Aberdeen to get ‘Big Noise’ music tuition centre

Scotland is set to get a third music tuition centre based on a ground-breaking model which has transformed hundreds of thousand of lives of youngsters in South America.

The 'El Sistema' concept originated in Venezuela in the mid-1970s. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Aberdeen is set to follow in footsteps of the Raploch estate in Stirling and the Govan area of Glasgow by embracing the “El Sistema” concept which originated in Venezuela in the mid-1970s.

The city council has thrown its weight behind the creation of a third Big Noise Orchestra, which is set to be based in the Torry area of Aberdeen under a partnership between the local authority and the charity Sistema Scotland.

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The venture is already being billed as a homecoming for the entire El Sistema movement as the initial orchestra set up by its founder, musician and conductor Jose Antonio Abreu, won its initial funding from the Venezuelan government after a prize-winning performance in Aberdeen less than two years after its formation.

In both Raploch and Govan, hundreds of children are already being given the chance to learn classical instruments and form an orchestra to help build self-confidence, teamwork and pride, as well as encourage a greater community spirit.

It emerged in October that 55 youngsters from Raploch were heading off to Venezuela early next year for a series of special workshops and performances. Other Big Noise Orchestras have also been mooted for Dundee and Fife.

Aberdeen City Council’s education and culture leader Jenny Laing said: We are delighted we have now secured an agreement with Sistema to bring this initiative to Aberdeen.

“We look forward to working with Sistema Scotland to establish a big noise centre in Torry as we believe this project will provide a number of opportunities for the local residents and the wider Aberdeen Community.

“The hope is that having succeeded at learning to play an instrument participants will succeed in other areas of their lives too which will help them to reach their full potential.”

A spokesman for Sistema Scotland, which only launched the Govan Big Noise Orchestra in April of this year, said the Aberdeen could be be up and running by 2015 thanks to the council’s “very firm commitment.”

He added: “Aberdeen seems ready to make a very firm commitment to a Big Noise orchestra in Torry and things are looking very positive.

“We have arrived at this point following long-running discussions with the council and the local community.

I think everyone is extremely excited about the prospect of a third centre in the Big Noise family, especially as Aberdeen has been so important historically in the development of the El Sistema movement.

“In 1976 Maestro Abreu brought an orchestra to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. They wowed everyone in the Music Hall and won a prize. This was a major breakthrough for the movement and the Venezuelans still talk about it as a turning point.”