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ACO Move Testimonials

Posted on 8 Aug 2017 by ACO Marketing

The ACO Move Presentation Day

ACO Move is a series of classes for young people with disability that integrates sound and movement with live music.

Participants work with arts facilitator, Dean Watson, together with ACO musicians and percussionist through a series of exercises designed to develop verbal and physical responses to music. ACO Move is about creating art in partnership with ACO musicians, facilitators, guest artists and participants, underpinned by the ACO’s high quality approach to music making.

The following testimonials have been shared voluntarily by participants, spectators and musicians.

Tilly Jones"When I first got the email from Dean Watson at the ACO earlier this year about the ACO wanting to use my music for the ACO Move program, it was quite a shock to me! I was equally amazed that they wanted to use my compositions but also the fact that they had a program for young people with disabilities. It is very very rare that you find a major orchestra so willing and wanting to involve people with disabilities into their work.

Dean and I spoke some more and we worked out that I would Skype in to the move sessions every week and for the final session I had the honour of flying down to be there and to participate in the Presentation Day. It was a great experience for me and really opened new perceptions on disability for me. Seeing the participants engage with the music and bring new ideas to it was a heart-warming experience. I especially loved how inclusive they were and got everyone involved. Emily Dash was another guest artist with me and is a writer. She had a listen to my pieces and worked with the feedback from the group. Emily wrote an absolutely phenomenal poem about the issues and stereotypes that we as young people with disabilities face. It was also absolutely amazing to hear my compositions played by the ACO musicians and to have their feedback. There is a huge difference between hearing it on a computer and hearing it played by live musicians.  I sincerely hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with the ACO again as I loved working with them on the ACO Move program."

Tilly Jones – Composer and Musician


"I think music transcends language, nationality and disability, Move is a perfect example of that. Each time we work together I learn so much from all the attendees, their positivity in life is inspiring, the way they give everything to the music and life can teach us all so much.

Working with Tilly was amazing. She is such an inspirational young composer, who has an amazing future ahead of her. It is incredible how Dean has brought his knowledge of body movement and music together to brighten up the lives of these very special people.

ACO Move is such a great project for ACO, it is incredibly rewarding for us musicians and I think equally rewarding for the very special people that attend. I really hope we can continue to expand the project together into the future, we could even look at taking it interstate or overseas.

As you know, I have worked in many places around the world and this is the only program of its kind that I have come across. As someone who has a relative with disabilities, the value of the program is immense, and the impact on not just those we involve but each of us as musicians and human beings, is immeasurable. It wouldn't work without the participants, feeling as comfortable as they do, thanks to Dean's incredible approach with them.

Move is an amazing project to be involved in, I hope I can continue to be a part of it for years to come.

Maja Sav –ACO Violinist and ACO Move coordinator


Emily Dash"Through its ACO Move program, the Australian Chamber Orchestra is establishing itself as a strong leader in providing access and inclusion within the arts industry.  I believe it represents best practice in this regard, and sets the standard to which all mainstream arts organisation should aspire.  There are many reasons for this.  ACO Move has undoubtedly improved my understanding of disability, and specifically the best ways to work within a mixed abilities ensemble.  But more importantly, it improves my understanding of people, and encapsulates the benefits of expressing individuality. Not only do we make a conscious effort to reach out to new participants so that they can reap the benefits, the program is enriched by the relationships between longstanding ensemble members and the sharing of creative ideas.

Having worked with ACO Move for the last three years, I have been fortunate enough to see how this program has evolved over time - and 2017 was no exception.  One particularly exciting aspect was the professional contribution of Tilly Jones, a 15-year-old emerging composer with a disability.  This was an invaluable opportunity for all involved.  It allowed for the work of the ACO to become deeply entrenched in the program, and continued to provide high-calibre collaborative opportunities to an emerging artist of considerable talent.

All in all, another wonderful experience this year. Every year ACO Move takes a fresh and expansive approach to inclusive arts practice, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next."

Emily Dash – Writer, Actor, and Speaker


Anke Timm"I applaud the ACO for having made way for human connection and experimentation within this highly collaborative format. As far as I know, no other Major Performing Arts company has a designated program for participants with disability, involving principals of their professional ensemble.

It became very clear in the presentation that the program’s aim is to support the artistic process, not the artistic outcome or product, and the facilitators focused quite literally on leaving room to move in various directions. This created a flow within the creative process and a “trial and error” atmosphere that would be quite unique in a landscape that is dominated by user-pays, facilitator-led learning programs.

I would see potential to broaden the reach of the ACO Move program, potentially to ACO’s other existing venue partners."

Anke Timm - Lead, Strategy & Arts Practice Accessible Arts


Kate and David Wenham"Thank you so much for inviting us to the ACO Move Presentation 2017.

I wanted to write to you to express our Congratulations on producing such an inspiring and valuable piece of Theatre. We laughed, we cried, we dreamed, we gasped and we loved..

The combination of the four musicians with the performers interpretations of their music was quite extraordinary. We enjoyed also being able to witness the process of meshing the performers ideas /responses to the musician’s music. It was clearly apparent that music really does move, and it moves us all in different and unique ways.  By adding the performance element, it also re ignited in us that music is to be felt and not just heard, that music is to be shared and talked about by every single person.

Another highlight was the Composer you had found to compose those breathtakingly beautiful pieces the performers moved and responded to. What a gift to offer this opportunity to such a wonderful young emerging talent. The finale with text read and written by Emily was truly glorious. What a talent she is too!

Congratulations to you all for assembling such a unique and talented group of performers.

Bravo to you Dean Watson and the ACO for their support of the Inclusive Arts Program for people with disability."

Kate and David Wenham


Hanne Anderson"You never get used to wonderful.

Even the been-there-done-that familiarity didn't intrude and Emily's words at the end brought tears to my eyes - literally.

Not bad when you've been around diffability for so long.

It's a hugely enriching experience for everyone and your warmth is the tonic which coaxes out the natural gifts they all have.

Hanne's tendency to "over-participate" can be disruptive but I'd rather she was totally involved than peripherally and you are able to monitor and conduct the group with subtle inflexions, turning it into a positive rather than grandstanding.

More cultural activity tonight as we settle down to the State of Origin of The Species.

Thanks to you and all at ACO for bringing out the best so sweetly."

Doug Anderson – Hanne’s father


Oliver"Thank-you for inviting Oliver to the ACO Move workshop again. 

People with disability tend to have less opportunity to take part in the creative process – the presentation showed clearly how much Oliver and the other participants enjoyed creating music and movement.  We also enjoyed the performance of Tilly’s wonderful compositions. 

Thanks again for your enthusiasm and generosity."

Anthony and Kay – Oliver’s parents







Liz Harbison"I am so glad I was able to accept this kind invitation and get myself down to the ACO Studio last week. It was the most uplifting and wonderful hour I have spent for a very long time.     

The amazing work that has gone into this project by Dean and those who assist him including the musicians, is something to be truly very proud of.  Another feather in the ACO cap indeed. 

The relationship that all participants have with Dean is clearly very special and fundamental to the success of such an ambitious project.   

Commitment is enormous, resulting in this presentation which was so touching engaging and just fantastic.      

Everyone was loving it and it was a great pleasure to be there to witness and share the joy.  

I loved and understood what Maya said as well.

Emily’s final words were so moving. (I’d like to read them again if you have them)

Congratulations Dean and many many thanks for all this work that you do. You are making the world a better place!"

Liz Harbison   


ACO Move will hold it's first Melbourne workshop later this year, where participants will join ACO musicians for a 2 day workshop of music, movement and expression.