Tenever is a high-rise housing estate with a reputation for poverty and crime, located at the end of a tram line in the northern German city of Bremen.
Eight years ago, one of Europe’s best-known orchestras moved their rehearsal rooms to a secondary school on this housing estate and pupils from Tenever found themselves sharing their corridors and lunch tables with professional musicians.
Since then the school’s results have improved, its drop-out rates have fallen to less than 1% and the atmosphere in the wider neighbourhood has been “transformed”, according to Joachim Barloschky, a local official who oversaw a programme of renovation and regeneration in the area.
Next month, the pupils who started at the school at the same time as the orchestra will sit their final exams. There is optimism because the number of pupils leaving school with the lowest qualifications has plummeted and the number staying on to take the Abitur exam at the end of secondary school has risen sharply.
This might sound like the plot of a feelgood film. But for the pupils of Bremen East comprehensive school (known in German as GSO), the musicians of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen have become part of their daily lives.
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