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BBC Concert Orchestra Partners with Universities of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent

New partnership highlights the creative community input that orchestras can have across regions, improving the life and wellbeing of people in the city and supporting the local music education sector.

Published: 27 June 2023 | 12:55 PM Updated: 27 June 2023 | 1:51 PM
A skyline view of Nottingham brick buildings in Nottingham's city centre
“What is very exciting is a partnership that doesn’t hinge on relocation but on delivering to those audiences and communities across the East of England.” Photo credit: Shutterstock

The BBC Concert Orchestra has partnered with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University to give students world-class performance, composition, and production experiences. The partnership will also reach schools and local communities through projects designed to improve quality of life and wellbeing of people in the city as well as supporting the music education sector in the region.

The partnership will begin with a year-long filmmaking and scoring project, involving students from both universities. The project will culminate in workshops with BBC Concert Orchestra musicians and BAFTA and multi-Emmy Award-winning composer, George Fenton. There will also be improvisation workshops with renowned musicians and composers.

A new BBC Radio 3 Recital Series including New Generation Artists will be recorded in collaboration with students in Djanogly and University Halls, and there are plans for further broadcast programmes as the partnership develops.

An example of how detailed discussions on community integration need to be

The MU welcomed news about the establishment of this creative partnership, and highlighted the relevance of this cross-regional work to the Arts Council England’s current treatment of the English National Opera.

Jo Laverty, MU National Organiser Orchestras, says:

The BBC Concert Orchestra news is a brilliant example of how carefully forged and considered creative partnerships can be integrated into communities. These conversations about partnerships, education and venues have taken six years to bear fruit and are an example of how detailed these discussions need to be.

“What is very exciting is a partnership that doesn’t hinge on relocation but on delivering to those audiences and communities across the East of England which is surely the most important thing. Arts Council England could do well to take note in regard to their current unrealistic demands on English National Opera.”

Creating new research and development opportunities and more

The Nottingham partnership will:

  • Give students regular access to one of the UK’s most highly rated professional broadcast orchestras so that they can develop their skills and gain industry experience that will increase their employability.
  • Develop new pathways to highly skilled technical roles in the broadcast industry.
  • Create new research and development opportunities, focusing on areas such as the social impact of music, digital technologies in music practice and audience engagement.
  • Support music-making with young people across curricular and extra-curricular settings.

The partnership will start with a two-week BBC Concert Orchestra Residency, placing the BBC production activity at the heart of research and training programmes, and building on the BBC Concert Orchestra’s already growing presence in the city.

As we confirmed earlier this year, from 2025 the BBC Concert Orchestra’s administrative base will be at East Bank. The ensemble will continue to perform and rehearse in venues in London, across the UK and as part of this new long-term partnership in Nottingham. Rather than moving the orchestra to a single base away from London, this approach helps us to secure a creatively and financially sustainable future for it, allowing the team to explore all available opportunities.

Plans for the partnership are ambitious and exciting

Simon Webb, Head of BBC Orchestras and Choirs said: “This partnership between the BBC Concert Orchestra and the universities of Nottingham builds on the existing relationship between the orchestra and the city. What we have planned for this partnership is ambitious and incredibly exciting and demonstrates the vital role of music in education. I look forward to working with the teams in Nottingham and sharing our world class music making with students and local communities.”

Professor Jeremy Gregory, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham said: “This is a unique opportunity to develop and enhance the cultural life of Nottingham. The partnership will showcase the talent, research and cultural offering of our region.

“It will be invaluable to students, who’ll be working with a world-class orchestra to develop their industry experience, and it will create community outreach opportunities that will benefit diverse groups across the city. We also look forward to exploring a wide range of research opportunities.”

Amy Bere, Director of Culture at Nottingham Trent University added: “This is an exciting partnership that not only benefits our colleagues and students but also the wider community. Collaboration between all partners will showcase the talent, research and cultural offering of our region, putting Nottingham firmly on the cultural map.

“Our students will benefit from new courses and access to one of the UK’s most highly rated broadcast orchestras. There will also be research and development opportunities and the chance to enhance our facilities. We will be able to not only reach large audiences across the UK, but bring music to local communities where it doesn’t currently play a large role, to demonstrate how it can improve quality of life, health and wellbeing.”

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