In a first for the Sandringham Flower Show, children from Sistema in Norwich performed music as part of the show garden in the Royal Marquee at this year’s show, on Wednesday 30th July 2014.

Young musicians from Sistema in Norwich’s Children’s Chamber Group performed a specially composed piece for the Royal Party as they passed through the Royal Marquee, putting the final touch to “Tune in with Nature” a garden designed so that the planting and music complimented each other, by John Farley of Dunnella Civil Engineering and Sue Huckle of Posh Plants.

His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall spoke to Sistema’s Musical Director, Steve Copley, about the programme and asked the children to play. The Prince then passed through the garden, stopping to talk to the children as he went.

Prince Charles congratulated violinist Ellen on her playing and spoke to double bassist Victoria about what it was like to perform in the garden. When asked about what being part of Sistema in Norwich had meant to her, cellist Jessica told him: “Sistema is everything to me and has changed my life. I’m confident and Sistema has shown me I can do well if I try hard. My family are very proud and I am looking forward to going to high school and continuing to be part of it.”

Sistema in Norwich is a ground-breaking programme that seeks to improve the wellbeing and prospects for young people through participation in music. It is focused on key areas of disadvantage, where there are less opportunities and young people face greater challenges. With no current core funding, the programme is seeking the support it needs to develop and expand, to work with more children and have a greater impact on those already taking part.

A framed copy of the composition was presented to Prince Charles and violinist, Alisha, presented a posy to the Duchess of Cornwall. As Prince Charles left the Marquee he commented to the Flower Show organizers about how good he thought the show garden had been this year and how the children’s performance had made it all the more remarkable.

Asked about the experience, Alisha said: “To be asked to play for Prince Charles in such a beautiful garden was amazing. I was honoured to be chosen to present the Duchess of Cornwall with a bouquet, and to meet her, Prince Charles, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith. It was an experience that I will never forget.” That was a sentiment that Victoria agreed with. “It was an amazing day, there was tangible excitement in the air. The garden was very beautiful and it was an absolute honor to be able to play for Prince Charles. It’s a memory I will never forget.”

Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith were also in attendance and spoke to Steve Copley, about the programme. Dame Judy has supported Sistema in Norwich in the past and was keen to hear about the progress made.

Sistema in Norwich works with children to improve their lives through learning to play an instrument, in an orchestra, in a fun and inspiring way. Musical excellence and music-making are at the heart of the work and vital to its success, but it is driven by a desire to enable young people to realise their whole potential. That comes through developing passion for music and a virtuous circle of achievement and confidence, helping them to learn to work as a team, to consider other people’s needs and attributes, and build their skills. The fact that children who would never otherwise have had an opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument and be part of an orchestra get that opportunity is an added bonus.

The children were performing a piece entitled ‘Rainstorm’, specially composed for the occasion by the young people and Steven Copley, Director of Music and Education at Sistema in Norwich. The Chamber Ensemble featured six cellos, six violins, a double bass, trumpet, euphonium, tubular bells and percussion.

Steven Copley Director of Music and Education at Sistema in Norwich, said, “Today has been just one example of why Sistema in Norwich is a vital part of the lives of the young people we make music with. They have worked tirelessly towards this performance and have achieved far more than anyone could of expected. Prince Charles was genuinely touched by the music and praised the children’s professionalism. As Dame Judi Dench said to me, what a perfect way to help children realise their potential”.

John Farley, Dunnella Civil Engineering, Norwich said, “The garden was designed and created from the outset to give visitors a total sensory experience. When I first heard the children playing the idea of combining their enthusiasm with a growing garden seemed an exciting concept. The final result surpassed my expectations and I have to admit, was an emotional experience!”

And to top off the day, John and Sue’s garden got a ‘Large Gold Medal’ award, the highest that can be given for a show garden, so our congratulations go to them.

Alvaro Sanchez, the Charge D’Affaire of the Venezuelan Embassy in London had been due to join Sistema in Norwich for the day, as part of our developing relationship with El Sistema, Venezuela, however sadly he was unable to attend at the last minute due to affairs of state. As well as the Embassy supporting the recent visit of harpist, Leonard Jacome to the programme, the Martineau Chamber Group will be performing at the Bolivar Hall, in London on 1st October.

Sistema in Norwich would particularly like to thank John Farley and Sue Huckle, the garden’s designers, and Waitrose, Eaton Branch, Norwich for providing support and refreshments for the children during the day.

The success and growth of Sistema in Norwich needs support. By working with individuals, businesses and groups we can make a real difference to the lives of more and more young people. By getting involved or making a regular donation you can ensure that we are able to create a dynamic and sustainable programme.

For further information about Sistema in Norwich, please visit www.sistemanorwich.org.uk or contact Marcus Patteson, Programme Director, Sistema in Norwich on 01603 760529 / or email marcus@norcaarts.co.uk.