Association of British Orchestras

Orchestras everywhere

Britain’s world-leading orchestras are well known for their great performances in the concert hall – and rightly so. Each year, they play to more than 4.5m people in over 3,500 concerts and performances in the UK, and tour to around 35 countries across the world. Audiences are growing and orchestras’ performances are increasingly being broadcast, streamed and downloaded.

But performances and concerts are just one part of our members’ work. From the classic films of the Ealing Studios to the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, and from mobile phone games to the world’s top tourist attractions – even away from the concert hall British orchestras are at the centre of the best known and most popular entertainment. Because of their collaboration with other parts of the creative industries, our orchestras reach not only the millions who see them in concert halls, but the billions who hear them through film, TV, games, pop and rock concerts and at other events and locations. It means that everyone can enjoy great music played by the world’s best orchestras.

Our orchestras are everywhere. The diversity of British orchestras’ work demolishes the myth that they are only enjoyed by a small number of people. The reality is, they are at the centre of globally popular entertainment: the best of the best, that you can hear when you watch, play, visit or listen, making everyday life special.

The second phase of our Orchestras Everywhere campaign is British Orchestras in the Community.

Joyce, Crisis Centre

Joyce is at risk of homelessness. Last year she almost had her council home taken away and was saddled with debt after being forced to pay back her housing benefit. She was left with only £30 a month to take care of her elderly mother.

Last Christmas, Joyce went to Crisis on the recommendation of a friend and found a wonderfully supportive and creative environment. She sought advice, and discovered the opportunity to play the clarinet in a project run by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Joyce has always loved music and threw herself into composing songs and performing alongside professional orchestral musicians at Southbank Centre.

Joyce is now volunteering with Crisis to help homeless people and those in need.

Find out more information.

Lenka, Thomas Tallis School

Lenka suffers from hearing loss, wearing hearing aids in both ears. She moved to England at the age of 9, speaking little English and lacking confidence when she arrived. Last year, her teacher at Thomas Tallis School encouraged Lenka to join a project with professional orchestra players from the London Philharmonic. Lenka had never played music before but now she’s singing and playing the xylophone for her school.

Find out more information.

Patrick*, Royal London Hospital

*name has been changed

Patrick is 8 months old, the youngest of three. When he was born, he had to have an operation on his stomach. Now he’s not growing as he should and staff at the Royal London hospital have to help him eat.

Patrick’s parents are with him in the hospital every day, and say he is hugely popular with staff. Every week, players from the London Symphony Orchestra visit to play and sing for unwell children. Patrick’s face lights up when he hears music, and his parents say it is having a really positive effect.

Find out more information.

Pam and Richard, BUDI Orchestra

A year ago, Richard was diagnosed with dementia. The sense of isolation was unbearable and it changed his and his wife Pam’s lives forever. Together, they became involved in a new project with the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra, working with people living with dementia. 99% of the participants had never played an instrument. Pam says Richard was hesitant at first, but once he got involved, he’s never looked back.

Find out more information.

John Scurr Primary school

Our schools are full of natural musicians like this young 7-year old. Over the last year, he’s been involved in a project between the City of London Sinfonia, John Scurr School, and Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service (THAMES), helping to develop his talent and love of music.

Many of the children taking part in this project come from socially deprived backgrounds and relish the chance to access quality orchestral music and instruments.

In a time of limited resources for music and arts services, projects like these provide a valuable opportunity for young people across the UK to enjoy and express themselves through music, often enhancing their wider education and well-being.

Find out more information.

Martin Carney, Eccles fire station

Martin Carney has been a firefighter for almost 30 years. While accompanying his daughter to a workshop, he met members of the BBC Philharmonic orchestra. Together, they created a one-of-a-kind collaboration called Hotstuff, where orchestra players and firefighters used fire equipment to perform classical music in the fire station to their community.

Since then, Martin has been involved in a range of projects with the orchestra, benefiting local heroes such as dinner ladies, nurses and refuse collectors. It has brought them and the firefighters closer to their community, who in turn have experienced world-class music for the first time.

Find out more information.

Related information

Read the full report

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in early 2022. Further details will be available soon.