One-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy to close Paralympics

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The first one-handed pianist to graduate from the Royal College of Music is to play at the Paralympic Games' closing ceremony on Sunday.

Nicholas McCarthy, 23, from Tadworth in Surrey, will perform to a global audience of around 750 million as part of the first ever disabled orchestra.

The British Paraorchestra will back multi-award winners Coldplay and play during the flag handover to Brazil.

Mr McCarthy said: "I can't get my head round it really, it's amazing."

He added: "As a classical pianist, I'd never thought I'd be playing alongside Coldplay at the Paralympics, it's a bit mad to be honest, it's wonderful. I can't wait to meet them."

Coldplay retweet

He said some of the orchestra's 19 members screamed when they found out they would back the band on one of their tracks because they were such fans.

"To meet and be part of their performance is just out of this world, everyone is as excited as everyone else," he said.

Mr McCarthy said Coldplay had been supportive of the orchestra from the beginning, even retweeting news of their first concert to their millions of followers.

Image caption Coldplay are a headline act in the closing ceremony

"This is a very large scale, worldwide gig, if this doesn't raise the profile of the orchestra, I'm not sure what will," Mr McCarthy said.

The orchestra was founded last year by well-known British conductor Charles Hazlewood, whose daughter has cerebral palsy.

The growing number of musicians usually rehearse in London but have members from all over the country, including Brighton and Guildford.

London 2012 Paralympic Games organisers Locog have refused to confirm or deny any details of the closing ceremony.

A spokesperson for the Paraorchestra said: "We'll have to wait and see what happens on the night."

Mr McCarthy, who was born without his right hand, taught himself to play an electric keyboard as a young boy but did not start piano lessons until he was 14.

His interest grew the instant a friend played him a piano sonata by Beethoven and at 17 he secured a place at the junior department of London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

He went on to the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, graduating in July, and will headline his first evening concert at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on 13 September.

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