Leeds Conservatoire and Orchestras Live Launch Community Co-creation Project

By Gemma Cross


As part of a three-year partnership, Leeds Conservatoire and Orchestras Live have begun a project, titled New Connections, exploring how, through partnership and co-design, the conservatoire can engage with community groups and trial new ways of creating relevant orchestral experiences. 

Student Chloe Rigby With Music Leader James Redwood

Student Chloe Rigby with Music Leader James Redwood

James is an award-winning composer and music leader. He has an international career, working with orchestras, opera companies and arts organisations to create new music with and for non-professional groups. Amina is principal flautist at Manchester Camerata and has travelled globally with the orchestra. She is also a fully qualified Music Therapist. 

In the first session, the students explored their understanding of co-creation and community engagement. This was followed by a practical session where the students learnt a range of workshop games and techniques to scaffold co-creating music as an ensemble. The practical session also explored the roles of workshop leader, supporting musician and producer, and how these work together to produce projects that effectively engage community groups. 

As part of this, introductions were made to some of the community groups involved in the New Connections project. 

Made With Music is an award-winning charity providing accessible live music for families of all ages and abilities through mini gigs, workshops, performances and classes. The project will involve their Sunshine & Smiles Group. Sunshine & Smiles is a Leeds-based charity that provides a support network for children and young people who have Down syndrome and their families. 

Meeting Point Leeds is a charity that provides practical and emotional support for refugees and asylum seekers. The project will involve their Women’s Group. This group offers a range of activities and provides a holistic space to improve women’s wellbeing, build self-confidence and self-esteem and develop new skills. 

In addition, the project will involve Burley and Woodhead Church of England Primary School, a rural school in Burley-in-Wharfedale. The school firmly believes in developing the whole child and provides opportunities for every pupil to shine.

Feedback from conservatoire students involved in New Connections, following the initial sessions, included the following:

“Spending time with the music leaders showed me some of the skills involved in leading sessions, the sort of skills that are hard to put into words. It also made me see that there is a whole network of people delivering this type of work, and that it is a possible option for me going forward as a musician.”

 “I loved the sessions! I learnt a lot from the experience, a lot of which I will take forward with me in the future.”

 “I think there is great support in place and although it is a new and scary experience, I am up for it.”

Sarah Derbyshire, Chief Executive at Orchestras Live, said, “We’re delighted to be working with Leeds Conservatoire to support the future musical workforce to work creatively with communities. These are vital skills for professional musicians in the 21st century, whatever their genre, and through experiential learning with professional musicians, students will develop their practice through New Connection’s innovative approach.

 “Music is a powerful way to bring communities and artists together through a rich collaborative process, co-creating new and relevant music for our time. We’re excited to hear what New Connections participants and artists will create.”

Book tickets for the New Connections concert on 23 June. This is a pay what you can performance

Read about New Connections on the Orchestras Live website

Access information about performance opportunities at Leeds Conservatoire

By Gemma Cross

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