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City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Arts Scholarship

World-class opportunities for young Midlands musicians

How can a world-renowned orchestra enrich the lives of people across the whole of the community it serves, rather than solely those of its regular concertgoers? Since Sir Simon Rattle’s appointment as music director almost 40 years ago the CBSO has been leading the way in answering this question

CBSO Youth Orchestra rehearsing with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.
CBSO Youth Orchestra rehearsing with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

In the 1990s we were the first British symphony orchestra to appoint an education manager. Our musicians switch seamlessly from performing on the world’s most prestigious concert stages to working in the community through our Learning & Engagement programme, which also gives every school pupil in Birmingham the opportunity to see the CBSO in concert.

Under the leadership of our current music director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, we are working towards the establishment of one of the world’s first schools to be founded by an orchestra.

Another key element of our Learning & Engagement programme is our family of four youth ensembles – our Youth Orchestra, Youth and Children’s Choruses, and Project Remix training orchestra.

Between 2019 and 2022 this Arts Scholarship grant will enable us to continue nurturing our region’s most gifted young musicians by maintaining generous partial bursaries for members of all four ensembles, and offering full bursaries for young people who would not otherwise be able to participate. Over 500 young people will benefit over the three years. 

CBSO Youth Chorus performs Britten's A Ceremony of Carols.
CBSO Youth Chorus performs Britten's A Ceremony of Carols.

As members of the CBSO Youth and Children’s Choruses, over 200 local singers aged 8–18 will enjoy world-class choral opportunities. We’re proud that these Choruses achieve the highest international standards: they have recently been invited to perform at the Lucerne Festival with the Vienna Philharmonic and at the BBC Proms with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The CBSO Youth Orchestra is regarded as one of Europe’s best youth ensembles, and 200 exceptional instrumentalists aged 13–21 will receive an experience as close as possible to performing with a professional orchestra: they will work with Gražinytė-Tyla and other leading conductors and soloists; receive intensive coaching from CBSO professionals; and premiere specially-commissioned pieces of music. We’ll invite a further 110 young musicians aged 13–18 who show musical promise but lack access to orchestral opportunities to join Project Remix.

For several years we’ve been working tirelessly to reduce barriers to entry of all four ensembles, and their membership is increasingly reflective of the rich diversity of our region. Leverhulme Trust bursaries will help us maintain this inclusive trajectory as the CBSO celebrates its centenary in 2020.

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