With his determination and focus, Nicholas McCarthy an inspired artist born without his right hand, beat the odds to become a successful concert pianist.
After being the first one-handed pianist to graduate from the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, he signed a record deal with Warner Music and today tours the world giving concerts and motivational speeches.
One of Nicholas’ proudest moments was performing at the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic games. He played alongside Coldplay in front of an audience of 86,000 people and half a billion viewers worldwide.
In his busy touring schedule he still finds time to be an Ambassador for numerous charities all focused in the creative arts. His passion is to help and represent charities which use music to help and engage with vulnerable, disabled and isolated people, young carers and terminally-ill patients.
Nicholas McCarthy shares with us his journey to becoming an Ambassador and Patron of charities to which he feels a close connection to, his responsibilities and his personal rewards.
|Concert pianist, motivational speaker and Philanthropist|
|Supporting and representing charities which use music to engage with vulnerable, disabled and isolated people, young carers and terminally-ill patients.|
QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY
|Anything is possible, with determination and focus you must follow your goals.|
How did your philanthropic journey start?
When my career began I was approached by a small charity called the Towersey Foundation which provides music therapy in palliative care for people living with life-threatening illnesses. I was immediately struck by the positive changes that they were making to peoples' lives. I was able to offer a platform to speak about their work and also set about arranging an annual charity fundraising concert.
I was so happy to put over their messages in my concerts and to feel I was doing something to help.
You are very active with many different charitable organizations. Can you tell us more about these organisations and why they are important to you?
My experience with the Towersey Foundation was such a positive one that I felt open to other such roles. This was at a time when my career was blossoming through my historic graduation from the Royal College of Music and the 2012 Paralympic Games in which I played. Around this time I was giving a lot of press and media interviews and I was approached by some amazing charities to ask if I would become an ambassador or patron.
I am a patron of Create - it uses creative arts to transform lives and I have seen at first hand the amazing direct impact they are having on improving, for instance, the lives of young carers.
I am also an ambassador for Nordoff Robins - it’s the largest independent music therapy charity in the U.K and is dedicated to changing the lives of vulnerable and isolated people.
In addition, I am closely involved with the One Handed Music Trust (OHMI) – A U.K based charity that pioneers the development and adaptation of musical instruments for the physically disabled.
As a charity ambassador what are your main responsibilities?
I give inspirational and motivational speeches highlighting the wonderful work of each charity and set out their messages and aims.
I lay on fundraising concerts and meet the most inspiring people that work for these charities.
Meeting and speaking to the people that the charities support and seeing the deep positive impact on their lives that is the most touching part of my charitable involvement.
What was the most memorable moment of your philanthropic journey so far?
With One Handed Music Trust (OHMI) I was asked to speak at the House of Lords about the amazing work that they do. Later on, I was able to sit in on a musical session in Birmingham where the children played their newly adapted instruments for the first time and also rolled out an impressive teaching pilot. These children would otherwise never have the opportunity to play music.
I was so impressed by seeing young carers given the opportunity by Create to work on a devised piece to perform at the Royal Ballet just ahead of Sleeping Beauty. It was so moving.
These children care for disabled parents and the charity gave them the opportunity to engage in the arts in a totally direct way.
With Nordoff Robbins, I was able to provide an opportunity for a really talented young man with autism who has faced up to some tough experiences. He has a love of the Piano which he plays beautifully and I arranged for him to perform on a concert grand on stage and in front of his parents.
It's this sort of merging of my concert career with my charity work that is so rewarding.
I see Nordoff Robbins supporting vulnerable, disabled people of all ages and offering that extra window of hope into lives that can be very difficult.
What has been your greatest lesson as a philanthropist?
I guess it's all about seeing my achievements as a disabled person inspire others and encourage them to achieve their dreams.
I believe strongly that we all have something to offer no matter what we may perceive as our limitations - we can all give time and time is the most precious thing we have.
What are your philanthropic goals for the next three years?
To use my platforms to effect change and help gain opportunities for the people that the charities I’m involved with help and support.
To continue to give as much time as I can in supporting these inspiring charities.
How does your typical day look?
When I’m not travelling, I head off to a morning work out at the gym and return to get ready for the day before practising at the piano for a couple of hours focusing on concertos. I then catch up with my manager and return to the piano to work on my repertoire for upcoming concerts and recordings such as my Bach/Rachmaninoff album which will be out in the autumn. My day is rounded off with walking my dog and perhaps having friends over for dinner.
And finally, what advice would you give to someone considering becoming an ambassador of a charitable organization?
You will get back more than you can ever feel you have given. Focus on what you can bring to the role and don’t be afraid to suggest ideas and be open minded - you never know what difference you can make.
To find out more about Nicholas' charity work, upcoming concerts and to listen to his beautiful music visit nicholasmccarthy.co.uk