Rhinegold Photo credit: Ochestra of the Swan
OOTS record The Evening Falls composed by Priestly Smith School

Fiona Simpson

Orchestra of the Swan helps special school pupil win place at conservatoire

2:33, 27th July 2020

A Year 13 pupil at a special school in Birmingham has won a place at the city’s Royal Conservatoire with online support from the Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS) during lockdown. 

Professional musicians from OOTS had worked with pupils from Priestly Smith special school since September 2019 and were due to complete their residency in May 2020. 

However, the work was forced to stop due to lockdown restrictions in March, prompting OOTS to carry on interacting with pupils remotely, recording music composed by the students, many of whom are blind or have special educational needs and disabilities.

Year 13 pupil Vinicius Motta composed and arranged two of the scores that have been recorded by OOTS and has gone on to win a place at the prestigious Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

He will now hear his composition ‘The Evening Falls’ turned into a recording that will form part of his professional portfolio.

Vinicius said: “It was a great experience working on this project with Orchestra of the Swan. I hope that the recording they are giving me may help me to secure the extra funding I need to take up my place at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in September.”

John McGonagle, music teacher at Priestley Smith special school, added: “Working alongside Orchestra of the Swan has been a wonderful experience. Pupils have had the opportunity to access orchestral instruments with 1:1 professional and bespoke SEND tuition. Pupils tell me that it was great to feel the instruments and enhance their understanding of the instruments within a ‘tactile’, hands-on environment.”

Meanwhile, Chris Allan, a cellist with Orchestra of the Swan, said: “In our group, after a few weeks learning their pieces, all 19 pupils felt confident enough to perform publicly, either through song or playing instruments. This is a remarkable achievement in itself and in particular it’s wonderful to make a contribution to Vinicius’ future career in professional music making.”

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