Deaf teenager composes Olympic music for BBC orchestra
Lloyd Coleman is being hailed as a musical genius despite his disabilities
A deaf teenager has been asked to compose a piece of Olympic-themed music to be played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in 2012.
Lloyd Coleman, 18, who is also visually impaired, recently won a place at London's Royal Academy of Music.
He will be mentored by Larry Ashmore who has worked on films including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
"Larry is now in his 80s and has developed a huge amount of knowledge," said Lloyd, from Bridgend.
Returning the compliment, Mr Ashmore said: "I have known Lloyd for about 18 months and, as a professional musician myself of some 50 plus years experience, I can say with confidence that he is an outstanding young musician in several fields; as a player, as a composer, and as a conductor."
The former Pencoed Comprehensive School pupil has moved to London to take up his studies just around the corner from his mentor for the Olympic piece.
The opportunity came through a partnership between Disability Arts Cymru and Cardiff-based UCAN Productions in a project called Whose Flame Is It Anyway.
UCAN received £140,092 from the Big Lottery Fund in January to help develop young, visually impaired musicians.
Lloyd performed for Prince Edward at the Royal Festival Hall in March 2010
Lloyd said his work will incorporate a poem by Giles Abbott, who is also visually impaired.
"It's called Breaking the Wall because, after Giles and I started talking about marathons and how runners hit the wall and have to overcome humungous challenges, we realised there were parallels with the kind of challenges disabled people face," he said.
"Our idea is to also have a narrative around the Greek athlete Pheidippides, who ran something like 150 miles in two days to summon more support to stop invaders taking over their territory.
"This will also make it more relevant to the Olympics. I see it as being a piece with an overall metaphor of how everyone can achieve their dreams.
"When it's played in 2012 it will be just tremendous. It will be the biggest thing of my career.
"I hope it will inspire so many younger people, create a bit of noise and show disabled and able-bodied people that disability is not a barrier to success."
Lloyd's sight problems began after a suspected bout of viral meningitis when he was just eight weeks old, while his deafness became apparent by the age of three when he started talking.
But he says his parents soon spotted his musical ability.
"I've been told that from a very young age, before I could talk, I would sing nursery rhymes in perfect pitch," said Lloyd.
In 2005 Lloyd passed an audition to study at the prestigious Chetham's School of Music in Manchester, and performed at the Royal Albert Hall a year later, aged 14.
Since then he has been composing music for professional orchestras and music groups across the county and also conducts using enlarged sheets of music.
"One of the most important things for me is that I don't want my impairments to define me as a person," he said.
"I don't want to be known as the musician who's a bit deaf; I want to be known as Lloyd the person and Lloyd the musician.
"I want my reputation to be built on my musical ability which I hope will inspire others to set themselves goals and get what they want out of life.