Tag Archives: education

L’Chaim: Living Music

This August, we set off on another of our successful L’Chaim tours around care homes in North London, offering concerts for Jewish residential homes in partnership with Jewish Care.

The houses were originally set up to provide sheltered housing for elderly Jewish Holocaust survivors or refugees. Each home has a shared space where residents come together to socialise and our concerts help to bring people together in these spaces, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness amongst the older people.

A string quartet from CLS visited seven different homes, playing a specially programmed concert of classical favourites, lighter popular songs and arrangements of Jewish melodies. The audiences varied in size but staff told us that many residents hear and appreciate the music from their own rooms – some of the audience were so enthusiastic that they couldn’t resist the urge to get up and dance to some of the Klezmer tunes.

We were also lucky enough to hear thoughts and stories from residents in a few of the homes over a cup of tea and cake – it was a privilege to get to know the residents and we’re looking forward to our next tour in November.

Want to know more about our L’Chaim projects? Watch our L’Chaim, Living Music video.


With older people, Holocaust survivors and those who are facing bereavement, our music-making helps to keep memories alive and minds active. Learn more about our Wellbeing through Music projects…

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John K Miles: First Time Live, Chelmsford

Over January–March, CLS in partnership with Orchestras Live worked with six secondary schools in Chelmsford. Students from Year 7 upwards worked with John K Miles over a series of workshops to devise a new piece to be performed at Chelmsford Civic Theatre on 17 March. Read on as John reflects on the project.

I chose to base the project on The Golden Ratio as it was a potential treasure trove of starting points for creativity. Looking at Leonardo da Vinci’s concept of physical perfection in portraiture versus today’s ’selfie culture’, we discussed The Nature of Beauty, particularly in terms of imperfection being beautiful. The resulting work formed the basis of our libretto. I also used The Golden Ratio as a musical starting point using the first five numbers in The Fibonacci Sequence 0,1,1,2,3 as a basis for rhythmic starting points. We gave particular focus to the ratio between 3 and 2 within a ‘1’. Ultimately all the rhythmic and melodic material referred to these numbers in some way.

The Nature of Beauty was composed in response to creative workshops with 130 open access participants from six Chelmsford secondary schools. The work was done over 3–4 sessions in each participating school. I supplied some musical and narrative starting points to the first session and from there we worked on playing rhythms, composing melodies and writing libretto. In response to these initial workshops I developed the main themes for the piece, which I then took back to workshop 2. From there I completed the piece and the later sessions were focused on rehearsal. The piece was scored for all participants to play alongside City of London Sinfonia.

First Time Live 2017, Chelmsford

The new piece formed the finale of a concert of popular orchestral music chosen by the participants. The concert was also presented by the participants, with input from myself and representatives of Essex Music Hub. The participants came from a range of informal and formal musical backgrounds. Some could read music, others could not. The level of musical experience was varied, but for many it was their first experience of playing with, and listening to a professional orchestra.

Using a creative approach allowed us to work on the balance between bespoke challenge and enjoyment and the outcome was a huge success. The participants performed brilliantly in the final concert and it felt like we’d set them up to succeed in a professional performance context. I hope the schools enjoyed working together to make music alongside a top class professional orchestra! I have personally been very inspired by the possibilities that we began to explore together in this project and I hope to develop this project further in the future.

Watch some of the final performance of The Nature of Beauty in a video filmed and edited by students involved in the project:



Find out more about our educational and community-driven projects in our Meet the Music programme on the CLS website.

Our year in pictures – 2015

It was quite a year at CLS. We began 2015 with our Émigré series, full of music by composers who travelled the globe looking for fame and fortune, new artistic experiences, or just a safe place to call home. We did some travelling of our own when we visited Mexico in the spring, before setting up camp once again with Opera Holland Park over the summer. This autumn saw the beginning of our RE:Imagine series, which explores composers’ new interpretations and perspectives on existing works. Take a stroll with us down memory lane and see some of our highlights from 2015…

With the help of some brilliant cat gifs, we channelled our inner dancers for the tango-inspired CLoSer: To and From Buenos Aires. We also reminded ourselves just how weird cats can be!

The real dancers who joined us for the concert were brilliant, though!

 

In April, Russian-born New York composer and violist Ljova joined us for a special residency. He delighted us all with his beautiful blend of classical music, Russian folk, Klezmer and jazz, reflecting his own émigré roots. In anticipation of his arrival, we all thought up our favourite viola jokes…

Continue reading Our year in pictures – 2015

A dive into the CLS Education archive…

Founded in 1988, we are proud that our education and outreach programme, Meet the Music  was one of the first to be established by a UK orchestra. This week we took a dive into our photo archive, and found some amazing pictures of some projects we were involved in back in the late 80s and early 90s. We hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we did!

Continue reading A dive into the CLS Education archive…

CLS Patron, Dame Felicity Lott on BBC Radio 3 In Tune

We were delighted that our Patron, Dame Felicity Lott appeared on BBC Radio 3 In Tune this week to talk about her new ambassadorial role with the Orchestra, particularly in relation to our education and wellbeing programme Meet the Music. Performing Schumann and Frank Bridge live in the studio, she talked about the joys she has had with us so far working with young people in our Key Stage 1 education projects as well as her plans for 2015.

You can hear the whole programme on catch up on BBC IPlayer or download the podcast.

Our Principal Conductor and acclaimed clarinettist, Michael Collins was also on In Tune last week (ahead of a concert with the Philharmonia at the RFH). He speaks about his performances, recordings and also his work with us and the direction of CLS. You can listen to this programme here.

Month in Pictures – October and November!

This Autumn has been a jam-packed season for us at CLS, with our concert series, Shakespeare: Let Music Sound, and lots of education work, including our Lullaby concert tour and Youth Takeover project in association with Orchestras Live in Spalding (we recently worked out that the Orchestra spent an astonishing 86 days in the community this quarter!). In other news this season, we are delighted to have announced Dame Felicity Lott as our new Patron and were thrilled to have her perform two private recitals for CLS Friends at Blain|Southern, preceding her involvement with our outreach projects in Tower Hamlets and Harrow during the next coming weeks. For some of our favourite moments from the time so far, just scroll down!

 

Our Autumn concert series, Shakespeare: Let Music Sound, celebrated Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary through a variety of concerts weaving together play text, live acting and music inspired by the Bard himself. Some of our favourite snaps from the season can be found below, including pre-concert naps, the watchful eye of the Bard himself and the remains of our  librarian’s (slightly hectic!) preparations for our performance of Shostakovich’s Hamlet at Village Underground. To find out more about our next concert seasons, Émigré visit our website.

 

A highlight of our Autumn programme was Last Train to Tomorrow, a performance to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport, presented by our friends at the Association of Jewish Refugees at the Roundhouse. A number of the Kinder (the name given to the survivors of the Kindertransport) were in attendance at the concert, as was HRH The Prince of Wales, who has long championed their cause. The audience consisted of the Kinder’s own children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other supporters.

 

On 12 November we hosted an exclusive CLS Friends event at Blain|Southern art gallery with CLS leader, Alexandra Wood, Principal Conductor and clarinettist Michael Collins and Dame Felicity Lott. As her first public performance with us as CLS Patron, Felicity was on brilliant form and we hope those of you who joined us enjoyed the evening! Alongside some comedic arias and repertoire by Spohr, the headline piece was Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock, a piece that Michael and Felicity first performed together 30 years ago!

 

As part of our longstanding partnership with Orchestras Live, our education team were in Spalding last month working alongside Youth Takeover, a group of young producers resident at South Holland Centre to present a concert based on a unique concept. Working with CLS musicians and composer John K Miles, local young musicians and bands curated a concert calledLifetime – redefining the concert experience’. It was fantastic project to be involved in, and the culminatory concert on 26 November was brilliant. A huge well done to all involved!

 

Our education team have been all around the country this term, with our Lullaby concert tour to Suffolk in October, workshops with Freshwater’s Academy,  and lunchtime concerts at St Thomas’ hospital, London. As you can see, some of the props went slightly crazy at times, and even made their way into the office!

 

Lullaby Tour Suffolk 2014

During the last week of October, our education team went on a week-long tour of Suffolk and Essex for this year’s Lullaby Concert tour organised in collaboration with Orchestras Live. Beginning in Clacton-on-Sea and ending in Stowmarket, Suffolk, the concerts—presented by Claire Henry, animateur—aimed to bring first time live orchestral music experiences to some of the most under-served areas across England. According to recent figures, we are delighted to say that we reached over 1200 young people in 12 concerts!

Centred on the theme of ‘The Enchanted Forest’, Claire and City of London Sinfonia musicians took the young audience on a musical journey using a combination of music-making and engaging story-telling (which included instruments being stuck on the musicians’ heads, magical jars full of music and a beautiful dancing ballerina!). Performing a range of classical pieces including Debussy’s Prélude à l’aprèsmidi d’un faune and Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the concert was presented in a way that encouraged lots of audience participation and interaction, after a series of workshops in the area.

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As you can see, some of the kids were very cute, particularly when, at the end of each concert, there was also an opportunity for them to have a go on some orchestral instruments!

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A huge thanks to everyone involved and for Paul Coghlin for taking these amazing pictures! To see all of the photos, please visit the Orchestras Live website. To read more about our Meet the Music programme please visit our website.

Like the look of this? Why not try our regular Crash Bang Wallop! family concerts? 

Crash Bang Wallop! Christmas Star 
Saturday 13 December 2014, 12 noon
Cadogan Hall, London
Tickets: £10 Adult, £8 Child, £30 Family of 4

Month in Pictures – August and September!

The last couple of months at CLS have seen the opening of our Shakespeare: Let Music Sound series this week, lots of education and community work (including the start of our Lullaby project with young children in Derbyshire), but mainly lots of burgers and lots of cake. Scroll down for some of our favourite moments!

 

In August, we headed off to Glasgow with Gwilym Simcock and our Principal Conductor and clarinetist, Michael Collins to perform Gwilym’s On a Piece of Tapestry in the City of Music at the UNESCO Commonwealth Games with New Music Biennial.

 

After our final performance at Opera Holland Park this Summer, our Concerts Manager, Becca had the glorious job of getting the scores ready to send back to the publishers. She found some hilarious markings in the parts, including an enlightening comment from the horn section making sure certain instrumentalists were still awake!

 

This beautiful picture was taken by our Chief Operating Officer, Elaine during a morning walk, marking the beginning of Autumn with low mist and frost. Get those woolly jumpers ready!

autumn arrives with mist and frost

 

Our musicians have been up and about doing lots of education and community work this month, including workshops for our Lullaby concert tour in Derbyshire (the picture where the musicians are wearing numbered hats!), First Time Live 2 legacy project in association with Orchestras Live and some concerts and workshops in Jewish Care homes as part of L’Chaim.

 

On Wednesday we opened the first of our Shakespeare: Let Music Sound Autumn concert series with a performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Southwark Cathedral with Holst Singers, baritone Neal Davies and actors Richard Hope and Emma Pallant. Here are some of our favourite snaps, if you want to see more, check out our Facebook page!

 

The team at CLS has had a bit of a change over the last few months as we’ve said a sad goodbye to our Development Manager, Ruth Mulvey and a temporary farewell to our Education Manager, Gillian who went on maternity leave. This, of course, along with the recent appointment of Nancy Hitzig, our new Philanthropy and Enterprise Manager, have been great excuses for cake, a cheeky game of ‘Guess the Baby’ and a new CLS tradition: Burger Friday!

 

In other news, our Marketing team have been talking about our CLS FIVER scheme for students and 16-25s at London Freshers Fairs, our Chief Executive, Matthew Swann, had an accident on his bike (for the record, this is not a “favourite moment”, just a memorable one!) and Elaine’s cute dogs, Dolly and Archie, spent a day lending a very helpful paw in the office!

Using Food to Teach Music

Following on from our previous education blog A Little Taste of Chef Claire’s Musical Soup, our trainee animateur Hannah Bishop wrote about her experience during our food-themed education projects, including some of the techniques the education team came up with to help children learn about music. From musical recipes to tasty-triads, I’m sure you’ll agree that some of the methods used were absolutely ingenious. Read on to find out more!

 

I was lucky enough to spend four successive Fridays with Claire Bloor, observing and supporting her work with Year One and Reception children in both Lansbury Lawrence Primary School and John Scurr Primary School. The project, entitled ‘The Fantastic Feast’, was designed around the theme of ‘food’, culminating in a concert with the City of London Sinfonia Brass Quintet.IMG_0596

During the workshops, each class designed a recipe to present to the chefs (musicians!) at the concert. Claire encouraged the children to be adventurous with their choices resulting in recipes such as ‘snake and crocodile soup’ and ‘insects and mashed potato’! Each class learned the chorus to The Chef Song, which Claire wrote, plus a verse incorporating their recipe ideas.

The concert involved the CLS brass quintet, dressed as chefs, playing different examples of music from all over the world. Claire was able to use this to link different food-types to different countries. These pieces were interspersed with each class making their musical recipe (with a lot of help from some amazing props!), singing their verse to the chefs and all the children singing the chorus. Multiple performances of the chorus, plus breaking up the music from the quintet, was a great way to ensure that the children were completely engaged throughout the hour-long concert.

“A major triad from one of the chefs meant that the food the children had cooked was good, and a minor triad meant that it was disgusting.”

IMG_0624Throughout the project, Claire had been using major and minor triads to teach the children to recognise the difference between the two. A major triad from one of the chefs meant that the food the children had cooked was good, and a minor triad meant that it was disgusting. In the workshops, Claire and I took turns to play a broken triad and the children sung it back, to either ‘yum, yum, yum!’ (major) or ‘bleugh, bleugh, bleugh!’ (minor). This was used in the concerts and each time the children were correct. It was great to see how simple and fun it can be to teach something like this to young children, without having to explain it using words.

“It was great to see how simple and fun it can be to teach something like this to young children, without having to explain it using words.”

IMG_0618I learned a huge amount working with Claire and she was very encouraging for me to lead
warm-ups and song singing in the sessions, allowing me to experience leading younger children with her support and guidance throughout. She had some great games and short-activities up her sleeve and it was invaluable to observe how she kept a group of thirty 4-6 year old children engaged for an hour each week. Many thanks to everyone at City of London Sinfonia for this brilliant opportunity.

 

If you would like to find out more about our education projects, please visit our website.

 

 

A Little Taste of Chef Claire’s Musical Soup

May has been a busy month for the education team here at the City of London Sinfonia with our ever-popular Crash Bang Wallop! family concert at Cadogan Hall on 17 May and various KS1 outreach projects in Tower Hamlets and Harrow. In this blog post, we’ll be giving you a taste of what these projects have been about, with everything from insect sandwiches to musical instrument soup. 

Led by the CLS education team and animateur-in-residence Claire Bloor, our family concerts and education projects are designed to provide an easy and accessible introduction for 3-7 year olds to classical music and instruments of the orchestra. In this series which was all about food, Claire plays a chef whose task it was to cook up the most extravagant musical concoction. A combination of musical flavours (attained from the musicians playing into the pot!), different cuisines (represented by repertoire from around the world) and the audience’s own culinary contributions (in the form of ‘recipe songs’ and ‘dishes of the day’), Chef Claire’s musical soups by the end of the concerts were certainly…..  eclectic! Sharing is caring so in this post, we’ve included some pictures, some (hilarious) lyrics to some of the recipe songs the kids composed as well as some exemplary “Dishes of the Day” from our Crash Bang Wallop! family concert. Enjoy!

N.B. We do not recommend trying any of the recipes included in this post at home. 

 

Recipe Songs

♪ This is the special of the day, but it takes like the floor!
A mixture of slugs and smelly pants and arm pits – yuck yuck! ♪

♫ Something is wrenching on my tongue and it feels an ant.
I fit in some bread and it’s very cold, it’s an ant sandwich! ♫

♪ Slimy, disgusting, super gross. Revolting as well.
Slug-tastic dinner for you to try, it’s gooey and cold. ♪

♫ Pea jelly makes you very ill, it is lumpy and raw.
Water and spice add character but it’s not very nice. ♫

♪ Kiara has made you a nice surprise, taste it – bleurgh bleurgh!
It’s sticky and jagged, it’s horrible and it smells like poo! ♪

♫ I can feel an ant on my tongue, there’s some custard as well.
Everything is mouldy – I feel sick. Pass the bucket right now! ♫

♪ Spiders and webs will make you squirm, so will wiggly worms.
Add in some really smelly pants, it’s an insect sandwich. ♪

♫ Snails and slugs with rotten eggs, they smell stinky and gross.
Ants and potatoes and mash it up. Wait there’s one on my teeth. ♫

Dishes of the Day!

Keep your eyes out for more details for our next Crash Bang Wallop! family concert, ‘Magic and Mischief’ on Saturday 1 November. Booking opens beginning of July!