The Wish

Designed to introduce orchestral instruments in a vivid and relevant way, The Wish was designed as a 21st century take on the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

What we wanted to achieve

An original commission by Orchestras Live, City of London Sinfonia and The Mix (Luton Music Hub), The Wish was conceived with the aim of inspiring young children to engage with music and take up an instrument whilst supporting learning at Key Stage One. It was created by composer John K Miles and specialist music leader Claire Henry in 2017, bringing together their different experience and skills from orchestral projects they had realised over many years with Orchestras Live.

What happened

The initial project consisted of 25 taster workshops and two performances by 30 musicians from City of London Sinfonia.

Following the 2017 premiere performances in Luton, Orchestras Live produced the touring project for 2018, the Big Wish, responding to demand from neighbouring Music Education Hubs – Inspiring Music (Central Bedfordshire) and Music for Bedford Borough – together with continued involvement by Luton.

2019 involved further music hub participation with Milton Keynes Music Hub, and greater CPD opportunities for teachers, instrumental tutors and professional artists alongside a tour of nine concert performances.

It was like being inside an adventure!

~ primary school audience member


So far, The Wish has reached more than 6,000 children and had an impact on interest in learning an instrument as well as a wider interest in orchestral music.

Staff at Inspiring Music (Central Bedfordshire) reported a 103% increase in pupils taking up an orchestral instrument following the project in 2018.

16 local young musicians
have also taken part in concerts, gaining skills through rehearsing and performing alongside members of the professional orchestra.

They really helped me out in my flute skills, they helped me to improve my sound and they told me a lot of helpful tips that allowed me to do that. And I hope to do well in my grade 8 soon.

~ Freddie, young musician

For children who have never seen a live orchestra or been to a professional venue before this project was truly inspiring and for me the sheer joy and engagement of the children was very moving. The educational impact and careful crafting of the experience swept the children along in a joyful ride, allowing them to experience and manipulate the tempo, dynamics, pulse, tonality and mood of the music, with a bit of conducting thrown in!

~ Diane Love, Music for Bedford Borough

Future plans

As an effective, tried and tested model we hope to take The Wish production to other areas across the country in the future. A legacy of the work in Luton will see a new version of Billy’s Band, another excellent project, with Sinfonia Verdi workshops at schools and family concerts at Luton Music Centre in 2021.


The Wish was commissioned by Orchestras Live and The Mix (Luton Music Hub) and created by Claire Henry and John K Miles. The Wish projects have been produced in collaboration with The Mix (Luton Music Hub), Music for Bedford Borough, Inspiring Music (Central Bedfordshire), Milton Keynes Music Hub, City of London Sinfonia and Sinfonia Verdi.

Read our recent evaluation reports: