Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Chamber concert in aid of Arco project

2:23, 15th February 2017

Students at Birmingham Conservatoire are holding a chamber music concert later this month in aid of the Arco (Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music & Birmingham Conservatoire) project, which sees strings students aged between eight and 16 in South Africa participate in weekly instrumental Skype lessons given by academics, current students and alumni of Birmingham Conservatoire.

The concert will take place place at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery on 27 February, and will feature music by Romero, Strauss and Tchaikovsky. Tickets cost £5-£10.

Launched in 2015, Arco brings music to children in the most deprived of circumstances. In addition to regular lessons at Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music in Soweto, Skype sessions allowed students to receive additional individual tuition and string quartet coaching from Birmingham Conservatoire, and the masterclasses, workshops and performances taking place at the Conservatoire were streamed live for the students at MIAGI and the wider community to enjoy.

As well as providing music education activities, Birmingham Conservatoire staff have been acting as role models for vulnerable youngsters living in Soweto, a Johannesburg township affected by poverty and crime.

Arco was originally funded for a year, but its success and a willingness on both sides of the world have seen it continue.

One of Arco’s virtual tutors is final year viola student Alistair Rutherford, who has organised the Ikon Gallery concert. This is one of several fundraising events he has undertaken in aid of the project: over nine months, Rutherford ran the equivalent distance of the length of South Africa’s coastline, clocking up 1,739 miles (2798 kilometres).

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