by Lorelei Lin
The Paralympics are finally here, with more athletes competing than ever before!
The games launched along with a campaign titled “We the 15,” a human rights movement to end discrimination against the 15% of people worldwide living with disabilities. While the Paralympics are underway in Tokyo, we’ve collected some brilliant musical moments from the Games to share with you. The Paralympics run until September 5th, so tune in to catch some gripping competition and sportsmanship!
- Violinist and Paralympian swimmer Manami Ito performs at the Opening Ceremony.
Two-time Paralympian swimmer Manami Ito was studying to become a nurse when her arm was amputated in 2004. Now, in addition to becoming Japan’s first nurse to use a prosthetic arm, she pursues her love of music by playing the violin! Ito deftly wields a custom bow using her shoulder. She has appeared on television programs worldwide and delivered a moving performance at this year’s Opening Ceremony.
- Japanese and Irish folk music traditions merge in the Irish Paralympic team’s commemorative music.
Composers Donal Lunny, an Irish folk music legend, and Hiro Hayashida of Japan, a pioneer in the Taiko drumming field, collaborated on music for the Irish Paralympic team. Featuring elements of traditional music from both cultures, the music premiered at a “ParaBeats” concert held in Narita, Japan back in February. The event, featured below, includes the commemorative composition as well as other remarkable performances from disabled musicians.
- The composer behind the champion British dressage team’s music shares behind the scenes details.
Great Britain swept dressage once again, maintaining their winning streak stretching from the introduction of para dressage in 1996. The team’s four riders each competed in three events to win the team gold: the team test, the individual championship, and the freestyle test, which is performed to music. In the podcast linked below, BBC’s Hilary Dunn interviews Tom Hunt, the composer who wrote music for Natasha Baker and Laurentia Tan’s freestyle routines!
- Paralympian, artist, educator, and activist Leroy Moore comes full circle.
After cycling for team USA at the 1988 Seoul Paralympics, Leroy Moore left athletics behind to focus on the arts. The poet, writer, and filmmaker went on to co-found several disability rights organizations including Krip-Hop Nation, a “worldwide association of artists with disabilities.” Moore’s journey came full circle as musicians from Krip-Hop nation were tapped to perform the title track of the 2020 Netflix Paralympic documentary “Rising Phoenix.”
Pictured at top: Sareh Javanmardi from Iran, gold medalist, Aysegul Pehlivanlar from Turkey, silver medalist, and Krisztina David from Hungary, bronze medalist in P2 – Women’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 at the Asaka Shooting Range during the Paralympic Games on August 31. Photo by @Hiroki Nishioka / WPPO