On the eve of the opening of the London Symphony Orchestra’s 2018/19 season, Sir Simon Rattle today announced the creation of the LSO East London Academy, developed by the London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with ten East London boroughs: the first step on a path to making the orchestra truly representative of its community in London.

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 people between the ages of 11 and 18 and find the greatest talent from amongst the ten London Boroughs, irrespective of background or financial circumstance. The entire programme will be free, acting as a bridge between secondary school – where so many young people drop out of music education – and conservatoires, the vital next step into professional musicianship. Currently the costs of this type of training elsewhere can be as much as £3,000 a year.

Announcing the plans, Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, said today: “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.”

The Academy team, working with the Music Education Hubs in each borough, will reach out across East London to actively seek out the very 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 across the music and education sectors.

James Thomas, Head of Hackney Music Service, speaking on behalf of the East London Music Hubs, said today: “The LSO East London Academy, developed in consultation with the East London Music Education Hubs and Music Services, will provide a significant and unique opportunity for higher level young musicians aged 11-18. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the LSO to provide this wonderful opportunity for east London’s young musicians. This aspirational programme is particularly important because it will enable access to free, high-level musical training, advice and guidance for talented musicians 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.”


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