London Music Masters executive director Rob Adediran explains how music can create communities, and what his organisation is doing to make classical music more inclusive
If relationships between individuals are what build community, then music is community. Music exists in the relationships between a composer, performer and audience with each one responding to and engaging with the other. For the charity London Music Masters (LMM) this belief in music as an essentially communal activity both defines and inspires us.
At London Music Masters we are challenging the perception that high quality music needs a rarefied atmosphere to thrive. We work in inner-city schools which serve communities who don’t regularly go to concert halls, and perhaps wouldn’t automatically think of music lessons as a good ‘investment’ for their children. But, as we become more and more a part of the community around us, we find ourselves asking not ‘how can we teach you about classical music?’ but ‘how can we take what you have and use it to transform the art form we love?’ This is because our inner-city communities are alive and vibrant, full of colour and imagination, diverse and beautiful, rich with possibility and full of potential, young and old, energetic and reflective. Who wouldn’t want a music industry that looked like that?
Alongside our work in schools, we support the careers of some of the brightest young stars in the classical music world through our LMM Award. We provide mentoring, a financial award, and performance opportunities to these emerging artists. Crucially, we also bring them into our schools to act as role models to our young people and to play their part in extending the reach of classical music beyond the traditional concert hall setting. One such artist is Benjamin Beilman, who has had debuts at Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall as part of his LMM Award and on 10 December will be premiering LMM’s newest commission, a violin concerto by composer Edmund Finnis. Benjamin will visit one of our partner schools in the run up to his concerto performance and explore ideas of composition and virtuosity with some of our young musicians, who themselves have been composing new music in response to the commission.
We regularly collaborate with musical partners across London and further afield to explore new possibilities in community music making. We recently commissioned a wonderful new work for our partners London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO). It brought 70 of our young performers (aged 8-10) and LPO together to work with composer Gavin Higgins. He created a work of originality and strength and the parents, grandparents, friends, and supporters who witnessed the concert at Royal Festival Hall were treated to a cutting edge performance by a unique ensemble. In doing so, we created a new community.
More than any other art form, music creates community and it belongs at the heart of our communities. It is encouraging to see the movement of inclusive music making activities around the UK, and I am excited about what the future might hold as the classical music community begins to reflect the communities we all live in.
LMM Award Holder Benjamin Beilman and the London Contemporary Orchestra will perform the world premiere of London Music Masters commission Shades Lengthen (supported by the Boltini Trust and Arts Council England) by Edmund Finnis, at 8pm on 10 December 2015 at St John at Hackney Church, London. Full details at www.lcorchestra.co.uk.