Tag Archives: Tower Hamlets

Podcast: Animal Antics KS1 Project

It’s not often that our musicians get to be bumblebees, chickens and horses stuck in mud, but they got to do just that in our ‘Animal Antics’ themed KS1 concerts in May 2017.

The project, in partnership with Tower Hamlets Arts & Music Education Service and Harrow Music Service, saw schoolchildren engage in a series of fun, creative workshops with our fantastic Animateur in Residence, Claire Henry, before experiencing live orchestral music for the first time. The concerts introduced the children to instruments, with our musicians illustrating the story through musical excerpts, and gave them the chance to join in with rhythms, dictate changes in the music, and sing along to their own songs, created in the workshops – all to help the orchestra escape from the mud!

Our Key Stage 1 music projects this year have been made possible with generous support from the Aldgate and Allhallows Foundation, AM Spurgin Charitable Trust, Bernarr Rainbow Trust, Childhood Trust, Derek Hill Foundation, D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and donors of the Big Give Christmas Challenge.

Listen to our Animal Antics podcast, featuring conversations with musicians, Claire Henry, children, and representatives from schools and music education hubs, available on SoundCloud.

You can also watch/listen on YouTube.

We’ll be releasing a new podcast every month, giving you insight into our performances, collaborations and projects throughout the year, so follow us on SoundCloud and keep an eye out!


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

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!


Month in Pictures: March and April

With everything from conducting bumble bees, synaesthetic lighting, rhythmic jazz-piano, spiritual choral music and comedians reading poetry, these last couple of months have certainly been hectic for the City of London Sinfonia. We’ve had so much fun putting on our Natural / Supernatural series which began at the end of March performing in beautiful venues such as Southwark Cathedral and Christ Church Spitalfields, and we’ve even been able to fit in some regional touring and lots of education work too! Here are some of our favourite pics from the last couple of months:


 Our education team trying on animal masks ahead of our Crash Bang Wallop! Animal Antics family concert at Cadogan Hall in March!


Some snaps from our First Time Live projects in Mansfield, Thurrock and Peterborough which gives young people the chance to produce and experience a live orchestral concert for the first time! Can you spot the bumble bee conductor?


Rehearsals for our Tavener Celebration concert with the fabulous Hilliard Ensemble and Holst Singers at Southwark Cathedral. Our trumpet player obviously was so overwhelmed by the brilliant sound that he had to have a nap! 


Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time resonating through the atmospheric surroundings of Village Underground for our last CLoSer. We hope those who logged in to watch the performance via livestream enjoyed the performance too! Check out some more photos here.


 Some of our musicians got up to some exciting things in April, including being conducted by England Cricketer Stewart Broad with Opera Holland Park and performing at Dorsey & Whitney’s offices behind a view of the City!


Some pictures from a selection of our other concerts around the UK including the National Concert Hall in Dublin and Snape Maltings.


British actor and comedian John Sessions rehearsing for the final concert of our Natural / Supernatural series tonight at Cadogan Hall!


Natural / Supernatural
Thursday 1 May 2014, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall

Mozart –  Overture from The Magic Flute
Gwilym Simcock – On a Piece of Tapestry (London premiere)

Gwilym Simcock – Cumbrian Thaw
Beethoven – ‘Pastoral’ Symphony No. 6 


From start to finish: a day in the life of… a trainee animateur

After the success of our recent blog ‘A day in the life of an education trainee’ we thought we’d continue the tradition! During our recent Meet the Music Tower Hamlets Key Stage 1 project, we asked our trainee animateur Jon Farey, a postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music, to outline exactly what the concert entails. With fully-grown professional musicians dressed as horses and children commissioning the music, it would seem that all roles are reversed in these workshops. One thing for sure though is that it looks like a lot of fun! Jon tells all….


The aim of this project was to gear up primary school children (years 1-2) for one of their first concert experiences. This one was all about animals, and we used this theme throughout the concert and in the preparatory sessions with the different schools involved. Loosely based on Noah’s Ark, we made a story for the concert about animals getting on a boat, it starting to rain so that the boat would float and finally it moving from gusts of wind.


Animals went in 2 by 2…

kid serachingIn order for the animals to get on the boat, the children had to ‘find’ the animals in the orchestra. This was a great way to introduce the schools to the instruments in the orchestra and the music in the concert. Each piece in the concert highlighted a certain instrument and had a certain animal – the musicians in City of London Sinfonia all had props symbolising the animals they represented (favourites with the children were the trumpet and horn as horses and the oboe and clarinet as chickens!). We used Rossini’s William Tell Overture to showcase the horses and Mussorgky’s Ballet of the Chickens in their Shells from Pictures at an Exhibition to showcase the musical chickens.


<< “It was amazing to hear the poetic and thoughtful sentences that the children managed to think up in such a short space of time” >>


And they all went in the ark, for to get out of the (wind and) rain


chickenOnce the animals were ‘found’ and aboard the boat, we made it rain using a rain song that was created and performed by the children. In one of the first sessions before the concert, all of the children created sentences asking the sky to rain; it was amazing to hear the poetic and thoughtful sentences that the children managed to think up in such a short space of time. Claire Bloor, the workshop leader, then noted these sentences down and created a song using some of them. Initially a word sheet was given to each school along with a recording of myself and Claire playing/singing the music. By the time the concert came around each school had learnt the song they had helped to create and, with the City of London Sinfonia accompanying, performed it in turn to the other schools involved.


The final part of the concert was making the sail on the boat move using wind. To ‘make wind’, the children mimicked the woodwind and brass players in the orchestra holding/blowing a long note!


<< “I was always surprised by the children’s responsiveness and attentiveness” >>


claireIt was fantastic to be given the opportunity to work with Claire and to have the chance to lead parts of the preparatory sessions. It was really fun leading some of the warm ups with the kids and I was always surprised by their responsiveness and attentiveness. In these sessions, Claire also introduced some of the concepts that were to be used in the concert – for example, the children had to create raindrops with their hands or had to search for the animal they were looking for. One of my favourite parts of the project though was Claire’s method of gaining the children’s attention – at the start of each session she made all the children start as ‘Number 1’ (people who hadn’t got any sleep, hadn’t had breakfast, were slouching etc) then made them turn into ‘Number 5’s (people who’d had some sleep, a bit of breakfast, slightly slouching) through to  ‘Number 10’s (straight back, lots of sleep and a good breakfast).


Overall, it was brilliant to see how the project developed – it gave me some really valuable experience and I have come away full of new ideas and enthusiasm for inspiring new generations of musicians. A big thank you to the City of London Sinfonia team for such a fun workshop series!


Jon Farey

For more information on our education projects, visit our website at cityoflondonsinfonia.co.uk/community or contact our education team educationteam@cls.co.uk.

Month in Pictures: January and February

After kicking off the New Year with a free lunchtime concert at City of London Festival, we have since taken part in a series of First Time Live workshops, introducing teenagers to orchestral music and concert production, and performed our first CLoSer of the year that was live streamed from Village Underground. Here are some of our favourite snaps from the past couple of months…


City of London Sinfonia musicians rehearse and perform in our first concert of the year at St Andrews Holborn as part of City of London Festival

Mara & Elin rehearseMara Rehearse

Mara Carlyle and Elin Manahan Thomas rehearse their stunning duet ahead of our Alternative Valentine’s Day CLoSer

CloSer MaraKaty cooper closer

CLoSer: Alternative Love Songs gets into full swing at Village Underground


City of London Sinfonia musicians entertain the staff and residents at Rubens House as part of our L’Chaim project

picture 2

A very cute drawing by one of the participants of our Tower Hamlets Key Stage 1 project!

You can see more from City of London Sinfonia at our forthcoming Natural / Supernatural festival

Natural / Supernatural Festival
27 March – 1 May
Southwark Cathedral, Christ Church Spitalfields, Village Underground, Cadogan Hall

Photograph credits: @CoLFestival, Matthew Swann, Katy Cooper, Pia Luck, drawing by Nuzma from the Tower Hamlets Children’s project

Education Preview: What’s coming up in 2013/14?

With the start of our 2013/14 season fast approaching, Steph caught up with our Education Manager, Gillian, to talk about all the exciting projects we have coming up. If you would like to know more about any of the projects discussed in this video, please keep an eye on our Education webpage for regular updates…

We hope you enjoyed the preview and do keep your eyes peeled for our next live broadcast!

You can donate to this life enhancing programme of events online via our JustGiving page. Every donation of any amount helps towards delivering Make the Music so please follow the link below and find out more:

Donate with JustGiving

Month in Pictures: May 2013

After a jam-packed May, we’ve finally had time to sit down, catch our breath and bring you another edition of Month in Pictures. Last month, we were on the road visiting cathedrals up and down the country as part of our Fauré Requiem Tour and we’ve loved meeting new audiences in Durham, Ely, Portsmouth and Derby. Bring on the next leg of the tour in October! It’s also been a busy month for our Education Team with Little Red Riding Hood’s Crash Bang Wallop!, our ongoing Key Stage 1 project in Tower Hamlets and the culmination of our workshops at St Joseph’s Hospice as part of Dying Matters week. And if that’s not enough, there’s been a new arrival at the office in the form of our Chief Operating Officer’s adorable puppy, Dolly! If you were at Crash Bang Wallop! on 11 May, you’ll know who we’re talking about…


There’s an impostor in the office! Not really – it’s just the Big, Bad Wolf gearing up for our workshop in Tower Hamlets


And here he is entertaining the masses with some fine musical accompaniment from the City of London Sinfonia Brass Quintet


Air Trombone: our Tower Hamlets project participants show you how it’s done

Buggy Park CBW credit ALEX

Buggy park at Cadogan Hall. Must be another Crash Bang Wallop!

Ely Cathedral choristers with our Principal Conductor Stephen Layton and composer Gabriel Jackson

Stephen Layton, Gabriel Jackson and the wonderful choristers at Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral, 'the Ship of the Fens', our second stop on the Tour and the venue for our BBC Radio 3 broadcast

Ely Cathedral in all its glory!

Choir and Orchestra in concert at Derby Cathedral

Choir and Orchestra in action at Derby Cathedral

DOLLY!! Credit Steph

Dolly the puppy (future City of London Sinfonia mascot?)


Volunteers, patients and City of London Sinfonia musicians perform a brilliant concert for us at St Joseph’s Hospice

The Big Give Christmas Challenge

Earlier this month, pupils from three primary schools in Tower Hamlets took part in a very magical project with our musicians and workshop leader Claire Bloor. October and November were full of magic for the Education team with our Lullaby series followed by our sell-out Crash Bang Wallop! concert at Cadogan Hall and we were so pleased that alongside these projects, we were able to develop a bespoke project for 150 Year 1 and 2 pupils from across Tower Hamlets; the starting point of a new and exciting programme of work in the Borough.

In the spring we met with THAMES, the Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service to explore possibilities of developing work together. THAMES works with schools across Tower Hamlets, providing instrumental music teachers and running ensembles but also have a very strong history of exciting, effective partnerships. They work with a wide range of professional partners and we are proud to be one of them!

The concert was wonderful, something the children would never have been able to experience without you.
Teacher, Thomas Buxton Primary School

Our first project in October saw a special schools performance of our Magic themed show which included arrangements of works such as Dukas Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Mozart’s Overture to The Magic Flute. Around this, we ran a series of workshops with four classes, introducing children to the repertoire and instruments of the Orchestra. Alongside workshop leader, Claire Bloor, the children also wrote their own lyrics to a song about a magical owl which was performed with the Orchestra at the concert. 


Image: Paul Coghlin

This pilot project has exceeded our expectations and we now plan to visit eight more primary schools in Tower Hamlets, with a series of bespoke schools concerts and workshops, introducing a further 300 children and their teachers to the Orchestra.  In order to make this important work happen we are taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge (5-9 December), through which we need to raise £25,000 in order to enable this transformational work to happen. 

Visit our Big Give page to find out more and how to get involved.

Big Give Christmas Challenge
5 – 9 Dec 2011