El Sistema inspires new orchestras in England

Venezuela’s world-famous El Sistema orchestra has helped to breathe new life into the UK’s classical music scene, inspiring the formation of four brand new youth orchestras across England.

The new orchestras have been launched in Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham and Telford, all of which are set to receive funding for the projects until 2015.

El Sistema is the inspiration behind the In Harmony programme, which is designed to change the lives of disadvantaged children through classical music.

In the long-term, the programme organisers hope to see the investment filter down to the disadvantaged communities in which these children live.

Added to the new orchestras, it has been confirmed that already existing schemes in Liverpool and Lambeth, London, will see a benefit.

Julian Lloyd Webber, the founder of the project, explained to the BBC that despite ongoing economic concerns, the In Harmony programme continues to flourish.

“I am confident that the organisations that we have selected will embrace the spirit of El Sistema and will work tirelessly to bring positive change to the children and their communities,” Mr Lloyd Webber explained.

The programme offers young, disadvantaged children the opportunity to master a classical instrument, a focus that can do far more than inspire their hidden talents.

In Harmony say that their past successes have shown that such initiatives engender a sense of community spirit, social awareness and a team-orientated attitude.

These core concepts stem from the El Sistema of the 1970s, where programmes were designed to promote a sense of solidarity through classical music.

The projects in England are being funded by the Department for Education, which has announced plans to invest as much as £1.5 million between 2012 and 2015.

It has been confirmed that the project will be studied to evaluate how the programme can “transform the lives of children and their families in areas of deprivation”.

Last week we reported on Nicola Benedetti’s criticism of the government’s decision to cut funding for tuition in schools.

Could In Harmony be the answer for disadvantaged children in the UK?

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