It’s hard to believe how quickly the months are whizzing by! As the country was finally coming out of the last COVID lockdown, we were kick-starting Synfonia with the aim of inspiring a new audience in classical music, particularly for those who had missed out on musical experiences because of the pandemic. As with any new venture, there have been numerous and unexpected bumps in the road, but we’re beginning to see the fruits of our labour and are incredibly excited about what’s to come.
Our initial months were a heady mix of plans, budgets, reality checks and large amounts of coffee… Our eagerness to get musicians into schools was tempered by the lengthy process of laying the technical and administrative foundations of the charity. As a result, we know we’re on a sound footing, even though that’s rarely the most fun part of any job! It also gave us an opportunity to create our website, complete with some composer resources we think will benefit both children and adults in their discovery of classical music – if you haven’t checked them out yet, head to our map and timeline pages and let us know what you think.
We’ve been talking a lot about equity of access, and cultural capital – that it’s easy for those who have it not to realise how lucky they are, and that those who don’t have it are being denied a valuable advantage. This is really the cornerstone of what Synfonia is all about: the importance of music-making in all its forms, ensuring that all children get to experience the benefits – whether that’s through playing an instrument themselves, through singing or clapping, or simply through the joy of active listening.
We were able to start putting our plans into action this summer, with the Hirvi Quartet joining us in Leyton’s Riverley Primary School for some brilliant musical adventures. It was great to see the genuine enthusiasm from the pupils – at an age before preconceptions of classical music have had a chance to form – and the amazing diversity of their responses. It also helped to confirm our belief that using young players really helps to make the musicians more relatable, perfectly demonstrated by the queue for autographs at the end of the session!
Well, it’s one thing to head to a school with enough musicians to fill a taxi, but a symphony orchestra is an entirely different matter… As you’d expect, the biggest challenge is funding – times are tough for most people at the moment and it’s often in such circumstances that the arts slip down the priority list. I’d argue, and I certainly wouldn’t be the first, that at times like these we need the arts more than ever. So we persevere, espresso-fuelled as always, with the increased determination that Synfonia can have a positive impact.
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported Synfonia so far. From those who helped by financing our first steps, to all the people who have given us invaluable advice along the way, we’re so grateful for your help. We can’t wait to share the next stage of our journey with you!