Schoolchildren discovered joy in the sound of music when they took part in an exciting new project with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Youngsters from four special educational needs (SEN) schools in the city have been given the chance to work with members of the world-renowned orchestra.
Sunningdale School, in Shaftoe Road, were the first to experience an interactive concert, with the classroom visit from eight members of the orchestra forming part of a new national project called ‘Sound Around’.
The professional musicians also attended North View Academy and will also go into classrooms at Columbia Grange and Barbara Priestman schools as part of a two-day visit.
Delivered across the city by a partnership of Sunderland City Council working through Sunderland Music Hub and the Sunderland Empire, the project aims to create more opportunities for children and young people with additional SEN needs.
Pupils were treated to instrument demonstrations, along with interactive elements for pupils to sing and move along to, and a range of well-known orchestral favourites.
Sunningdale head teacher Celia Wright was delighted the youngsters had been given this opportunity.
“These are elite musicians and I think its a fantastic opportunity for the children to be involved in this unique experience,” she said.
“We have children who have severe learning difficulties and life-limiting conditions, so to be a part of this is fantastic for them.”
Stuart Bruce, partnership manager with Orchestras Live, which created the ‘Sound Around’ project with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, said it was the first time anything like this had come to Sunderland and he expects to see hundreds of children take part.
“The ‘Sound Around’ project is truly inclusive, putting young people at the heart of producing as well as experiencing live music events with a world class orchestra,” he added.
“This is our first collaboration with Sunderland Music Hub and Empire Theatre, and we hope it will be the starting point for further inspirational youth-led orchestral youth-led projects in the area.”
Funded through the Arts Council, and Sunderland Music Education Hub, along with local trusts and foundations, the project aims to get children to engage with live orchestral music as part of their development.
The project has also seen more than 17 young people from SEN mainstream schools recruited to take part in workshops with staff from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Sunderland Empire.
Young people from SEN and mainstream schools in Sunderland will work alongside the professionals to produce, programme and present three concerts at the Sunderland Empire.
The first will be a performance of orchestral chamber music on Sunday, March 26, suitable for young people with additional needs, followed by two full school orchestral concerts at the theatre on Tuesday, March, 28.
Rebecca Pedlow, manager of the Sunderland Music Hub, which provides school music services on behalf of Sunderland City Council, added: “We are delighted that Sunderland Council has been able to support bringing this major national project to Sunderland, one of only six areas across the country.
“There are seats available for the schools concerts on March 28, an opportunity that not supports many curriculum targets in class, but will also be a rare opportunity for children to experience a 70 piece London orchestra live at our great local venue, the Sunderland Empire theatre.”
Sunderland City Council Deputy Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Coun Lynda Scanlan, said: “This is something totally different for them and it is wonderful.
“We want to provide every pupil in every school in our city with the chance to achieve their full potential, and this music project will help play a great role in this on-going process.”