Charles Hazlewood

Award-Winning Conductor & Founder of the World’s First Paraorchestra

why book charles?

  • Collaborator works with diverse range of artists and musicians on the global stage
  • Multi Award Winning International Conductor
  • Founder and Artistic Director of the world’s first Paraorchestra


Charles Hazlewood is an award-winning conductor and musical revolutionary; he is a speaker, and Artistic Director of Paraorchestra

He has conducted some of the greatest classical repertoire with some of the best orchestras in the world and is a significant presence on British television and radio.

He is the founder of the world’s first Paraorchestra and his critically-acclaimed music theatre shows tour the world; his innovations have created new audiences for orchestral music and even reset what our concept of an ‘orchestra’ is. Hazlewood is a visionary with a mission to bring the ever modern joy of orchestral music to the 21st century audience and in doing so, to change lives and communities for the better.

Charles Hazlewood won first prize in the European Broadcasting Union Conducting Competition during his early twenties, and has since conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras (including The Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, The Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, Gothenburg Symphony, Danish Radio Symphony).

In June 2023, Charles was awarded the the biennial Sir Charles Groves Prize, which recognises the outstanding contribution of individuals or organisations to the musical life of the UK.

He has played Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms, and multiple festivals throughout the world, collaborating with artists as diverse as Nigel Kennedy, Professor Green and Wyclef Jean. Charles has conducted over 200 world premieres and won the Berlin Film Festival ‘Golden Bear’ for Best Film with his South African township opera company’s U Carmen e-Khayelitsha.

Under his leadership Paraorchestra became the world’s first large-scale integrated ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians who made their debut at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics and were the first ever orchestral headliner at Glastonbury Festival. Charles has authored, presented and conducted the music in multiple films for BBC TV (on Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, amongst others, as well as The Beatles, and Badly Drawn Boy, and Minimalism); he has won three Sony Awards for his shows on BBC Radio 2, created the score for the South African Mysteries (West End and worldwide) and Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs), and a new opera The Tin Drum (both Kneehigh) and has three TED talks to his name.


All or any of these talks can be presentation only, interactive with the audience alone and/or involving an ‘imported’ group of professional musicians or singers, depending on the client’s goals. Each ‘performance’ is created bespoke for the individual event.

How to Bring Together a Team of Stars:

Where no-one’s light is dimmed, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

‘I remember going to see an orchestral performance. I had never been to a classical concert in my life. But I am watching this and thinking about the co-ordination and the teamwork — one starts and one stops, just fantastic. So I spoke to my players about the orchestra — how they are the perfect team.’
Sir Alex Ferguson – Ex -manager of Manchester United Football Team

Hazlewood describes the challenge and the necessary conditions for creating this perfect team. With humorous anecdotes from his own career conducting orchestras around the world, (including hostile jokes from notoriously reluctant brass sections), Hazlewood illustrates one of his key themes, trust. Trusting oneself, delivering a strong and clear framework whilst creating a trusting environment in which each player is enabled to shine, whilst ‘binding’ the collective to achieve the best possible performance.

This session often culminates in Hazlewood getting his audience singing in 4-part harmony.

How to Make Your Team into an Ideas Factory

Sometimes there is no score and new music is required. Conductor, Charles Hazlewood describes the process by which he creates new music with the talent in hand. Drawing on the qualities and experience of the individuals in a group – be these singers, actors, instrumentalists of any nationality, colour or physical impairment – fresh and vital work can be created with (always) limited time resources.

Charles illustrates this talk with the story of Paraorchestra which he founded– the first orchestra of disabled musicians ever created, with whom he always works this way in order to make best use of the individual talents and instruments available.

The process of creating a new piece will be playfully demonstrated with a group of locally hired singers, who, in a short time frame, will ‘create’ and perform a short improvised piece to show it can be done!

‘Will they play for me?’

The Journey to Confident Leadership

In this honest presentation Hazlewood shares his journey to becoming an effective leader, from musical nobody to conductor of world renown.
Hazlewood draws out the key qualities he needed to find in himself in order to command an orchestra: confidence, clarity, persistence and openness, and how he learnt them. He focuses on two key experiences: his sometimes turbulent, and even dangerous, journey creating a world-class opera company from the poorest South African townships and the struggle to establish and eventually launch the world’s first paraorchestra to millions around the world at the London 2012 Paralympics.

‘When I walk into rehearsal with an orchestra, I have an idea of the speed I want the piece of music to go, but as we rehearse a new consensus speed emerges. This new speed has more value because it’s been collectively ‘decided’. I’m no longer afraid of being seen as lacking vision or consistency. What I now know is that success is about adapting to the context and allowing the best to surface’.

The Power of the Collective

“What Heston Blumenthal is to food, Charles Hazlewood is to music” – The Guardian

In this energetic and uplifting talk, he shares his insights and experience as a renowned conductor to help individuals and organisations be at their best. An orchestra performs at its best as a collective, with each person understanding and respecting what they need to do to make a great collective experience for the other members and the audience. Charles highlights and discusses the following as key elements in collaboration:
Trust: How you gain it, how to keep it, its impact, and the risk when trust is broken.
Disruption: How it can be ‘magic’ to a group when motivations are aligned.
Vulnerability: Learning to live in a state of vulnerability and the impact it can make.
Authenticity: Introducing the ‘Healthy Ego’, a state of being truly yourself and how it builds confidence in an individual and group.

Charles Hazlewood


“Charles ran a 2 hour workshop that managed to get a group of over 20 global managers working together more positively – it was all we could talk about at dinner, invoking debate and conversation. Charles’ presentation was personal but professional as well and motivational and thoroughly engaging. He focused and brought attention to working as a team, together in harmony”

Group PR & Events Director, Mulberry

“What Heston Blumenthal is to food, Charles Hazlewood is to music”

The Guardian

“The British Bernstein”

New York Sun

“Hazlewood is a major proselytising force in orchestral music. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious”

The Guardian

“Charles Hazlewood is a dazzling speaker and performer. He engages and excites his audiences, and they catch his energy and intelligence so that the room is more upbeat and uplifted when he finishes. We’re big fans”

 Founder of Names Not Numbers

“Charles gave an excellent presentation. We didn’t expect to be moved to tears”

Chief Executive, GCMA

“Like Davos with community singing”

Niall Ferguson

“Hazlewood’s musical interests are engagingly diverse. When he’s not conducting prestigious orchestras, he can be found promoting new music festivals on his farm in Somerset to collaborating with the rapper Kanye West”