Youth orchestra to play at Conservatoire

National Orchestra for All brings WordPlay to Birmingham.

The UK’s only national youth orchestra open to disadvantaged young musicians of all abilities will be bringing its WordPlay season to a rousing conclusion with a spectacular free concert at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on Sunday 14th April at 4pm.

WordPlay is all about how music, language and words – whether written or spoken – are intimately connected, and the concert will include the world première of a brand-new piece featuring Roundhouse Resident Artist, poet Kit Finnie.

The National Orchestra for All is made up of one hundred aspiring young musicians aged 11-18 who have shown a passion for music despite facing challenging circumstances, including coming from an economically deprived background, being a young carer, an unaccompanied refugee, living in isolated rural areas or living with a physical disability or chronic health condition.

Over the course of the last nine months the young musicians have come together for two residential courses to rehearse, discuss, create and perform music exploring how music and language are connected. The concert at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire will be the culmination of this work and will feature the world première of An Orchestra of Overheard Conversations by composer Danyal Dhondy, inspired by the speech patterns of the young musicians.

Acclaimed poet and spoken word artist, Kit Finnie, will join the orchestra to perform the piece. The orchestra will also perform arrangements of a selection of popular opera choruses and a traditional Ghanaian song A Keelie Makolay, arranged for orchestra and choir.

The National Orchestra for All began in 2011 with just 40 players as the brainchild of a young North London school music teacher Marianna Hay who was deeply concerned at the lack of opportunities for young people to access the potentially life-changing experience of playing music together. Now the orchestra is the principal programme of the registered charity Orchestras for All of which Marianna is Founder and Artistic Director.

Each year young people from across the UK are nominated to join the National Orchestra for All by their music teachers for showing commitment and dedication to music in the face of challenging circumstances. Membership of the orchestra is entirely free including the cost of the residential courses and transport. This is made possible by generous donations from a range of organisations and members of the public.

Involvement in playing music, particularly playing music together with other young people, has been shown to have numerous benefits including improving learning, concentration, confidence, collaboration, self-expression and communication skills. As previous National Orchestra for All member Matthew says, “NOFA has driven me in a direction I thought I’d never explore, inspiring me to pursue orchestral performance and a degree in music.”