Classically Yours

In 2018, Orchestras Live won the RPS (Royal Philharmonic Society) Music Award for Audiences and Engagement, with our partner East Riding of Yorkshire Council, for our flagship project, Classically Yours.

What we wanted to achieve

Classically Yours is a programme of high quality live orchestral music in the East Riding which aims to bring the best of British orchestras to the region.

Participation is at the heart of Classically Yours, with opportunities for people of all ages to work with professional orchestras, creating and performing music together.

Originally conceived for Hull UK City of Culture in 2017, Classically Yours aims to engage new audiences by addressing the inequalities of opportunity to access live orchestral music in the East Riding of Yorkshire; an Arts Council England levelling up for culture area.

Many people in the region are unable to access world-class orchestral music due to living in geographically dispersed communities with limited public transport and minimal cultural infrastructure. We set out to work with local communities and Manchester Camerata and Sinfonia Viva, to start to offer opportunities to engage with orchestral music, and to begin to transform people's perceptions of classical music.

Our ongoing Classically Yours programme includes:

  • Creative projects with communities and schools
  • Family programme offering engaging first-time orchestral experiences for children
  • Health & wellbeing projects and relaxed concerts for those in care settings or with health needs
  • A series of culmination events and concerts in the community

Thank you for letting my music makers be part of this amazing project. It has rekindled my desire to get music out to communities and made me realise that what I do in my corner of the county is valuable and essential in bringing people together.

~ Project participant group leader

What we did

The target project audience is young people, families, older people, people with disabilities and voluntary music-making groups living in isolated coastal and rural areas; communities where aspirations have been undermined by lack of opportunity and a belief that culture happens elsewhere.

We want to transform these long held beliefs. Working collaboratively with Manchester Camerata and Sinfonia Viva, we initially devised an interconnected programme of participatory and concert activities in consultation with local music organisations.

Activities have engaged older people in care homes, community and school choirs, pre-school aged children, a learning disability theatre group and the County Youth Orchestra; activities ranged from regular creative workshops to performance opportunities.

Classically Yours continues to grow, focused on building and deepening partnerships with local community groups, ensuring their voice is a key part of our programme planning.

Our projects in Withernsea have certainly helped me realise why I do what I do. I have been humbled to witness the impact live music and creativity can have on children, young people, parents, teachers and the elderly. These projects prove what is possible when someone is given the chance. We have opened minds and I am proud to have been part of it.

~ Robert Guy, conductor


Our impact report for the first four years of Classically Yours reviewed our evidence and learning and has informed the development of the programme. We continue to actively evaluate the programme and embed learning into the planning process.

Between 2016-2020 our partnerships have:

  • Significantly increased the number of concerts and orchestras programmed in East Riding each year, from a baseline of 2 per year to 40 concerts over four years by six different orchestras. This has substantially improved the range and quality of the classical music offer.
  • Developed and sustained new audiences in the East Riding, where new audiences rose from a previous 4% to 25% in Year 1. In Year 2 repeat mailing list bookers rose from 8.5% to 20%. In years 3 and 4, Classically Yours continued to reach new audiences and maintain repeat booker levels of 12-14%.
  • Embedded a new creative participation strand across orchestral activity that has been key to supporting audience development and attracting new audiences. 217 workshops have been delivered over four years, engaging 35 school/community groups. 43% of these engaged with Classically Yours more than once.
People dancing in front of an orchestra on a stage.

The Hallé performing at Bridlington Spa as part of Classically Yours.

Credit: Jan Ford
  • Co-created 17 new pieces of music with participants.
  • Stimulated live music audiences in Withernsea, a small 6,000-strong community with no previous track record of concert-going, sustained into Year 3 with 22% new bookers for concerts.
  • Discovered large latent demand for orchestral music with families with younger children through a new strand of programming for family audiences.
  • Seen positive impact on community cohesion and artistic ambition.

We believe our RPS win was a watershed moment for community engagement. The RPS Music Awards are the highest recognition for live classical music in this country – the Oscars of the music sector – and our win placed projects truly driven by their local participants alongside the most prestigious orchestral venues and programmes in the UK.

Download our Impact Report for Classically Yours 2016-2020:

A great evening which was magical. The idea of bringing teenagers, the elderly & this wonderful orchestra was superb. What an emotional evening.

~ Audience Member, 2023

Partners, performers and venues

Orchestras Live, East Riding of Yorkshire Council (Arts, Community and Public Health), East Riding Music Education Hub, ReMarkable Arts, Manchester Camerata, Sinfonia Viva, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, The Hallé, The Multi-Story Orchestra, Kate Pearson, James Redwood, Richard Taylor, Tim Steiner, Bridlington Spa, Toll Gavel Church Beverley, Meridian Centre Withernsea, Pocklington Arts Centre, Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation.