It is now common knowledge that music is important for the development of the brain. Countless studies have demonstrated that music is fundamental to a child’s intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual development, and that children who learn to play a musical instrument do better in other disciplines, such as mathematics, languages, and creative writing.
But our investment in music education is likely at its lowest ever. Children are less likely than ever to witness a viola being played live at all, well or otherwise.
Enter the Nonesuch Orchestra. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021, the orchestra’s initial aim was to further music appreciation among young people through the provision of live, semi-professional performances in schools, colleges and local communities.
Music education is still at the heart of the Nonesuch Orchestra. Made up of a mix of amateur, student and professional musicians, the orchestra visits five or six schools a year with a concert workshop lasting around an hour in which primary-school children are introduced to the string orchestra and to a wide range of music. The highlight is often when pupils perform with the orchestra.
Their newest venture, this year in collaboration with CoMA (Contemporary Music for All), is a composition project working with GCSE and A-level composition students to provide them with the opportunity to write for a string orchestra and to record the results. Composer Andrew Toovey will be on hand to assist.
At the end of the day, the pieces will be performed in a concert primarily for local secondary schools. They may also appear in the programme for a public concert, in conjunction with the orchestra’s performance of a CoMA commission from Sally Beamish and other women composers from the 20th century.
The orchestra’s work with schools has never been more important. In far too many schools, music is becoming a casualty of competing demands on school time and budgets. At their school workshops, the Nonesuch Orchestra aims to share the excitement and enrichment of live classical music with children of every background, and they hope to encourage as many young people as possible to embark on learning to play an instrument.
Their lunchtime public concerts are often free of charge to the audience and bring excellent music-making and exciting repertoire to the community.
They now seek financial support to help them to continue this vital work. If you are able to help, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. Also please get in touch if you’re a school or a music hub and would like the Nonesuch Orchestra to play for your children. Please see the Support and Outreach pages at www.nonesuchorchestra.org.uk.