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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 00:12 GMT 01:12 UK
Pupils get free concert tickets
french horns
The orchestras also want to boost community music-making
England's eight top symphony orchestras are jointly promising that they will give every schoolchild free entry to a classical music concert.

The goal is part of a 10-year plan to promote classical music, which includes a prize for budding composers.

The organisers fear that with a crowded curriculum and tight budgets, music easily gets squeezed out of timetables.

They say it enriches children's lives, teaches the value of sustained effort and can help disruptive youngsters.

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor, Marin Alsop, said: "When I was a kid, I was a bit of a trouble-maker. Then I started taking violin lessons.

"What it did for me was it gave me a feeling of self-esteem because I did something that was unique.

"It gave me a sense that to achieve something in life you have to put some hours in.

"There is not this immediacy that kids sometimes expect. They expect they will be a football star, or win the lottery.

"When you practise something it takes time."


She said live music "unlocks possibility and imagination in a world where everything is television-based and everything is prescribed, like video games".

As well as Ms Alsop the scheme has the backing of:
Sakari Oramo, music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski from the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Valery Gergiev, the London Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor
Christoph von Dohnanyi, principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra
Vasily Petrenko from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Daniele Gatti, music director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Mark Elder, music director of The Halle.

Their campaign, Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st century, promises within 10 years they will:

  • Aim to perform live for every child, during their time at school, free of charge
  • Establish a new high-profile prize for excellence and innovation in classical music
  • Make Britain the world centre for orchestral composition
  • Ensure that orchestras reflect their local communities
  • Double the number of people involved in community music-making
  • Support UK trade missions abroad with orchestral "cultural missions".
A joint statement said: "This unique collaboration is a manifestation of our orchestras' energy and determination to reach out and invite new generations to appreciate the power of performance, and experience at first hand the value of great symphonic music.

"At its heart is excellence. Our orchestras will ensure that this excellence is shared with even more music lovers, communities and young people both in the concert hall and far beyond."

Right note

A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Skills agreed that as well as being a worthwhile activity for its own sake, music was "a powerful learning tool which can build children's confidence, teamwork and language skills".

"A better musical education for pupils can also help them hit the right note in their studies," a spokesman said.

Among other things, the government has announced an extra 10m to boost music education, especially school singing, both in and out of school hours.

In part, this will fund a national singing campaign for primary schools - led by Howard Goodall.

Music education 'still a lottery'
17 Oct 06 |  Education
Schools rock to music masterclass
16 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
'Mercury Prize for kids' launched
12 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
School music lessons 'manifesto'
06 Jul 04 |  Education


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