Over the next three months, children and tutors from English Sistema programmes will have gone to Italy, Sweden and Canada as part of a European Union Culture Programme funded exchange between Europe and Canada. SMEEC, as it is known, will see fifty seven English children taking part, with each visit culminating in a performance.

The first of the exchanges took place in Italy this month, when ten children from In Harmony Telford travelled to Milan to perform with other young musicians from Italy and Angola, in an event titled Concerto per Cinque Continenti (Concert for Five Continents).

In June, seventeen children from Sistema in Norwich and In Harmony Telford will be going to Gothenburg, Sweden. Here, children from England, Sweden and Canada will work towards two concerts over a week of rehearsals, with the big finale a side-by-side concert with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

In July, thirty children from In Harmony Lambeth, In Harmony Liverpool, In Harmony Telford and Sistema in Norwich will travel to Toronto, where they will join children from Italy and four Sistema-inspired programmes from Canada to rehearse towards three performances associated with the Pan American Games, hosted by Sistema Toronto. At last count it looked like the orchestra could be as big as 200 children!

It is going be a quite momentous few months, having our children travelling to work and perform with children from other countries. Some of them have never even been on a plane before. That their dedication to their instrument is literally taking them places is very exciting for them!

Marcus Patteson is Director of Sistema in Norwich

The SMEEC project was match-funded by the European Union’s Culture Programme.