It’s an unusual orchestra, one that has played in London, Madrid, Moscow and Jerusalem. Its next stops are New York, Washington and Chicago.
The Tap Tap, created 18 years ago to give students at a renowned school for the disabled in Prague an extracurricular activity, has become a major musical operation that has drawn millions of fans.
You can’t tell from its professional, typically rhythmic sound that many of the musicians are in wheelchairs with serious disabilities. Band leader Simon Ornest believes that often the disabled aren’t challenged enough and people tend to be too solicitous of them.
“My goal from the very start was not to do it as a therapy but as a band with everything that it could involve,” Ornest said. “(Those) around 18 to 20 years old are confronted in our band for the first time with a situation where we really want something from them. We insist on it.”
In the beginning, The Tap Tap started with cover versions of their favorite songs. Today it produces music of its own, with help from local musicians, and lyrics that target the world of the disabled.
Their recent hit, “The Bus Director” is about a bus driver who prevents a disabled man from boarding the bus with his bicycle. The song has had over 6.9 million views on YouTube.
Today, the 20-member ensemble plays about 60 concerts a year and has been preforming a musical at the National Theatre in Prague.
The orchestra’s next project for next year is to perform in Czech prisons together with inmates in concerts that will be broadcast live by Czech public television.