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Two new In Harmony commissions for the north of England

  • Date: 25 July 2012
  • Area: National, North
Group of primary school children playing violins and cellos

West Everton Children's Orchestra, In Harmony. Credit: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

In Harmony is a national education programme, based on the Venezuelan El Sistema principle, which aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities by using the power of community-based orchestral music-making.

Co-funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Education, In Harmony was introduced as two pilot projects in 2009, one of which was based in Liverpool. Four more commissions have now been announced - two of which are also based in the north of England. The Sage Gateshead will work with a school and nursery in Newcastle, and Opera North with a school and children's centre in Leeds.

The Sage Gateshead working in Newcastle

The Sage Gateshead will work with Hawthorn primary school and adjoining Ashfield nursery, based in the Westgate ward of Newcastle to deliver a programme for 292 pupils. Along with providing orchestral musical instruments and a new learning space, the project delivery team will work with local health and welfare professionals at the school.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: "From drawing on existing knowledge, to forming new partnerships with local organisations such as Newcastle Adult Learning Services and the NHS Newcastle West Clinical Commissioning Group, The Sage Gateshead has ensured the project will have a meaningful impact. I look forward to seeing this project thrive, providing a lasting legacy to the region and inspiration to a generation."

Judy Cowgill, Headteacher at Hawthorn school said: "The In Harmony project is of the utmost significance to the children of Hawthorn Primary School, Ashfield Nursery and the local community. This unique experience has the potential to transform all our lives forever."

Opera North working in Leeds

Windmill primary and the children's centre in South Leeds will be working with Opera North and their In Harmony project. Opera North aims to raise aspirations for both 300 children and their parents, whilst at the same time, improving longer term educational and social outcomes for the participants.

Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director, Arts Council England, said: "Opera North's involvement will not only help to raise the aspirations of children through orchestral music-making, but it also has the potential to transform the lives of parents. I couldn't be happier that Yorkshire is one of just four places which will now be home to a new In Harmony project, and I can't wait to see the project in action, to talk to participants, and to hear some great music of course."

Rebecca Walsh, director of education at Opera North said: "Opera North is thrilled to have been awarded a grant to take In Harmony to Belle Isle in South Leeds. The project will place music at the heart of school life, creating new opportunities which have the potential to inspire the lives of the children and community of Windmill Primary School."

Success of the In Harmony pilot with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

The new In Harmony projects were commissioned due to the success of the pilot programmes. In 2009, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was tasked with leading a pilot. The orchestra worked with Faith primary school in West Everton, and after a year the results of the programme spoke for themselves.

The percentage of children improving by two national curriculum levels or more through SATS and Optional SATS tests in reading increased from 36% in 2009 to 84% in 2010. Numeracy increased from 35% to 75% in the same time.

In a normal year at Faith primary, around 20% of children exceed the teachers' expectations in academic achievement. In 2009/10, through the support and impact of In Harmony Liverpool, 78% of children have exceeded expectations in educational attainment.

For more information about the success of this pilot programme, click here.

For more information about this year's four new In Harmony commissions, click here.