director Kim Gavin and featured a cast of about 1,200 performers including US pop stars Rihanna and Jay-Z as well as the parade of thousands of athletes.
The Paraorchestra aims to recognise and showcase disabled musicians with extraordinary abilities and to end the limitations placed on them, not by their physical ability but by lack of opportunity.
The former pupil of Bishop Perowne College took up a place at Manchester’s Chethams School of Music in January 2011 and only took up the viola last year after falling in love with its rich sound.
She began playing violin at the age of four and joined the National Children’s Orchestra aged 10.