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Richard receives a Duke of York award at a ceremony

AAM pays tribute to our inspirational Patron, Alan Hacker OBE

Accessible Arts & Media (AAM) pays tribute to our inspirational patron, Alan Hacker OBE, the internationally renowned clarinettist, teacher and conductor who sadly died on the 16th April 2012. He was a truly remarkable man who overcame the barriers imposed through disability to become one of the most thrilling musicians of our time. Since 1992 he has been AAM Patron, and for AAM, and all its members (primarily disabled people and young people), he was so much more.

Alan has made a huge difference to all AAM members over the 20 years he was our Patron. It is unusual for a Patron to be so ‘hands on’ as Alan was. From inspiring the very first concert (Harmonic Motion) that the Accessible Arts arm of the charity staged back in 1992, where he worked and performed alongside our members, he has worked tirelessly with us to ensure that everyone could take part, no matter how much music they have done before or how much ability they have.
As a disabled person himself, Alan understood only too well the difficulties of living and coping day-to-day with a disability – inspiring everyone not to accept second best, in every walk of life. Alan never ceased to amaze me and everyone at AAM with the passion, dedication and concern he had for us - always taking time to get to know our members individually and where ever possible helping to nurture their musical talents. This is what we will treasure and remember him for always. Thank you so much Alan! Rose Kent, AAM Managing Director

Alan’s immense musical career spanned six decades. He became the youngest ever Clarinet Professor at the Royal Academy of Music aged just 19 and joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra soon after. However, a spinal blood clot left him permanently paralysed from the chest down in his late 20’s. On returning to the LPO he was greeted with the news that because of his disability he could not tour overseas with them, which was the turning point in his career, whereupon he ceased to be a young player of enviable virtuosity to become a truly great musician of versatility and fearsome originality.

As important as anything in Alan’s life was his restoring of the solo lines of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Quintet to their original melodic shapes, written for the basset clarinet, and reconstructing the forgotten instrument invented by Mozart’s friend Stadler.

He will be remembered most in York for the incredible contribution he has made to music and the legacy he has left for others to enjoy for generations to come. He had a long term association with the York based Fitzwilliam String Quartet following their first collaboration together in 1973 – 150 concerts and broadcasts, and an acclaimed recording of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet which has recently been reissued. Whist lecturing at the University he became the prime mover in founding the now internationally celebrated York Early Music Festival. Alan was a firm believer in music being accessible to all and whilst at the University he pioneered getting music out into unusual public places in order to break down the barriers of the established arts world - something that Alan was passionate about, and which AAM shares.

2012 marks AAM’s 30 year anniversary and we will be holding a 30th anniversary concert as a memorial to our Patron Alan Hacker on Wednesday 11th July 2012 at 7.30pm in the Guildhall, York. Without Alan’s support and guidance AAM would never have reached thirty!

Alan was a huge fan of AAM’s award winning Hands & Voices singing and signing choir, who welcome all members of the community and will be presenting a programme of music all written by the choir’s very own talented members.

It’s all to do with involvement and sincerity – that’s what you get when you see Hands & Voices perform and that’s what is important in art, it really is. The first time I saw the choir perform I was absolutely spellbound by the enthusiasm and life that that was coming out of them. As somebody who’s involved with performance, to see such spontaneity is absolutely fantastic. Alan Hacker

There will also be performances from local disabled composer and AAM member, Richard Mendham, of whom Alan was also a huge supporter, as well as other AAM groups and individuals - all woven together with some of Alan Hacker’s inspirational recordings over the years.

As part of the 30th anniversary celebrations, AAM are inviting all members of the community to experience and celebrate the diverse talents of our non performing groups as well at an Open Week that will take place from Monday 16th to Friday 20th July.

AAM has been an integral part of the cultural and community landscape in York since 1982 when a collective of local filmmakers got together to form York Film Workshop. With a few more names changes and relocations over the years (The Old Dairy Studios, Artlink, Accessible Arts and Cube Media), Accessible Arts & Media was born in 2008 and with continuing support of its so many members, supporters, funders and Alan, of course; the charity has grown into the vibrant and fun organisation that it is today.

Our activities range from music workshop leader training for adults with disabilities to a sensory programme designed specifically for adults and children with profound and multiple disabilities and includes one of the UK’s first singing and signing choirs, Hands and Voices, which enables those with communication and learning difficulties to express themselves more easily.

Alan’s funeral will take place on Friday 4th May, 2pm at The East Riding Crematorium, Octon. His family have requested no flowers but donations would be gratefully received for the Renal Unit at York District Hospital, if people desire.