London Philharmonic's Youth Fusion: The Band
A few weeks ago, Alec from the Education Department of LPO sent me a message about their dusty old SoundCloud account they’ve just found and haven’t been using. They were even thinking about deleting it.
Alec knew better. As he wrote me, “However I saw how wicked your widget is and it really interested me.” That made me very excited. That made us very excited. We were excited that the London Philharmonic Orchestra found us awesome, as we do them!! So I asked if we can do a little Q&A with Alec and he kindly accepted and took time to answer some of my questions :).
The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s The Band is a youth fusion group that gives aspiring young musicians from South London the chance to work with members of the Orchestra in creative composition workshops.
How long has the project been going on and is there an end-station?
We’re in to the second year of the project now and we’ve already had three successful concerts in Royal Festival Hall, London. The sessions give the young musicians a space in which they can explore composing in their own musical styles. They experience first-hand the Orchestra members’ skills and expertise, and learn from them what it means to be a member of a musical ensemble.
I know that any music lovers living and/or studying in South London (Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark) aged 15 to 19 can join and the young musicians create their own music (wow!) according to the group’s taste (ranging from classical to bhangra). Can you briefly describe how the creative process in such a diverse environment works? And what are some of the key ingredients that keeps this going? Do many participants go on making music?
Each session is different. Previously we’ve had musicians familiar with Indian and Latin percussion, jazz, dance and folk music working within the group. So we’ve encouraged them to share the music they’re interested in with the group. This year the group are working towards a pre-concert performance, playing before the Orchestra’s evening performance. This concert will feature works by Schuman and Ravel and so we’ll be looking at these two composers over the term sessions.
Each Band member brings their own interests and tastes to the group. Phil Mullen – the musical director of The Band, the Orchestra musicians and the team work with young people to bring these different tastes and talents together in a really positive way. You can hear the results for yourself!
Yes, many Band members have gone on to study music at college or university, some have auditioned for West End shows and some just continue to enjoy playing music in their own way.
How do you think online platforms such as SoundCloud can facilitate education and community projects like the Band?
We are aware that we expect a lot of our Band members. This term for example, we’re going to be creating about 1.5hrs of music over only 10 sessions, that’s 15mins of new material per session. We’re really keen to use the fact that our young musicians are very internet savvy to create an environment where Band members can listen to and analyse the work they’ve done.
The Band has a website which has information about the sessions on it and gig recordings. We’re also encouraging people to use our Facebook group where they can look at photos, discussions and listen to recordings (through tasty SoundCloud widgets) in a secure environment.
Do you have anything else to add in roughly 140 words or less?
If you’re in the UK and near London on March 12th then come along to Southbank Centre – the gig is free and starts at 5.30pm!
Also, if you know of anyone in the South London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark or Lewisham who might be interested please get in touch.
I will now leave you with one their tracks recorded last year: I ain’t leaving. Wow.