Over the next three months, children and tutors from English Sistema programmes will have gone to Italy, Sweden and Canada as part of a European Union Culture Programme funded exchange between Europe and Canada. SMEEC, as it is known, will see fifty seven English children taking part, with each visit culminating in a performance.
The first of the exchanges took place in Italy this month, when ten children from In Harmony Telford travelled to Milan to perform with other young musicians from Italy and Angola, in an event titled Concerto per Cinque Continenti (Concert for Five Continents).
The ten young musicians from In Harmony Telford were selected through auditions held at the office of Mrs Mandie Haywood, headteacher at Old Park. The result was a ensemble composed of Jamie, Tyler and James in the violins, Niamh in the cello, Cole in the clarinet, Bethan in the flute, Laurie-le in the French horn, twins Harvey and Dylan in the bassoons and Trinity in the percussion. They performed at the church of San Giovanni Battista in Robecco sul Naviglio, the headquarters of Sistema Lombardia in Milan and the Teatro Dal Verme.
Ian Thomas, director of In Harmony Telford, explained that this trip to Italy, part of the SMEEC project led by Sistema England and match-funded by the Culture Programme of the European Union, aimed to help the young musicians ‘gain confidence, self-esteem, team-work, and develop peer leadership and support.’
The children rehearsed and performed with Italian conductor Carlo Taffuri, Louise Ashton, a Year 6 teacher at Old Park, celebrated that the children worked with the older musicians, who are ‘at the next level’. ‘This gives them something to aspire to. They’ve just really enjoyed being here and they’ve risen to the challenge every time, and exceeded our expectations.’
In June, seventeen children from Sistema in Norwich and In Harmony Telford will be going to Gothenburg, Sweden. Here, children from England, Sweden and Canada will work towards two concerts over a week of rehearsals, with the big finale a side-by-side concert with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
In July, thirty children from In Harmony Lambeth, In Harmony Liverpool, In Harmony Telford and Sistema in Norwich will travel to Toronto, where they will join children from Italy and four Sistema-inspired programmes from Canada to rehearse towards three performances associated with the Pan American Games, hosted by Sistema Toronto
The SMEEC project (Sistema-inspired Music Education and Exchange with Canada), a major international collaboration led by Sistema England, which aims to allow children from Sistema-inspired programmes on both sides of the Atlantic to get together to perform and is match-funded by the European Union’s Culture Programme. 130 children in total from Sistema programmes in England are participating in SMEEC. Young musicians and teachers will gather in Gothenburg in June for a mass ‘Side by Side’ performance led by Gustavo Dudamel, and travel to Toronto in July to perform as part of the Pan American Games. Organisations working in partnership with Sistema England to make this project possible are SONG Onlus of Italy, European Mozart Ways and Go-operate.