Side by Side in Luton

Side by Side

The partnership between Orchestras Live, Luton Music Service and The Mix (Luton Music Education Hub) has been a creative evolution over several years since our original First Time Live – Youth strategic tour saw City of London Sinfonia hold schools’ concerts there in 2013, featuring young people in the production and delivery of the concerts. Since then a series of projects have focussed on different groups of young musicians in Luton.

In 2014, 310 young musicians from Whole Class Ensemble Tuition (WCET) groups at 19 schools were involved in workshops with composer John K Miles and CLS musicians, helping to create the Carnival Suite of pieces suitable for all of these young instrumental groups to perform alongside the professional orchestra, culminating in two concerts at the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, with live streaming to 41 schools across Luton as well as international dissemination of this new ‘repertoire’ through Charanga.

In 2015, the focus shifted to a combination of advanced ensembles – Luton Youth Jazz Orchestra, Luton Youth Concert Band and Luton Youth Cantores – and on newly formed groups – a steel band at Foxdell Junior School and a group of young people with additional needs using assistive music technologies at Lady Zia Wernher Special School. This collaborative work catered for a wider range of technical ability as well as greater inclusivity with the diverse participant groups. In both projects, students from Luton Sixth Form College acted as young producers, some of whom gained Arts Award accreditation at Bronze level through their various creative roles.

The latest project, Side by Side, has targeted some 200 young musicians who attend Luton’s Saturday Morning Music School. Following consultation with the young people and their tutors, John K Miles has made special arrangements of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (first movement) and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, linking with the BBC’s Ten Pieces national scheme.

An additional strand of the project has seen workshops with a group of hearing impaired young people at Icknield Primary School to create their own music for inclusion in the performances. The ‘re-imaginings’ and devised work will be premiered in CLS concerts for school and community audiences at UKCCA on 15 July 2016, with young producers again helping to manage and document the final events.

In this instance, the benefits of Orchestras Live building a strategic partnership over time has led not only to a ‘ladder of progression’ of bespoke orchestral repertoire for young musicians in Luton but also has given young people a real stake in the shaping and delivery of the projects to make them relevant to young participants and audiences in this diverse community.