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Music and Dance Scheme schools in virtual orchestra collaboration

Young musicians from the UK's five specialist music schools have released a video performance of a special commission written and performed during Covid-19 lockdown

A new virtual orchestra brought together 81 young musicians currently studying at the UK’s five specialist music schools in an online performance of a new piece specially written for them by Gwilym Simcock, who has been critically acclaimed at home and abroad as one of the most gifted pianists and imaginative composers working in Europe today. 

Performers from Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, The Purcell School in Hertfordshire, Wells Cathedral Music School in Somerset and the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey recorded their own individual parts of a Simcock’s Union Overture and Celebration, with the resulting video broadcast for the first time in August.

Established in 1981, the UK government’s Music and Dance Scheme (MDS) enables talented young performers to benefit from world-class specialist training at one of five specialist music schools. The scheme has provided a vital springboard for many of the country‘s finest musicians, such as violinist Nicola Benedetti, multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier and pianist Steven Osborne.

Composer Gwilym Simcock is himself one of many acclaimed musical graduates from the MDS funded system, having studied at Chetham’s School of Music. He has toured extensively with the cream of British and international jazz artists, and has performed with orchestras, choirs, big bands, dancers, and with musicians from diverse backgrounds including the classical, jazz, folk and rock traditions. His debut album, Perception, was nominated for Best Album in the BBC Jazz Awards 2008 and his 2011 album, Good Days At Schloss Elmau, was one of the twelve nominees for the Mercury Music Prize.