(c) RPO

For 30 years, RPO Resound has been at the forefront of using music-making to enrich the lives of people in communities across the UK and internationally. Throughout 2023 we’re marking RPO Resound’s 30th Anniversary by exploring some of its life-changing projects. We’re hearing from musicians, practitioners and participants about the impact RPO Resound has had, and looking ahead to the next exciting chapter.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

RPO Resound offers a range of projects to people of all ages with special educational needs and disabilities, encouraging participation with professional musicians and self-expression through music-making. These sessions give participants the opportunity to create and perform new pieces alongside RPO musicians, and regularly include training for staff to provide professional development in support of their interim work. Such projects include our Wandsworth Special Schools Programme, which encourages participants to creatively express their ideas and feelings through music and alternative art-forms in response to a topical theme, and our specially designed Relaxed Performances, which provide accessible orchestral experiences for audiences excluded from more traditional concerts.

Our SEND activities with children and adults across the London Borough of Wandsworth have been a regular feature on the RPO Resound calendar since the partnership emerged in 2006 and we have been fortunate to receive financial support from one of the RPO’s Corporate Partners, Northern Trust. This year’s collaboration with Wandsworth Music delivered creative projects in four special schools, supporting 112 pupils and 42 staff to create new music. This resulted in a sensational joint performance alongside RPO musicians and mainstream peers, which took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 28 March 2023 as part of Wandsworth Music’s annual showcase concert. The programme also featured a fifth cohort engaging with creative dance workshops to add movement elements to the final performance.

RPO Sub-Principal Flute Joanna Marsh has enjoyed working on all areas of the RPO Resound programme since she joined the Orchestra eight years ago. Most recently, she contributed to the Wandsworth SEND project:

‘I never fail to be amazed at the positive impact music has on participants. It’s wonderful to see SEND students in particular developing new skills throughout projects. We recently worked with one young person who was really struggling to engage in any regular school lessons. He loved our music project and we watched his self-confidence grow, which in turn increased his interactions and he came up with some great ideas that formed the basis of the final composition.

‘We are fortunate to work with fantastic project leaders who are very experienced at knowing exactly how to tailor each workshop. No two projects are ever the same and I have learnt to be prepared to adapt very quickly and think outside the box! I find it a real privilege to see how people react and engage to music up close, it makes me feel personally very involved. 

‘I have done so many RPO Resound projects over the years and it is an aspect of our Orchestra of which I am particularly proud. Seeing the positive power that orchestral music has on people from so many diverse and sometimes challenging backgrounds is truly amazing.’

Joanna Marsh, Sub-Principal Flute

Resound at 30 SEND Jo Marsh

What’s next in our SEND programme?

In autumn 2023, RPO Resound will launch a new and expanded series of Relaxed Performances, with concerts in Brent, Reading, Scunthorpe and Sunderland. With an emphasis on accessible and interactive listening, audience members can familiarise themselves with sensory tours at the venue before a relaxed concert experience, and fully immerse themselves through a range of hands-on post-concert activities led by RPO musicians.

‘Finally, a truly inclusive experience for all the family… Loved the fact that my severely disabled son got to conduct his very own orchestra – brought tears to my eyes.’

Sunderland Relaxed Performance Audience Member

This season, RPO Resound will be introducing special schools programmes across the Orchestra’s Residency areas, including in Berkshire, Hull, East Riding and Northamptonshire; this is part of our commitment to demonstrate to the wider community the benefit of a having an Orchestra-in-Residence.

Crucially, access to RPO Resound is free for participants, but every project requires funding, and we are extremely grateful to the many Trusts and Foundations, corporates and individuals who have supported our work over the last 30 years. If you think you could be interested in supporting RPO Resound, please get in touch.

Discover more at rpo.co.uk/resound or contact Huw Davies, Deputy Managing Director: 020 7608 8825 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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