Opera’s BME mentorship program is a ‘game changer’

The Royal Opera House Orchestra has launched a ground-breaking pilot program for young musicians from under-represented backgrounds, to provide mentorship tailored to the needs of participants while enhancing skills, insight and training in the field of classical music.

The project, aimed at people between the ages of 18 and 25, is carried out in collaboration with Black Lives in Music, an organization created to champion diversity in the classical music industry.

Tony Pappano, Music Director of ROH, said: “Working in any orchestra is a tremendously collegial experience and we believe it is essential to help and mentor young talent as they navigate the whole start of their career.

“Joining organizations early in your career can feel daunting and overwhelming and we want to support, mentor and positively shape those very early experiences in a professional environment. This new pilot program will welcome diverse young 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 program will be a straightforward process, reducing barriers to entry and redesigning the application process so that it breaks with traditional norms and allows interested individuals to apply in the most accessible way possible.

Participants will be invited to give their opinion throughout their experience and beyond at the start of their musical career, in order to measure the impact of the scheme, with the aim of making it a permanent program attached to each season of the Royal. Opera House.

Amelia Conway-Jones, Concertmaster of the ROH Orchestra, “I am so thrilled and proud that the orchestra is championing opportunities for musicians from diverse backgrounds through this program.

“It is essential 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 enormously enriched by the inclusion of musical voices from diverse backgrounds. of the Orchestra’s Diversity Task Force, I am truly excited to be involved and to work with mentees on their journey into the profession.

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

“The ROH Mentorship Project combines traditional mentorship with real opportunities to play alongside and learn from some of the hottest musicians around. It’s a game changer!

“Initiatives like this will help break down walls and build relationships. Black Lives in Music is delighted to work alongside the Royal Opera House Orchestra in this hands-on approach to supporting change in the UK classical music sector.

The Royal Opera House Orchestra Mentorship Program joins other programs run by ROH that provide gateways into the arts industry for young talent at the very start of their careers.

The ROH Apprentice program has been offering top-tier apprenticeships since 2007 and the program has recently expanded to include positions in IT, finance and marketing.

Apprentices gain relevant industry qualification and are guided by some of the most accomplished and recognized practitioners in the arts industry. Seventy-six apprentices have graduated from the program since 2007 and 90% of them have remained in the creative industries building successful careers.

The Jette Parker Artists program has operated at ROH since 2001 and has launched the careers of more than 150 singers, bandleaders, producers and artists – many of whom had no direct experience and hailed from marginalized communities around the world.

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