TODAY, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House launches a groundbreaking pilot programme for young musicians from underrepresented backgrounds. The new scheme will work with young musicians aged 18-25, prioritising engagement with young people from the global majority and other underrepresented backgrounds.
The scheme will provide essential mentoring tailored to the participants’ individual needs whilst enhancing skill sets, insight and training in the classical music field. The project is being delivered in collaboration with Black Lives in Music, an organisation established to champion diversity in the classical music industry.
Royal Opera House Music Director Tony Pappano said: “Working in any orchestra is a hugely collegiate experience and we believe it’s vital to assist and mentor young talent as they navigate the very beginnings of their career. Gaining access to organisations at the start of your career can feel daunting and overwhelming and we want to support, mentor and positively shape these very first experiences in a professional environment. This new pilot scheme will welcome young, diverse talent, helping them feel like they belong.”
Amelia Conway-Jones, 1st violin in the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House said: “I’m so thrilled and proud that the orchestra are championing opportunities for musicians from diverse backgrounds through this scheme. It’s vital that we work towards a time when we as a group are truly representative of our community in London, and our artistic voice will be hugely enriched by the inclusion of musical voices from diverse backgrounds. As part of the orchestra’s Diversity Working Group, I’m really excited to be involved and to work with the mentees on their journey into the profession.”
Roger Wilson, Director of Operations at Black Lives in Music said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young musicians from across the UK to continue their musical journeys. The project will help to level the playing field for all young musicians and enable them to realise their aspirations of joining the classical sector as professionals. The ROH mentoring project combines traditional mentoring with real opportunities to play alongside and learn from some of the best musicians around, this is a game changer! Initiatives like this will help to break down walls and build relationships. Black Lives in Music are excited to be working alongside the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in this hands-on approach to supporting change in the UK classical music sector.”
Thirteen musicians from the Royal Opera House Orchestra will mentor participants on a range of orchestral instruments. Recruitment for the scheme will be a simple process, reducing barriers to entry and re-thinking the application process so that it breaks with traditional norms and enables those interested to apply in the most accessible way possible.
Participants will be invited to give feedback throughout their experience, and beyond as they embark on their musical careers, to measure the impact of the scheme, with the aim of making the scheme a permanent programme attached to each Royal Opera House Season.
The ROH mentor programme is aimed at young musicians aged 18 – 25, with participants welcome from across the UK. The scheme aims to break-down any traditional barriers to classical music, broadening the available pathways into the industry and make a lasting impact on representation.
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House mentor scheme joins other programmes run by ROH which provide entry level pathways into the arts industry for young talent at the very start of their careers. The ROH Apprentice scheme has been offering sector-leading apprenticeships since 2007 with the scheme recently expanding to include positions in IT, Finance and Marketing. Apprentices gain a relevant industry qualification and are guided by some of the most accomplished and recognised practitioners in the UK’s arts industry. 76 apprentices have graduated from the scheme since 2007 and 90% of those have remained in the creative industries forging successful careers. The Jette Parker Artists programme has been running at ROH since 2001 and has launched the careers of over one hundred and fifty singers, conductors, directors and artists – many of whom had no direct experience and came from marginalised communities across the globe.