Fusion Orchestra

3 Jun

As an active member of LSO Fusion Orchestra, I’ve enjoyed many LSO Discovery projects. The LSO Discovery team have offered me many opportunities to work with the LSO plus many famous composers and conductors; including Nitin Sawhney, James MacMillan and many more… Meeting these guys has been an awesome experience; the project involving James MacMillan’s ‘Into The Ferment’ piece for the LSO On Track Orchestra was fantastic! Getting to meet him and work with him was a super bonus! I absolutely loved every moment of it! Especially getting a chance to perform on the Barbican stage was extremely exciting!

I’ve been joined to the LSO Fusion Orchestra for quite a while now and I’ve enjoyed every session which is mainly held every term holiday, which is fantastic for keeping students busy and entertained over the holidays. I can never get bored of a LSO project, because I know it’ll involve meeting new people and learning new stuff. It’s great that we get to meet London Symphony Orchestra members through these projects, because they help inspire us to fulfil our musical talents. I think the LSO Discovery team is fantastic and should continue doing more projects like this in the future!

Elaine Pang


Lang Lang Piano Day

28 May

The only LSO Discovery project I’ve been to was a wonderful piano workshop with Lang Lang at LSO St Luke’s. He was working with piano students from the Guildhall and it was very enlightening and inspiring. It’s a great venue.

Susie Cassini (via Facebook)

LSO St Luke’s Academy: Philip Cobb

25 May
Philip Cobb

Philip Cobb

LSO Discovery’s work has given me many special memories and opportunities. I was fortunate enough to participate in the LSO St Luke’s Brass Academy in 2008, which I am certain has played a massive part in me now being one of the principal trumpets in the LSO. I am so thankful for the opportunities that taking part gave me and feel privileged to have been part of such a fantastic scheme. Many of the friends I made on the Academy are now members and regular extras with both London and international orchestras. 

When I joined the Orchestra I was overwhelmed by the number of events and projects that take place within the department and I now have the privilege of getting involved with some of these. Once again LSO Discovery has given me another fantastic opportunity, to play my first concerto with the Orchestra as part of the 20th Anniversary Concert on 28 June.

Happy birthday LSO Discovery!

Philip Cobb, Principal Trumpet

Find out more about the LSO St Luke’s Academy on the LSO website:

Animateurs: Rachel Leach

25 May
Rachel Leach (photo © oliviahemingway.com)

Rachel Leach (photo © Olivia Hemingway)

My first encounter with LSO Discovery was back in 1998 – I auditioned for the post of Assistant Animateur without, I can now admit, knowing anything about the role or the department. My audition day included helping out during a family workshop at the Barbican. I was assisting Mark Withers, collaborating with LSO players and helping children make music based around Copland’s Appalachian Spring – a piece I only vaguely remembered from my distant A levels. I blagged my way through the session pretty well and was putting on my coat to leave when another group of children arrived and I realised we had to do it all over again.

When that was done I exhaustedly put my coat on only to discover that I was expected to attend the concert – coat off again and an early lesson learned … they work you hard at the LSO.

The family concert that followed was amazing and within seconds I was hooked. I sat there as spellbound as an 8 year old watching Richard McNicol skillfully unpick several large and famous pieces based on the theme of America, and afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d do up there on that stage with that fantastic orchestra if I ever got the chance. Needless to say I got the job and several years later was asked to present my own Family Concert. Even though by that time I knew all the players well and had planned and planned and planned (no more blagging, this is the LSO!), that afternoon stepping on to the stage with them brought back the same sense of wonder I’d had back at my audition.

I’ve been working with the Orchestra now for 12 years and every time I step on stage with them, either here at the Barbican, at LSO St Luke’s or abroad I still get that same excited tingle. I love this orchestra, and I love my job. Each day is different and the experiences we’ve had in schools, community centres, in hospitals, at LSO St Luke’s and around the globe would fill books and books. I do always try to remember that first time I heard them play and was firmly bitten by the LSO bug and I try in my workshops to pass on that spark of excitement to everyone I meet.

Rachel Leach, Animateur

Rachel Leach presents the free Friday Lunchtime Concerts at LSO St Luke’s, of which the final concert of this season is on 11 June; the LSO Discovery 20th Anniversary Celebration Concert on 28 June; and she will present a Family Concert at the Barbican on 19 February 2011.

String Experience: Sarah Quinn

19 May
Sarah Quinn (photo © Alberto Venzago)

Sarah Quinn (photo © Alberto Venzago)

I auditoned for the LSO string experience scheme in 1996 while I was a student at the Royal College of Music. Given my poor attempt to sight-read the finale of Brahms Second Symphony no one was more surprised than I was when my name appeared on the list of successful candidates.

Having always wanted to play in a professional orchestra, this was a dream come true but this feeling was quickly replaced by crippling anxiety. How on earth was I going to be able to perform on stage with LSO? What if I was hopeless and made a mess of it? I decided to go to a concert at the Barbican in the hope that this would calm my nerves.

So off I went to hear the LSO performing Bartok with Sir George Solti. Oh dear. This amazing concert did nothing to reassure me that this was all going to be wonderful. A bag of nerves, I hurried home to practice.

My first rehearsal was the following week. The programme of Benjamin Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations and Bartok The Miraculous Mandarin was a demanding one and I had been preparing for weeks. I was so worried about being late that I arrived three hours early for the rehearsal. I headed backstage to throw myself in at the deep end.

I needn’t have worried.I heard someone ask if I was “the student”. I am not sure what gave me away – my terrified expression or my ripped jeans and trainers. Everyone was so welcoming and once the rehearsal had started my nerves vanished and I was on cloud nine. The first concert went by in a blur to be honest but I couldn’t wait for my next patch of work – I wished that I could join the orchestra there and then. However … my final concert was playing Stravinsky Rite of Spring with Raphael Frubeck de Burgos. The performance was electrifying – orchestra and audience on the edge of their seats, and then disaster! I came crashing in on my own during a bar’s rest. My worst nightmare – strong and wrong. Everyone was very kind. They told me not to worry and that it happens to everyone at some point. This was no consolation – I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. However it may have been the best mistake that I ever made.

When I turned up to audition for a position in the orchestra a year later I was greeted with “oh it’s you!you are the student who came crashing in during the Rite of Spring!!!” Well at least they remembered

I have been a member of the LSO for almost twelve years now. I help to run the LSO string scheme and I have never forgotten the amazing experience that I had as a student. From the moment I sat down for that first rehearsal fourteen years ago I knew that I wanted to join the LSO. It is the best job in the world.

Sarah Quinn, Sub-Principal Second Violin

Find out more about the String Experience and Wind, Brass & Percussion schemes on the LSO website:

LSO Discovery project videos

13 May

Here are a few videos we’ve made over the years of just a few of the different projects that LSO Discovery runs:

Conducting Masterclass with Valery Gergiev

Trumpet Masterclass with Rod Franks, Principal Trumpet

A-level seminar on Haydn’s String Quartet Op 33 No 2 (‘The Joke’)

Pianist Lang Lang on his week with the LSO

Happy birthday LSO Discovery!

10 May

Twenty years ago the London Symphony Orchestra began its education and community programme LSO Discovery. And twenty years later it is still going strong, getting bigger every year, bringing the LSO and classical music into the lives of countless thousands.

This blog will celebrate the best moments of LSO Discovery, as told by the participants themselves, and through the many photographs we have collected over the years.

If you have been involved with an LSO Discovery project we hope you’d like to share your memories and tell us what it meant to you. You can post an entry to this blog by emailing it to tomo891teme@post.wordpress.com – the subject line of your email will become the title of your post.

We would also like to see your photos! If you have a Flickr account, upload your LSO Discovery photos and tag them with ‘lsodiscoveryat20’ – they will appear on that tag’s page. You can see all the photos that have been tagged here.

We look forward to reading your memories and seeing your photos!