Wednesday 3 February 2016

What is Britten Sinfonia Academy?

When we asked current members "What is Britten Sinfonia Academy?" these are some of the responses we got:

Britten Sinfonia Academy (BSA) is an exciting and dynamic training opportunity for talented secondary school aged musicians from the east of England. Now in its fourth year, BSA is looking to recruit a new generation of musicians for the 2016-17 season. We are looking for young people who love music, are open to new ideas and have a healthy appetite for adventure.

As a violinist I often find myself surrounded by musicians at rehearsals and as conversations flow someone inevitably asks me what my job in the Creative Learning department at Britten Sinfonia involves. BSA is one of many projects the team works on and it is certainly one of my favourites. That doesn’t, however, make it easy to condense what BSA is into a short conversation! “BSA’s players get together to play chamber music alongside our Britten Sinfonia professionals who are really engaged in their development. They explore fantastic repertoire, perform in amazing places, challenge themselves musically with new skills in different musical settings, have a blast, make new friends and and and … the list continues!”   

BSA is captured best in moments. One of my favourites, for example, happened this year. I met an incredibly shy violinist, joining us for the first time at the beginning of the season. She barely said two words at the first rehearsal except to offer to help us set up. This last weekend (half-way through our current season) she sat down as one of two solo lines opening a performance of Steve Reich’s Eight Lines, she took a deep breath and her smile lit up the room along with the beauty of her playing. The rest of the ensemble followed her confident leadership and I could barely recognise the quiet player offering to help with music stands from just a few months ago

“I feel so lucky to play alongside professional musicians and individuals of such high standard who all share the same love for music.” – Current BSA member 2015

One of the nicest things about BSA in a way has nothing to do with playing music. It is the environment in which members can support each other and where new, life-long friendships are born. At our most recent course, I watched a group of 18 players squeezed into a small room, trying to work out where they should seat, what part to play, who was in charge. Following a hectic start, the group started to shape and they worked out exactly who to watch and at what point it was their turn to lead or to help the person next to them. It was fascinating to watch a group of very different individuals of different ages and backgrounds work together to become a single ensemble.

“The academy and orchestra members have shaped me as a musician and given me great memories – not to mention friends for life”BSA alumni violin 2013

BSA is a unique experience for these young people; an experience which compliments their musical activity with their teachers, schools and county youth orchestras. Over a season in a series of intensive courses run ordinarily over 2 weekends during term time, BSA offers skills and development which players then take back to their musical lives elsewhere. We hope, whether they go on to join the music profession or simply to continue to play for pleasure,  that they’ll take the pioneering spirit of adventure, the desire to push the boundaries and explore new possibilities which they learn at BSA, with them.

Applications are now open for chamber orchestral instrumentalists of Grade 8 standard. Applicants need to submit a competed application form together with a statement from their teacher. The successful applicants will be invited to a first round individual audition in April. A selection of players will then be invited for a second round, group audition day in July.

Apply here to join the BSA adventure: BSA 2016-17

Creative Learning Co-ordinator