First Time Live – Youth (strategic touring project)

Research by the Association of British Orchestras suggests that as many as 60% of young people in England have never experienced a live orchestral concert. Whilst many of the UK’s professional orchestras include schools concerts as part of their annual programmes, most do not tour these programmes beyond their home base. Furthermore, there are very varying levels of participation and active engagement to make the concert experience engaging and long-lasting.

First Time Live - YouthFirst Time Live – Youth sought to address this by delivering a project that confronted the barriers that prevent young people attending orchestral concerts. By involving young people in the promotion and organisation of the events, it sought to impart an insight into the presentation of orchestral music, to create a legacy of commitment and enthusiasm to engage with concerts in the future.

First Time Live - YouthUsing a musical repertoire chosen in part by the young people themselves, the project aimed to dispel misconceptions about orchestral music, bringing about positive attitudinal change amongst the young audiences, to ensure their first-time concert experience has long-term impact.

In 2013 and 2014, the project brought twenty inspiring, high-quality orchestral concerts to nearly 12,000 young people aged between 10 and 14 years, living in ten locations in England that fall in the bottom 20% for arts engagement. All the concerts involved young people in the selection of some of the repertoire, performing in and presenting the concert.

The project aimed to:

  • Enable better access to high quality musical work for young people, many of whom are not engaged in the arts and who live in culturally underserved areas.
  • Deliver a consistent experience that is relevant to and informed by its audience, with a view to making the live concert experience as impactful as possible.
  • Establish and sustain relationships between promoters, orchestras, the new music education hubs and audiences, in order that orchestral touring and audiences can grow and thrive in the target areas.
  • Help inform and influence the way that live orchestral music is programmed and presented to young people.

The project involved:

  • A tour of large-scale concerts featuring a programme of pieces designed to be relevant to and inspirational for, the audiences of young people, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to young people in Hull, Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Doncaster and of medium-scale chamber orchestra concerts by City of London Sinfonia to young people in Luton, Harlow, Thurrock, March, Peterborough and Mansfield.
  • An integral programme of three workshops and a concert rehearsal in each locality, facilitated by Music Leaders to enable young people (Young Producers) to engage directly with orchestral musicians and contribute to the programming and production of the concerts, and to act as ambassadors for the concerts.
  • A partnership with Makewaves, the leading network platform available to the target age group, to deliver interactive online resources that enable the young people and their schools to learn and to share across the touring network.
  • Lasting relationships and collaborations forged between participating orchestras, schools, animateurs, venues, the relevant Music Education Hubs and other participants and organisations, with a view to the development of further concerts for young people and the development of younger audiences for orchestral concerts in the future.

Download the First Time Live – Youth Evaluation Report Summary