‘It’s been an amazing week and a week that I will never forget… I can’t wait until next year’.
Kayleigh (12, cello, Norwich).

‘This is your orchestra. It is up to you to lead on how it sounds, what it looks like and whether it continues to exist,’ said Fiona Cunningham, CEO of Sistema England, to the young musicians sitting around her. It was the end of a week of joyful hard work and great musical achievements. On the first day, many of the musicians did not know each other or the music they would learn. After just four days they sat together as an orchestra ready to perform pieces by Henry Purcell, John Williams, Tito Puente and Portuguese folk. Except for one thing: ‘We’re not just an orchestra, said Daijon (12, violin, Lambeth), we’re now a family.’


Click here for more photos by Iván González.

Sistema England’s Young Leaders Programme aims to develop a vibrant ensemble with a strong youth voice, that will demonstrate that great music-making and youth ownership are entirely compatible. During the week at Overstrand Hall, on the Norfolk coast the young leaders, some of whom had never been away from home before, committed wholeheartedly to the musical challenge and made new friends, discovering how much they had in common.

In a final discussion, the 35 young musicians from In Harmony Lambeth, In Harmony Liverpool, Sistema in Norwich and The Nucleo Project agreed that they want more: more gatherings, more complex and varied repertoire, more days and hours making music and more performances. They also felt that with ownership comes responsibility: ‘We should have a team of buddies for next year’s new players, to welcome them and ensure they feel part of the orchestra,’ Adiya (16, cello, Nucleo).


Click here for more photos by Iván González.

Reece (11, violin, Liverpool) explained that the week was challenging and intensive, but that working hard can also be fun. Cameron (10, violin, Nucleo), said he was motivated to give his best because the teachers were ‘very nice and kind’. Daniela (12, violin, Lambeth), celebrated the opportunity of ‘working with kids from other programmes because we are like a family now and we help each other’.

Besides the workshops, sectionals and full orchestra sessions, the week included a masterclass with renowned double bassist and Chineke! founder Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE; a masterclass with Venezuelan violinist Juan Carlos Maggiorani, Artistic Director of Orquestra Geração in Portugal; movement coaching with choreographer Mina Aidoo; video analysis sessions for the young musicians to see themselves performing; trips to the beach and a bonfire with giant marshmallows.


Click here for more photos by Iván González.

Heartfelt thanks to:

Teaching team and staff
André Camacho, percussion teacher
Braimah Kanneh-Mason, violin mentor
Chi-chi Nwanoku MBE
Chineke! Foundation
Félix Briceño, music director from El Sistema
Iván González, photographer
Jade and Steven from In Harmony Lambeth
Juan Carlos Maggiorani, violin teacher, Orquestra Geração
Laura Anstee, cello teacher
Margarida Abrantes, viola mentor, Orquestra Geração
Melissa and Lucy from Sistema in Norwich
Mina Aidoo, movement coach
Nathan Knight, double bass teacher
Nicola Hicks, viola teacher
Rey Trombetta, project manager from Sistema England
Rod, Alex, Carolyn and Rosie from In Harmony Liverpool
Sally Drinkwater, pastoral manager
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello mentor
Telmo Martins, double bass mentor, Orquestra Geração
Tristan Daws, film-maker

Sistema Programmes
In Harmony Lambeth
In Harmony Liverpool
Sistema in Norwich
The Nucleo Project
…for trusting us with their young leaders for a week of inspiring music making

Ashla Charitable Trust
BBB Violin Trust
Individual donors through JustGiving
Kingswood Learning and Leisure Group
Norie Charitable Trust

Additional thanks to
Amherst Enterprises
Epic Studios
Marcus and Cathie at Sistema in Norwich for instruments, stands and logistics support
Markson Pianos
Sanders Coaches