The new project is described as ‘the first step on a path to making the orchestra truly representative of its community in London’.
LSO East London Academy
The LSO East London Academy will open at LSO St Luke’s in Spring 2019. It aims to identify and develop the potential of young East Londoners between the ages of 11 and 18 who show exceptional musical talent, irrespective of their background or financial circumstance.
The entire programme will be free, acting as a bridge between Secondary school, where many young people drop out of music education, and conservatoires, the next step into professional musicianship. Currently, the costs of this type of training elsewhere can be as much as £3,000 a year.
Seeking talent across 10 boroughs
The Academy team, working with the music education hubs in each of the 10 boroughs, will reach out across East London to actively seek out the best talent. Selected participants will benefit from the full resources of the London Symphony Orchestra including masterclasses with LSO players.
The first year’s programme will focus on working with 20 string players. In year two, approximately 20 woodwind, brass and percussion players will be added, thus alternating the recruitment each year, building towards the creation of a chamber orchestra.
At the conclusion of each cycle of the programme, the young musicians will perform in a public concert at LSO St Luke’s, which will include invited industry professionals from across the music and education sectors.
LSO’s existing work in East London
The LSO’s existing work in East London has been significant, engaging over 18,000 young people, training 400 Primary school teachers in the delivery of classroom music activities, delivering over 1,800 creative music workshops, reaching 440 schools and providing 165 performance opportunities for young people from across East London.
However, the focus of the programme has been to engage and inspire rather than providing ongoing training focussed on high-level instrumental skills.
Removing barriers for young musicians
Many young East Londoners and their parents are not aware of their musical potential and lack the money, support networks and understanding required to pursue their talent further.
Through the new East London Academy programme, the LSO aims to ensure that all the young people in East London who have the potential to pursue a career in music should be given the opportunity to do so, regardless of their circumstances or background and without financial or other barriers.
‘Truly London’s Symphony Orchestra’
Announcing the plans on 13 September 2018, Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, said:
‘The LSO’s education work is world-famous and rightly admired and copied. But we want to go much further.
‘We know there is so much talent on our doorstep. We see these young people through our work every day in schools and the wider community.
‘But they face some of the biggest social and financial barriers to realising their ambitions and we want our programmes to constantly evolve to meet the challenge of being truly London’s Symphony Orchestra.’
East London’s music hubs
Speaking on behalf of the East London music education hubs, James Thomas, Head of Hackney Music Service, said:
‘The East London music hubs are delighted to be working in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra on the LSO East London Academy, which will provide a significant and unique opportunity for East London’s young musicians.
‘This aspirational programme is particularly important because it will enable access to free, high-level musical training for 11-18-year-olds from diverse cultural backgrounds and from lower-income families.
‘The programme fills a much-needed gap in provision for gifted and talented students for whom a similar option would be financially prohibitive.’
Header photo: LSO On Track 10th Anniversary concert, 5 July 2018 © Doug Peters