When you think about orchestral music, you think of the great capital cities of the world, the homes of the great concert halls and the cities where the great ensembles have residences. New figures from Royal Philharmonic Orchestra suggest that Bromley also has a cultural claim to fame, standing tall alongside the likes of London, New York, and Berlin.
Bromley has the highest concentration of professional orchestral musicians in Britain per capita. Almost 10% of the 90 members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) currently live or grew up in Bromley; as well as the Borough also laying claim to its very own symphony orchestra.
But what is it about this leafy borough that is producing so much musical talent? Toby Street, who plays trumpet for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, credits the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) for igniting his passion for music and kick-starting his own career as a performer. He says: “I was so lucky to have been able to learn from so many talented people at the music trust. The standard of teaching is extremely high, and the opportunities the lessons and ensembles there gave me to learn my craft were incredibly useful – and right on my doorstep! It set me up brilliantly for my career as a professional trumpet player, and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without them.”
At a time when arts education is facing further cuts, it is important to acknowledge the valuable work that local music services do to ensure the continued provision of music-making and performance opportunities for young people around the UK, and to nurture our passion for music.
As the Trust gets set to celebrate their 25th Anniversary this year, its Principal Ian Rowe, remains committed to nurturing young talent and changing lives. He says: “Bromley Youth Music Trust believes that music can change lives for the better and our aim is to provide opportunities to even more than the 5,000 young people we already work with. We deliver individual instrumental and singing lessons, and run 47 ensembles each week; including five symphonic wind bands, five string orchestras and two full orchestras.
He continues: “It is wonderful to hear how many of our alumni are now in positions in professional orchestras, as well as those who have moved on to a variety of other professions but remain lifelong musicians.”
James Williams, Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra adds: “The RPO prides itself on being made up of musicians of the very highest standard and we’re delighted to recognise Bromley as the borough with the highest percentage of professional musicians that either grew up, or currently live there. We must continue to celebrate and nurture our own, home-grown talent and this starts with young people’s access to dedicated music education like that offered by Bromley Youth Music Trust.
“Bromley’s peaceful countryside environment offers relief from the bustle of London and it makes sense that many of our musicians would choose to live in the area and seek inspiration from the natural beauty that the borough has to offer.”
The residents of Bromley are spoilt for choice for world-class musicians and can take advantage of their unique status as the orchestral professional capital with concerts at The Churchill Theatre. On Wednesday, 3 April 2019, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be presenting “Music and Nature” – an apt choice to celebrate Bromley’s stunning countryside. Attendees can expect to hear Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, which conjures up the sights and sounds of the great British outdoors - from calm still waters to intense and dramatic storms. The journey through nature concludes with Beethoven’s stirring Symphony No.6, 'Pastoral', promising an “awakening of pleasant feelings upon arriving in the country”. Tickets: 020 3285 6000 | www.churchilltheatre.co.uk
For further information about the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra or to arrange interviews contact
Find out more about Bromley Youth Music Trust via the website: bymt.co.uk