Opera House’s BME mentorship scheme is a ‘game changer’

The orchestra at the Royal Opera House has launched a groundbreaking pilot programme for young musicians from underrepresented backgrounds, to provide mentoring tailored to the participants’ needs whilst enhancing skill sets, insight and training in the classical music field.

The project, for people aged between 18 and 25, is being delivered in collaboration with Black Lives in Music, an organisation established to champion diversity in the classical music industry.

Tony Pappano, the music director of the ROH, 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.”

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 scheme’s impact, with the aim of making it a permanent programme attached to each Royal Opera House season.

Amelia Conway-Jones, first violin in the ROH orchestra, “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.”

And Roger Wilson, director of operations at Black Lives in Music, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young musicians.

“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.”

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 arts industry. Seventy-six apprentices have graduated from the scheme since 2007 and 90per cent 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 more than 150 singers, conductors, directors and artists – many of whom had no direct experience and came from marginalised communities across the globe.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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