Arco is an innovative alliance, established in 2015 between Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music (CMCM), an inspiring institution in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Arco provides regular distance-learning opportunities for talented children in South Africa, who for multiple reasons, do not have access to the same level of musical education as people in Europe.
Weekly individual instrumental lessons, mentoring and string quartet coaching are delivered by a group of sixteen current students and recent graduates from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire via video conferencing systems. Regular events occurring within Birmingham Conservatoire’s String Department, such as masterclasses, workshops and performances are streamed live to South Africa for the benefit of the CMCM students. Each summer, Arco teachers from the UK travel to South Africa for the annual festival – an immersive musical experience, building on and solidifying skills learnt throughout the year.
The Arco Festival is an annual, immersive musical experience in South Africa, building on and solidifying skills learnt throughout the year. The festivals of 2016 and 2017 have been enormously successful and truly life-changing experiences for all involved. Plans for the 2018 festival are already underway.
2017 sees the launch of Arco Exchange, with selected Arco students being hosted in the UK for speciﬁc projects and festivals. So far, partnerships have been established with the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival, Chetham’s School of Music and Pro Corda – the National School for Young Chamber Musicians. Three students from Soweto will be traveling to England in November 2017 and we are currently in the process of funding further trips for 2018.
In 2017, Arco piloted a teacher training scheme, welcoming Jan Repko to Soweto to work with Arco teachers. Enormously successful, we will be continuing the scheme with both Jan and celebrated pedagogue Wiesje Miedama in 2018.