Share Sound

Share Sound was a major project developed to keep young people engaged in ensemble music making during the Covid-19 crisis. It enabled professional orchestras to work with Music Hubs and explore the digital creative space for ensemble music making.

The Share Sound story

Share Sound provided a unique opportunity to create new inclusive ensembles which let young people compose, produce, perform and record new music digitally. Youth voice and co-creation was at the heart of the project, which set out to attract a wide range of young musicians including those playing in different genres and from diverse backgrounds who might not have been involved in traditional youth ensembles before.

Six of our partner Music Hubs were involved - Cumbria, Durham and Darlington, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk - along with professional orchestras Chineke! Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Led by Artistic Director James Redwood, a team of music leaders, orchestral players, Music Hub tutors and Digital Producer Will Roberts, supported a series of online creative workshops with the participants in each area.

Read the Share Sound Impact Report

Watch the digital productions

Over 9 months, we brought together over 250 young people from 6 counties to work with: 30 musicians from 3 professional orchestras, 1 Artistic Director and 5 Associate Music Leaders, 4 digital producers and 41 tutors from 6 Music Education Hubs.

Working entirely online, the young people and professional musicians shared thoughts and ideas to create 10 new collaborative pieces of music. Together they formed 6 inclusive virtual ensembles and were joined by 132 primary school students to produce and record a total of 12 digital productions.

We shared these in a special live-streamed Grand Finale in July 2021. The digital productions have been watched more than 3,000 times.


Digital delivery meant that:

  • Everyone had an equal voice, and some young people felt able to contribute in ways they wouldn’t have in a live workshop
  • We were able to include all young people who wanted to take part, as ensembles weren’t limited by size or geography

Even though I haven't met anyone here, I feel as though I can speak up and have a say whereas I would usually be more shy.

~ Participant

Creating new music together meant that:

  • We could include a wide range of instruments and styles, as music was being written by and with each bespoke group
  • Music Hubs discovered new talent within their inclusive groups though exploring composition together

Tutors got to see the young people in a new light - as creative people and not just performers.

~ Music Hub

Our commitment to youth-led work meant that:

  • Young people had a real stake in the music they were producing and could hear their contributions in the final piece
  • Confidence and skills increased, inspiring young people to continue making and writing music after the project

I sent something in, and I had no idea it would be featured in the piece and that just boosted my confidence levels and made me believe in myself more than I ever knew.

~ Participant

Our unique producer role meant that:

  • Such a significant scale of project could be initiated within a short space of time, bringing together multiple partners from across England to work collaboratively
  • We could facilitate creative digital learning opportunities with our partners, testing new approaches to inform future work, and ensuring high production values

The only national organisation that could have done all this was Orchestras Live because your organisation would always celebrate the most important element – the children and young people! Amazing! You should all be immensely proud of what you have achieved... My only sadness was that we weren’t involved – no criticism there – just jealousy!

~ Audience feedback from industry partner

What next?

Although Share Sound set out to engage young people digitally, it was always our intention to be able to bring the inclusive ensembles together when restrictions were lifted. The high production values of the co-created pieces have already translated into 8 live performances where the young people and professional musicians were able to meet in person as a full ensemble.

As we return to meeting and performing together in person, Share Sound will continue to shape future activity:

  • Our Music Hub partners are continuing exploring the benefits of digital, offering multi-genre ensembles and giving their young people more opportunities for creative input.
  • Collaborative partnerships initiated through Share Sound will continue to develop, including a partnership between Lincolnshire Music Service and Chineke! Orchestra supporting creative composition, and an extension of the partnership between Suffolk special schools and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment to develop parallel inclusive ensembles in Suffolk and London.
  • The new co-created pieces are being included in youth orchestra repertoire with more performances planned, and a greater focus by youth ensembles on performing co-created work.
  • We will continue to apply our learning and skills to future projects and advocate for blended digital/in-person delivery where this can increase access and inclusion.
  • We will continue to champion the diverse talent of the Share Sound Associate Music Leaders discovered through this project.

I feel the legacy of Share Sound is that we have all explored effective digital learning which can be applied as we move forward, and I know in many areas new projects are emerging as a result. Being involved in a large-scale national project was important and the live sharings were joyous.

~ Share Sound orchestra partner


Share Sound reflections...

Participants' reflections

Participants talk to Senior Creative Producer Jan Ford, Artistic Director James Redwood and Digital Producer Will Roberts. They talk about whether the project has changed their perceptions of an orchestra, what their project highlights were and what they've learned.

Artistic team reflections

Ishani O’Connor, Learning and Participation Manager for the Chineke! Foundation, and Rosie Bergonzi, Share Sound Associate Music Leader, reflect on their project experiences and the creativity of the young people they worked with...

Tea Break with James Redwood

In our second episode of Tea Break, Orchestras Live Senior Creative Producer, Stuart Bruce shares a tea break with Share Sound Artistic Director, James Redwood as they discuss working together on Share Sound and how the project has developed so far.

Tea Break with Grace Utting

In our fifth episode of Tea Break, Orchestras Live Senior Creative Producer, Stuart Bruce chats with Grace Utting, one of our Share Sound music leaders and an OAE Young Artist, about accessibility in the orchestral sector.


Read our Share Sound updates tracking the progress of the project...


Share Sound is produced by Orchestras Live in partnership with Cumbria Music Hub, Durham Music Service, Lincolnshire Music Service, Norfolk Music Hub, Inspire (Nottinghamshire Music Hub), Suffolk Music Education Hub and Chineke! Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It is a national project supported by Arts Council England, the Weston Culture Fund (Garfield Weston Foundation), The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation and The Radcliffe Trust. Share Sound Durham is additionally supported by the Scops Arts Trust and the Foyle Foundation.

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