Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Educational concerts: fad or necessity?

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra world tour 2013 South Africa

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is on a world tour this year in celebration of their 125th year anniversary. I was pleased to see that this "world tour" included a visit to South Africa (where I'm from), as they most often don't. One of the initiatives undertaken by the orchestra included an educational concert in Soweto, one of the biggest townships in Johannesburg. Many parts of Soweto rank among the poorest in Johannesburg. It's hard to imagine, but these children have probably never seen a live orchestra. Whether they ever will again is doubtful. The below video provides a delightful glimpse of the event. What strikes me is the generosity and commitment shown by the members of the orchestra, but also the sheer pleasure and delight on the faces of the children. Their enthusiasm and trepidation on the podium is palpable.

What an honour to behold. I've watched this numerous times with a silly smile on my face each time.

This got me wondering what the purpose of educational concerts really are. Exposure to something new is no guarantee of an appreciation developing, after all. Though without exposure there would be no audience development either. So what if a new passion is ignited? What next?

While living in South Africa, I was made aware of a wonderful initiative called Buskaid, which was launched, by British Viola player Rosemary Nalden in 1992, with the aim of helping underprivileged black musicians in South African townships. Watch the below youTube video of the initiative.

Wonderful causes like these always need help and support, so if you are feeling generous click There is a new project Hope Through Harmony launched by violinist Susie Koh, who was the 2008 World Vision Ambassador of Hope. Their aim is to help orphans and underprivileged children learn to play musical instruments. What a great initiative.

My view is that educational concerts are a necessity and I applaud the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for including them as part of their tour. I also applaud initiatives like Buskaid and Hope Through Harmony for providing opportunities to underprivileged children. Without them the world would be a poorer place.
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