Ernest Read was passionate about spreading music as widely as possible to children and young people and put on his first concert for schools in 1929. He knew that the length, content and style of a concert needed to reflect the audience and developed an innovative format that many professional symphony orchestras still follow today, with short programmes, accessible introductions to the repertoire and audience participation. The renowned Ernest Read Concerts for Children began in 1945 and sold out for over 50 years.
Today, we devote at least two concerts a year to working with children. As a Camden-based orchestra, our work with children and young people has been focused within the borough for many years. We have developed strong and lasting relationships with our partners, the Camden Music Service and the Camden School for Girls. ERSO’s track record of putting on high-quality children’s concerts combined with our partners’ local knowledge means that we are able to involve the children in the most beneficial, relevant and accessible ways possible to create highly successful concerts
In all of our concerts, young players sit within their instrument’s section of ERSO for the duration of the event as we have found that this experience is very inspiring and motivational for the young musicians as it allows them to experience what their instruments can sound like with practice and what it would be like to play within a larger, more advanced ensemble.
We always evaluate the success of each children’s concert with the participants and our partners and we ensure that the findings are applied to future projects. We have received very positive feedback from parents and children:
“What a great idea to involve the children in this musical experience with a full adult orchestra! Please pass on our special thanks for making our son so welcome, and for helping him to feel comfortable playing as part of the orchestra.” (Parent)
“My adult buddy was very helpful when I got lost and with the up and down bows. She was really kind! “(Child performer)
“ACE! The presenter was brilliant The conductor was v engaging. Thoroughly enjoyed myself! First time and it was amazing!” (Child performer)
“I am writing to you today to let you know how exciting, beautiful and inspiring last night’s concert was. My daughter who plays the violin was so happy to be sitting with ERSO players. A wonderful and memorable experience for my daughter and myself!” (Parent)
On the concert day, our priority is to provide the children with an enjoyable and developmental experience. Each child is assigned an adult “buddy” to help them with the music and make sure that any questions or anxieties are addressed so that the children can enjoy their rehearsal and concert experiences.
Each year our children’s concerts provide opportunities for around 100 children from the borough of Camden to be involved in an exciting performance with a full-size symphony orchestra in an out of school setting – an experience that is not readily available to young musicians. Our anticipated outcomes are:
- that the participating children will be encouraged to continue with their extra-curricular music-making. The Camden Music Service reports “We have noticed that offering these performing opportunities with inspiring adult players has led to improved attendance, group retention and recruitment.”
- the experiences will help to develop the children’s skills as musicians through preparation for the performance and from rehearsing and performing with the ERSO adult musicians.
- the concerts will inspire and engage our audience members, both children and adults, with some of the finest symphonic and choral repertoire.
- our concerts with the Camden Girls School support children studying for their GCSE and A level music exams, helping them to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the set music, supporting their exam performance.