Working with Southbank Sinfonia

Southbank Sinfonia offers graduate musicians an invaluable springboard into the orchestral profession by providing unique performance experience and training. It also recognises the need to select its members according to their dedication to music education and their understanding of their role as advocates for music learning, in addition to their performance ability.

The focus of our partnership is to support Southbank's Sinfonia's Artist Development programme, which trains its young musicians with the skills and confidence necessary to inspire a younger generation of music learners. This activity particularly resonates with what ABRSM believes to be valuable for a sustainable future for music education.

If you work with a primary school, log in to our free Classical 100 resource to see our advocates in action.

Meet five of our advocates

Horn, Southbank Sinfonia 2018

My ambition to become a professional horn player took root when I started attending the Junior Royal Academy of Music at the age of 15. I was surrounded by amazing and enthusiastic musicians and realised that I loved being a part of this world.

I decided to study academic music before going to music college, and gained a place as a music scholar at St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, before completing my master’s degree at the Royal College of Music (RCM). Whilst studying at the RCM with Jeff Bryant, Tim Jones, Simon Rayner, and John Ryan, I was supported by a Michael Quinn award, and I graduated in 2017 with a distinction.

I currently enjoy a diverse playing career. As well as freelance orchestral work, I perform regularly as a chamber musician with the Temple Ensemble around the UK and in France, where we tour the Lot region. I also hold the horn chair in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, with whom I will be performing at Ronnie Scott’s in January 2018. As an orchestral musician, I have trained with the Britten-Pears Orchestra, the LSO Brass Academy, the RCM Symphony Orchestra and Oxford University Orchestra.

A finalist of the Oxford Philomusica’s Youth Concerto Competition in 2013, and winner of Maidstone and Mid-Kent Young Musician of the Year in 2011, I enjoy playing as a soloist and have recently performed Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

In my spare time I enjoy rock climbing and hill walking around the UK, as well as going to the theatre and to pop gigs.

Violin, Southbank Sinfonia 2018

When I was just about four years old, my dad pushed me to be a drummer, specifically a jazz drummer, because my family has a history of jazz musicians. My father was a jazz drummer and so was his father. My mother played piano in the church choir and my sister is a gospel/jazz singer. However, when it came to the day of drum lessons, my instincts were to put the drumsticks up on my shoulder as if I were playing the violin. They realised at that moment drums were out of the question. 

Coming from a musical family – you know the term 'starving musician' – money didn’t come easy, especially as no one was really a professional. I had to work really hard for whatever I wanted in life.

When I was accepted to the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, I created my own fundraisers and concerts to gather up enough money to survive the ridiculous amount of tuition, not to mention the adversity I encountered in my teenage years with my other siblings. My parents would literally see me on the news doing something very successful following the next story of my brothers doing something very horrible: we were popular for opposite reasons if you can imagine. 

After graduating from Manhattan School of Music, and Paris Conservatoire, I started to get a new outlook on life and made a vow to always be better than myself at any given moment and be a role model for others. I would say that became my calling.

Music for me is healing. I use it for when I am happy, or sad or even confused. It always tends to have the answers. For example, what really gets me excited is if I have an impact on someone’s life. I go to my old schools every time I go back to North Carolina to talk with the kids who are maybe dealing with adversity. 

I remember when I first started doing this, I was confused about what I should say. A teacher told me a long time ago to just play violin, that’ll be enough - and she was right! I would get letters saying how the behavioural issues toned down and the kids are working harder than ever. That keeps me motivated, that keeps me going.

Percussion, Southbank Sinfonia 2018

I am from Bromley, London, and I began my musical journey when I started learning the piano aged seven. I took up the drum kit aged 11, and was then quickly ushered into playing orchestral percussion as a culmination of the two skills.

I recently graduated from the Royal College of Music with a First Class Honours Degree. My studies there were generously supported by the Pete Handley Memorial Award.

Some of my most treasured memories from my time at the RCM include performing the world-premiere of a percussion duet with Dame Evelyn Glennie, touring the country with the RCM’s flagship percussion ensemble (performing at the likes of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Eton College) and leading the percussion and timpani sections of the symphony orchestra, under the batons of Bernard Haitink, John Wilson and Nicholas Collon.

My time at RCM was really full on; I was able to take part in an enormous range of opportunities that have left me feeling well prepared for ‘life on the outside’.

As a freelancer, I have performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and the London Sinfonietta. I have also taken part in the ENO Evolve scheme and the LSO academy, as well as being the principal percussionist for both the Britten-Pears Orchestra and the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra.

The two weeks I spent last year with the Britten-Pears Orchestra were absolutely amazing. The orchestra takes residency in Aldeburgh and rehearses every day at Snape Maltings. The course was a perfect musical retreat, long days rehearsing amazing music with an incredible orchestra, followed by fish and chips on the beach, and an evening in a seaside pub.

I also really enjoy performing regularly with the American-style drumline ‘Box9 Drumline’. We play in a variety of settings, (from weddings and corporate events, to sporting events and millionaires’ birthday parties), and with a large range of numbers (from 5 to 25, and with brass and amazing light shows).

I have a lot of amazing memories with the group, and highlights include performing at Twickenham for the Rugby World Cup finals and semi-finals, Wembley for the NFL International Series, and Glastonbury Festival. The group have an amazing sense of camaraderie and we’re all excited to see where our work will take us in the future.

Bassoon, Southbank Sinfonia 2018

My earliest memories from childhood are about me dreaming to play the flute. I come from a non-musical family, so my parents didn’t know exactly how to direct me into it, but when I was five I got my first recorder. All plastic, red with a white mouthpiece. Of course I had no idea about fingerings, but I was running all over the place making those squeaking noises!

At the age of 12 I started my flute lessons, but after one year my teacher told me that I had no predisposition to become a great flautist in the future. I was truly heartbroken, as that was an instrument I always dreamt about! She suggested I choose a different instrument and after trying an oboe, I decided to go with a bassoon – even though I had no idea what it looked like or what sound it made. 

And that’s how I started to play bassoon, in 2002. After my education in Częstochowa I moved to Wrocław for my bachelor’s studies. Later on I lived in Poznań where I completed my master’s.

Through all those years I had never dreamt about moving to UK and living in London. I made up my mind when I met my MA studies teacher, Arek Adamczyk (2005 Southbank Sinfonia member). He was and still is my biggest inspiration in terms of music and life in general.

After the Royal College of Music, I found it really hard to get into freelance work, and I was really close to giving up, but Arek encouraged me to focus on myself and practising. I am truly grateful to him as now, I am a member of Southbank Sinfonia 2018, and I have had two trials since my graduation, with Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in London. So it all turned out really well!

In my free time I like to discover London and local markets. I am also passionate about coffee and food.

Viola, Southbank Sinfonia

I grew up in a small village just outside of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Music has always been a part of my life as my father is a violin maker and repairer, my uncle is a cellist and both of my grandparents on my father’s side are violin and viola teachers. 

I began violin lessons at the age of seven and changed to viola aged 17. I was offered a scholarship to study for my bachelor’s degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Whilst attending, I studied with Andrew Berridge and Stephen Tees and had masterclasses with world renowned viola players such as Antoine Tamestit, Garth Knox and Rachel Beeston.

One of the most inspirational moments of my life came in my third year of studies after I successfully auditioned to be on the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s apprenticeship scheme, which for that year included a two-week tour of India with the orchestra conducted by Sir James MacMillan, and with Nicola Benedetti as soloist. This experience gave me an insight into working side-by-side with a professional orchestra, performing concerts broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 across three cities throughout India.

Since graduating, I have been studying privately with Scott Dickinson whilst working as a freelance musician and teacher. I have performed professionally with the Orchestra of the Swan including tours to both Mexico and Turkey, and also with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Rogue Orchestra, Cairn String Quartet and the Argyll String Quartet.

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