Since 2008, Sistema Scotland has been using music to foster confidence, teamwork and pride in children across Scotland. Last month, they expanded their efforts to Torry in Aberdeen. Torry is now home to the third 'Big Noise Orchestra' in Scotland, joining Govanhill near Glasgow and Raploch near Stirling.
The Big Noise orchestra is inspired by Venezuela's "El Sistema" movement, a programme that offers free classical music education to more than 500,000 children. Sistema have brought this philosophy to Scotland, where they promote the belief that children can gain huge social benefits by playing in a symphony orchestra. Currently, Sistema offers music education to more than 1,300 children in Scotland.
The Big Noise orchestras have been hugely successful. Big Noise Raploch has produced 17 members of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland and performed at the launch event of the London 2012 Festival. A joint Raploch-Govanhill orchestra backed Nicola Benedetti during the opening ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Torry's Big Noise orchestra consists of over 200 Primary 1 and Primary 2 children from Walker Road Primary and Tullos Primary. They held their first concert on Monday 29th June in Aberdeen. Friends and family of the children were joined by Aberdeen's Lord Provost, a Scottish Government Minister and a representative of the Venezuelan embassy, who all applauded the performance.
Minister for Public Health Maureen Watt MSP, who attended the Torry concert,said, "A recent evaluation by Glasgow Centre for Population Health showed how Sistema Scotland is helping to transform the health, wellbeing and prospects of the children who take part in Big Noise orchestras in Govanhill and Raploch. Now, Big Noise Torry will reap the benefits."
Going forward, Big Noise Torry will run a summer school at Torry Academy for those entering Primary 3. When the new school year begins, children in Primary 1, 2 and 3 will all receive instruction. There will also be nursery and baby sessions. The orchestra will grow through primary school and beyond, with the generation who performed at the launch concert leading the way.
Players of People's Postcode Lottery have been excellent supporters of Sistema Scotland since January 2014, having awarded an incredible £300,000 so far. This funding has been instrumental in the success of the Govanhill and Raploch orchestras, and will be of great benefit to Torry's new orchestra.