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Orchestra of visually-impaired children hits melodious notes at Beijing Paralympics

2022-03-09 15:33:00 Source:Xinhua Author:
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At the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games held on March 4, mellifluous notes of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) anthem echoed into every corner of the stadium.

While listening to the captivating melody, perhaps few had noticed that the wind band members playing the music are all visually impaired and had to rely primarily on their hearing and touch to deliver such an exquisite performance.

Twenty-three of the orchestra's 44 members are completely blind, but this has not stopped them from reveling in the song of life. The band, "Yangfan," which means setting sail in Chinese, is from a special education center in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.

Li Longmei, the school's principal, founded the wind band in 2011 after espying her visually impaired students' joyous exhilaration following a musical symphony performed during a New Year's concert.

Li thought to herself: Why couldn't our kids learn how to play instruments themselves? She enrolled 36 students for the first wind band in the institution exclusively designed for those with visual impairments. Today, the special orchestra has over 70 members.

The students were initially taught just how to ring their instruments. But after they heard the first sound emanating from the musical instruments, the children wanted to learn more owing to their inherent love for music.

One of the band's tuba players used to hold the cumbersome deep-pitched brass wind instrument almost every single day for two to three hours' practice, even during his vacations.

Their sincere love for music and hard work paid off. The special orchestra has performed on several stages throughout the country, including the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

Their performance at the Bird's Nest Stadium, which hosted the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Paralympics, was a thrilling experience after the orchestra was given 49 days to prepare for the grand show.

Chen Haolin, 19, the band's substitute horn player, expressed regret at being unable to perform at the Beijing Paralympics' opening ceremony, but she was glad to see her peers on television.

"Previously, I couldn't imagine I would be able to play the horn as I do now and how life-changing music can be. Thanks to music, I have gained the courage to face anything life throws at me," Chen said.

As the Bird's Nest echoed with the signature tune performed by the visually impaired youngsters, their proud parents in Chongqing snapped photos of their television screens as a memory of the hard-won music show.

Chen Jingbo, father of Chen Junhao, the band's trombone player, saw a totally different future in store for his son after listening to the band's live performance.

"My son did something that I could not have dared to dream when I was his age," said Chen Jingbo, who is also visually impaired. "Music has changed his life and I am so proud of him."

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