Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!

by The Nucleo Project
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Keep N. Kensington Children's Orchestra Playing!
Braimah Kanneh-Mason playing with Nucleo
Braimah Kanneh-Mason playing with Nucleo

We finished this unforgettable academic year in style, with a very special performance. On 3rd July we were hugely excited to finally bring the North Kensington Children’s Orchestra together with violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason, singer Ella Knight, and conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa.

The North Kensington Children’s Orchestra Unmuted! project gave our young musicians the opportunity to meet and hear from two professional musicians in a Q&A session, take part in online masterclasses with them, and play alongside them at a Porchester Hall. Crucially it provided a chance for young people of colour, who make up most of our musicians, to connect with two Black professional artists and learn from their experiences. Musicians of colour are a very small minority in the world of classical music at professional level. The same is true of female conductors. We wanted to introduce our young people to role models they could identify with. 

After months of practice and preparation, it was a real joy for our young musicians to play together as an ensemble once again, and very exciting for them to do so alongside professional artists. Restrictions were still in place at this time so we weren’t able to have a live audience, but it was still a great atmosphere. The recording can be watched here.

We are thrilled to say that we are now back teaching in person and we’re looking forward to a day not too far off when we can be back in the room with our favourite audience-members – we miss you all! On behalf of all the children at Nucleo, thank you for keeping the North Kensington Children’s Orchestra playing! 

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Baritone Horn Rehearsal
Baritone Horn Rehearsal

We are so excited to share with you all the biggest news at Nucleo since March 2020 – we are finally back onsite and playing together in person! Rehearsals have never sounded so sweet. Of course, we’re not gathering quite the way we were before – we’re still working in smaller groups, wearing masks and sanitizing obsessively! But it’s really good to be back.

Many of our newest musicians came into school last week for their first in-person lessons ever, and we couldn’t believe how much they had already learned. Meanwhile, our more experienced students continue to go from strength to strength: another Nucleo musician was recently offered a place to start at the Royal College of Music Junior Department in September, and April brought another round of excellent ABRSM exam results. Students as young as 6 took exams ranging from Grade 3 to Grade 8, with over 80% earning merit or distinction, and we are particularly proud of our second-ever grade 8 distinction!

We are now looking ahead with great excitement to our next performance. Over the past few months, our orchestras have been hard at work preparing repertoire that they will perform with Nucleo’s first ever guest soloists. We are absolutely thrilled to be working with violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason and singer-songwriter Ella Knight, who have already run some fantastic Zoom workshops with our children and will be joining them to perform together in person in July. We are also honoured to be joined by guest conductor Natalia Luis-Bassa, who will be leading the performance. We won’t be able to have a live audience present for this event, unfortunately, but it will be filmed and shared with all our friends and supporters. Please subscribe to our newsletter for more details. 

Between our return to in-person rehearsals and the upcoming performances with our very special guests, we’re all full of excitement and hope at Nucleo this spring. We could not have got through this year without our amazing community of supporters. Together, we kept Nucleo’s North Kensington Children’s Orchestra playing. Thank you! 

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Thank you to the NHS
Thank you to the NHS

The past year has been difficult for all of us. And with UK charities facing a £10bn funding gap due to Covid-19, raising funds is tougher than ever before. Your support has meant so much to us during this challenging time. 

At Nucleo we have faced these constraints together as a community in a positive, proactive way. Back in September we welcomed over 300 students to the start of another year at Nucleo, online! Since then, our teachers have continued to see us through the pandemic with energy, creativity and good humour. New beginners as young as 3 took their first instrumental lessons over Zoom in the Autumn term, and our students of all ages undertook with great gusto as many new games, Zoom performances, video recordings and fancy dress lessons as their teachers could invent. And this year we are excited to announce that our students will be working with two incredible soloists, violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason and singer Ella Knight. We can’t wait to get started (virtually) on this project. 

Many of our children go on to achieve recognition from some of the leading national organisations: to date 12 have successfully auditioned for the National Children’s Orchestra and 10 have been accepted into the Royal College of Music Junior Programme. And we are incredibly proud to announce that one of our students achieved ABRSM Grade 8 Distinction in December, despite not being able to attend face-to-face lessons since March. 

At Nucleo, music is also all about community. We are passionate about bringing children of different backgrounds together and uniting them in a common purpose. As one Nucleo parent put it:

The “Nucleo Project is an inspirational programme for both my children and we feel part of a big family at Nucleo. They have learned commitment and made long lasting friendships and they always feel supported by the teachers there. With the dedication and support there, they have managed to do so well with graded music exams too.

No matter the obstacles, The Nucleo Project remains committed to providing an outstanding musical education to our students whether this is online or in person. And with your continued support we feel optimistic about the future. 

Together, we can keep Nucleo’s North Kensington Children’s Orchestra playing!  

An online recital
An online recital

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An online music lesson
An online music lesson

The last several months have been as strange, challenging and hopeful at Nucleo as they have the world over. In March, The Nucleo Project's North Kensington Children's Orchestra had to stop playing as a group due to COVID-19. We knew that it was unsafe to meet, but also that the outlet of music and the familiar support of the Nucleo community could help our students and their families during this difficult time. Our teaching team acted quickly, preparing material to keep our students playing through lockdown and to move our summer term online. 

Thanks to your support we have been able to continue providing the free high-quality teaching we are renowned for, with nearly 240 online music lessons held each week. Fortunately, we were able to provide a handful of tablets for students who would not otherwise have been able to join online lessons, and our “Nucleo home delivery service” kept our kids provided with a steady stream of new reeds, replacement strings and rosins, as well as upgrading outgrown instruments. We were especially impressed by the many Nucleo string-player parents who rose to the challenge of learning to tune their children’s instruments! 

In our efforts to keep the Nucleo community connected we created a number of videos and online challenges which we shared on social media. Perhaps the highlight was our “Thank you NHS” video, made in May, which featured performances by over 100 students, parents and teachers and can still be viewed on our YouTube channel.

We are also thrilled to share that after submitting video auditions during lockdown, three more Nucleo students were awarded places at the Royal College of Music Junior Department. We are proud to have been able to offer every Nucleo student the chance to continue their lessons, and were blown away by what many of them achieved. Keeping our kids playing through lockdown was a true team effort by the whole Nucleo community, made possible by our supporters.

We have over 300 children enrolled for this term and with your ongoing support we will continue our excellent online provision, until it is safe to meet again as an orchestra. It costs an average of £1,000 per child to deliver our programme each year. As a charity which is solely funded by donations, we are particularly reliant on the generosity of our regular supporters. On behalf of everyone at Nucleo, thank you for your support. 

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Organization Information

The Nucleo Project

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @nucleoproject
Project Leader:
Sophie Drysdale
London, United Kingdom

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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