New Connections

Our partnership programme with Leeds Conservatoire providing students with training and experience in orchestral community music making.

What do we want to achieve?

We began working with Leeds Conservatoire in 2022 to develop a three-year partnership working with Conservatoire students. Students gain skills and expertise in music leadership in community settings through an action learning programme with a professional orchestra and community groups in Leeds.

The first year of activity in 2023 tested a pilot project as part of the Conservatoire’s Knowledge Exchange programme. The external evaluation underpins how the future partnership will develop and how this can contribute to Leeds Conservatoire’s exploration of the concept of Artistic Citizenship.

What did we do?

Our first collaborative project took a group of students from a range of study pathways on a learning journey with Manchester Camerata. This included:

  • In depth skills development training from leading music leaders James Redwood and Amina Hussain, as well as Manchester Camerata musicians, and attending our Skills Lab North workshop.
  • Creative projects putting students’ skills into practice as part of the artistic team working with a range of community groups to co-create new orchestral music.
  • Co-designing and delivering a culmination concert with community groups, Manchester Camerata and members of Leeds Conservatoire New Music Collective, premiering the new music at The Venue, Leeds Conservatoire.

Through New Connections, we have developed new community partnerships in Leeds with:

  • Made with Music, an award-winning charity providing accessible live music for families of all ages and abilities.
  • Meeting Point Leeds, a charity that provides practical and emotional support for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Burley and Woodhead Church of England Primary School.

Individual projects were tailored to each group to co-create new music, before bringing them all together for the final performance to celebrate new partnerships, new music and new voices.

Outcomes

  • 93% of participant survey respondents rated their experience of the project as very good, 7% as good.
  • 89% of audience survey respondents had a good time, were proud of their community and felt the concert had a positive impact on their own wellbeing.
  • 88% of participant survey respondents said that they did something they didn’t know they were capable of.
  • 89% of participant survey respondents said the project made them feel more confident about doing new things.
  • 3 new pieces of co-created music.

New Connections was evaluated by Kirsty Halliday of Red Sands Arts Management. Her detailed report provides valuable insights and points to the key building blocks that all organisations involved in supporting musicians’ skills development should incorporate into their practice.

The report concludes that orchestral co-creation is an effective way to create cultural value with communities and delivers positive impacts for participants. Alongside this, key findings outline the core elements of co-creative musical practice and the skills required by musicians to deliver this work. The findings will inform the future development of the New Connections programme.

New Connections evaluation report

New Connections is co-produced by Leeds Conservatoire and Orchestras Live.

Creative team: Music leaders James Redwood and Amina Hussain, Manchester Camerata and Leeds New Music Collective.