Suffolk

Aldeburgh hosts international Cultural Olympiad orchestra

Aldeburgh Young Musicians
Image caption Aldeburgh Young Musicians rehearsing at the Hoffman Building at Snape Maltings

An orchestra is being formed in Suffolk to perform a series of shows for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

The Aldeburgh World Orchestra (AWO) aims to bring together 124 of the world's best emerging musicians.

They will perform a series of concerts running alongside the Olympic Games next July.

Jonathan Reekie, of organisers Aldeburgh Music, said: "It's a really exciting opportunity for Suffolk to have one of the big cultural events."

The intention is to have the pool of musicians in equal numbers from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Oceania and Europe.

The conductor will be Sir Mark Elder, who is the musical director of Manchester's Halle orchestra.

'Ideals of youth'

Mr Reekie said: "Originally the Olympics was equally about sport and culture and over the years it's become centred on sport, so the London bid tried to redress that with a big cultural component.

"The Olympics is an amazing, ambitious event and we wanted to do something musical that could match that.

"We thought about the ideals of youth, excellence and internationalism and we've got a good start because we already run the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme which is one of the biggest projects in the world to nurture young professional musicians."

The AWO's Aldeburgh residency will run from 6 to 29 July and will include shows at the Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Ingolstadt Festival in Germany, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.

The AWO musicians will also get involved with the Exchanging Worlds educational project with five groups of young people from Suffolk.

These include primary schoolchildren, youngsters from a pupil referral unit, juvenile offenders, further education students and the Aldeburgh Young Musicians.

The project has got a £190,000 three-year National Lottery grant from the Arts Council as well as private sponsorship.

Dame Liz Forgan, chair of Arts Council England, said: "AWO is a groundbreaking project that truly embodies the spirit of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Mr Reekie said: "It's really caught the imagination of sponsors. It is expensive, but so far we're managing to find the money."

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