Cumbria Calling

Since 2016, our Cumbria Calling projects have been inspiring young musicians and have established an ever-growing young composer group in the county.

Cumbria Calling is a partnership between Cumbria Music Hub and Orchestras Live that enables young people across Cumbria to create, compose and perform with the support of professional orchestras and producers. It is designed to develop and raise the performance and composition skills of young people across the county, targeting those not currently engaged in local music programmes and signposting further education and career pathways in the creative industries.

Developed from initial partnership projects from 2016, Cumbria Calling aimed to create a young composers group in Cumbria. We set out to create a programme that would be led and directed by young people and that touches on a range of genres across residencies and workshops with professional musicians. The programme also involved Cumbria Youth Orchestra (CYO), with a long term aim to transform the group into a more creative ensemble. CYO have performed the new repertoire created by their peers and during 2021, alongside other young Cumbria musicians, took part in our national Share Sound project, creating and recording their own new work.

Each Cumbria Calling project explores different themes as the inspiration for the co-creative work. These have ranged from developing narrative works about their place, delving into the poetry and landscapes of Wordsworth to exploring the music of video games.

It was great. I've really enjoyed all aspects of the project. I have made new friends and learnt so much about writing music and how an orchestra works.

~ Project participant

What we did

Since 2015 our partnership with Cumbria Music Hub has:

  • Created 13 new pieces of music, highlighting the creative voice of Cumbrian young people
  • Reached over 1,800 young people as participants
  • Produced 11 concerts, 2 films and 10 film screenings
  • Reached over 8,500 live and digital audiences that heard the young people’s new music
  • Reached over 20,000 people with Encountering Wordsworth through exhibitions and BBC Radio Cumbria broadcasts exploring the project.


  • Tales of Cumberland (2016/17) - Manchester Camerata, Andy Smith. Created a 3-movement multi-genre suite for orchestra and turntables.
  • Tales of Eden (2017/18) - Manchester Camerata, Andy Smith. Created a song cycle for primary schools to learn and perform with the orchestra and CYO.
  • Coastal Connections (2018/19) - Manchester Camerata, Andy Smith. Created Spirit of Adventure exploring the stories of Whitehaven. Young people curated and presented primary school concerts.
  • Encountering Wordsworth (2019-2021) - Manchester Camerata, Laura Bowler. An inclusive music, poetry and multi-media project as part of Reimagining Wordsworth. The new piece was created but the premiere was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and subsequently toured Cumbria as a film screening and exhibition at Wordsworth Grasmere.
  • Share Sound (2021) - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, James Redwood, Yshani Perinpanayagam. An online ensemble music-making project with CYO, Cockermouth Music Centre and Soundwaves.
  • Cumbria Calling / Share Sound (2021/22) - Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Alice Phelps, James Redwood. The young composers group created Corvus and Dorian Jam, inspired by a musical story created from their photographs of Cumbria and its folk music heritage. Building on the pandemic projects, CYO’s programme included a live performance of the Share Sound works alongside premiere’s of the new works.
  • Gaming Adventures (2023/24) - The Manchester Video Game Orchestra, Andy Smith. Working with secondary schools in the Furness peninsula young people have created 4 new pieces to a video game visual, developed from their brief to perform live with MVGO.

Small group workshop as part of the Cumbria Calling 2017/18 residential weekend with Manchester Camerata practitioner and principle flute, Amina Hussain.

Group of students playing instruments

Students at Ulverston Victoria High School during a workshop as part of Cumbia Calling 2023/24 with the Manchester Video Game Orchestra.

The experience was a true awakening and inspiration in my love for orchestral composition; something which I am continuing to develop now…. To this day I still think about the experiences I had there, the fun I had, friends I made, the privilege to share a space with such talent and the inspiration it has given me.

~ 2022 project participant

It was fantastic to hear the pieces in their final form. Really very special. Thank you so much for inviting him to be part of this project. He's really enjoyed it and it's fuelled his passion for music further.

~ Parent of a project participant

Before I’d participated in Cumbria Calling I’d avoid sharing my ideas because I felt they probably weren’t good enough however Cumbria Calling has helped me to be more open with my ideas because we would go round the group each person sharing an idea. This was really beneficial for me and I found my ideas were taken taken into consideration and included and this has greatly increased my confidence.

~ Participating young composer

Partners, performers and venues

Orchestras Live, Cumbria Music Service, Manchester Camerata, The Hadfield Trust, Hawse End Residential Centre, The Sands Centre, Trinity School, Cumbria Youth Orchestra, Cumbria Youth Choir, Rosehill Theatre, Lakes College Distington, Wordsworth Grasmere, Cumbria Development Education Centre, Laura Bowler, Dan Fox, Sandgate School, Fairfield, Grasmere and St Cuthbert’s Windermere Primary Schools.