Awards Day 2023 at BBC Maida Vale Studios

On Sunday 29  October young musicians on our Awards Programme came together at the legendary BBC Maida Vale Studios for our latest Awards Day! This event is part of our long-term partnership with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBCSO), building on previous Awards Days and our Exchange mentoring programme.

In Maida Vale 1 our Award winners rehearsed side-by-side with professional players from the BBCSO, a rare opportunity to learn about orchestral performance. Led by conductor Andrew Gourlay, both morning and afternoon sessions concluded with performances for friends and family. The morning orchestra worked on a spectacular rendition of Der Rosenkavalier Suite by Richard Strauss and the afternoon orchestra on Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel Overture and ‘Vltava’ from Smetana’s Má Vlast.  

The side-by-side experience was amazing. Playing next to the professional made it a lot easier following what was going on in the pieces and made keeping up a lot easier as I could hear how it should sound a lot better than a mixture of sounds within the orchestra.”  

I thought the side by side was fantastic, as I got to not only learn about tips and tricks, but also listen to what it’s like being in a professional orchestra, as well as hear what the audition process is like.

It was an excellent opportunity to gain professional advise about orchestral playing. I also learned a better fingering for my 4th octave C#. I liked that we had time to discuss things with them as well as play side-by-side with them.

Playing alongside professional musicians was very positive because it was a challenge. I appreciated informal conversations with the professional musicians  and their supportive attitude towards young musicians.

Meanwhile students in our production group had the opportunity to record the experience from Maida Vale 1’s Control Room. They learnt how to mic up an orchestra and use the SSL System T mixing desk, to balance and record a performance. They also experienced being part of the production team, looking after the script and editorial side of the broadcast. Finally they conducted and recorded an interview, to be combined with the recorded music to create a self-contained musical package.  

I really enjoyed the day as a whole and learned a lot about working in a professional recording studio. The audio production team where friendly and informative and the learning experience was great. It was interesting to see how to the BBC record classical orchestras and be in one of the most well known recording studios in London.

Downstairs in Maida Vale 3, cellist Gabriela Swallow and percussionist Beth Higham Edwards facilitated musical activities and reflective discussion for both orchestral groups. Joined by members of the BBCSO and AYM Alumni, they worked on more improvisatory, creative music making activities with the young people and encouraged them to learn more about each other as they shared music’s influence on their lives. MV3 provided an intimate setting for the musicians to comfortably share their feelings on the day and how they may use this experience in the future. On the day Gabi says: 

“ It was a brilliant experience working with the AYM young people on their Awards Day. We explored so much together and covered so much ground which helped support them question their role as musicians in the present and the future. It made me feel safe in the knowledge  that the next generation of musicians are quite brilliant and will be shaking things up for the future for sure!” 

Percussionist Beth had this to add:

‘It was such a pleasure working with the AYM award winners. Not only did we get to experience their wonderful playing, but also their amazing creativity and thoughtful discussion on the music industry. It is fantastic to see these young peoples’ talent being nurtured, and to see them wholeheartedly jumping into opportunities which might not otherwise be available to them without AYM.’

Huge thanks to the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Learning Team, BBC Audio Operations team, BBC Chaperones and BBC Audience Services team, our facilitators Gabriella Swallow, Andrew Gourlay and Beth Higham Edwards, our Alumni, our public funders Arts Council England and all the individuals and Trusts who support our Awards Programme.   

You can watch a short recap of the event below. Music featured is a combination of young players from AYM and the BBC SO.

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