Orchestras Live has been evolving for more than 50 years, during which time it has grown to hold a central place in the country’s orchestral ecology whilst retaining key founding principles at its heart.
In the beginning
From the outset - in 1965 as the Eastern Authorities Orchestral Association - the organisation concentrated its efforts on redressing an imbalance of cultural investment and provision in local and regional communities; specifically the East and East Midlands. Twenty-one years later, the organisation rebranded as the Eastern Orchestral Board, expanding its role to encompass education, audience development, commissioning new work and co-producing diverse, creative projects. Those activities are still central to our work, as is the guiding principle that everything we do is collaborative, devised with partners to address local need.
A national outlook
As the organisation developed, it began to branch out beyond its initial geographical remit, supporting touring initiatives that enabled chamber orchestras to be heard in more remote and rural areas across England.
A big change came in 2007 when the organisation adopted a new constitution as an independent entity, no longer structurally aligned to local authority investors, and relaunched as Orchestras Live. With an expanded remit and national status, the organisation nevertheless retained strong links with local authorities which have proved resilient, in spite of the significant cuts to public funding of recent years. We are proud of our relationships with local authorities serving culturally under-served communities and are motivated by a shared ambition to engage their residents in the highest quality orchestral experiences. In recent years we have branched out to form new partnerships with bodies such as Music Education Hubs, social health and welfare providers and cultural consortia.
Orchestras Live today
After more than 50 years we remain the only organisation of our kind working in the orchestral sector. Our passion that people from all backgrounds, areas and ages should have the opportunity to participate in and be inspired by the highest quality orchestral provision continues to drive everything we do. The evidence we have amassed from nearly six decades of developmental orchestral activity demonstrates the truth behind our belief that orchestras are for everyone.
As we work to achieve our vision – that high quality orchestral music is widely accessible throughout England, relevant to local communities and providing inspiration for people of all ages and backgrounds – we remain artistically ambitious, supporting risk and ensuring that learning is fed back into future delivery. Whilst we are proud of the steps we have taken with our partners we know that there is much still to be done to engage new audiences, break down social, economic and demographic barriers to access and support the development of an orchestral profession that reflects the diversity of today’s society.
Success for us at Orchestras Live comes from applying the same broad methodology to every project we co-produce, regardless of geographical location or background of communities, at the heart is a “with” not “for”approach – we don’t helicopter in with the finished project, we come with an idea that is yet to take shape and act as the creative intermediary between audiences and artists.
- We place real people at the heart of an orchestral project: to act as producers of a live orchestral event with significant role in the project design
- We create an experience that is relevant to, and informed by participants, so that experience is impactful and brings positive attitudinal change amongst audiences.
- We enable people to gain industry skills, experience and accreditation through working alongside professionals for their long-term musical engagement
- We inform and influence promoters, sharing ways that live orchestral music is presented for communities
- We develop a model of work that can help sustain relationships between promoters, orchestras, music education hubs and audiences, so live orchestral music can thrive
The coming years will see Orchestras Live producing work that trials new concert formats, develops new music leaders, engages children and young people in inspirational orchestral experiences, promotes inclusive practice and puts communities and participants at the centre of the creative process. We will work with artistic partners – orchestras and promoters – who align with our Partnership Principles of Excellence, Inclusion, Relevance and Legacy, are professionally curious and committed to continuous improvement.