Big Noise orchestra plays for hearts and minds this Christmas

Around 80 young musicians are preparing to raise their bows in public for the first time as their inaugural performance with the Big Noise orchestra movement draws near in Aberdeen.

Big Noise orchestra in Torry, Aberdeen, is getting ready to perform this Christmas

The orchestra from the Torry area of Aberdeen is the latest to be created under the El Sistema model which brings the power of music to less well-off communities.

Since Easter, the young musicians have been getting to grips with the new language of music and on December 10 they will perform a Christmas concert in Aberdeen with the help of a number of musicians from Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

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Laura Horn, 27, team leader of Big Noise Torry, said the young people, all from Primary 3, had been coming on “really, really well.”

She said: “We are really happy with the way things are going in Torry.

“We have had a good response from the community . The vibe ere is that people are loving being part of an identity and are excited about the things that have been happening here.”

El Sistema was founded in 1975 by Venezuelan economist and musicians Jose Antonio Abreu, who was motivated to change less privileged lives through classical music.

The Venezuelan government began fully financing Abreu’s orchestra after it triumphed in an international competition in Aberdeen in 1977.

Big Noise, the Scottish version of the programme, was first set up in Raploch, Stirling in 2008 and then in Govanhill, Glasgow, 2013.

A study published by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health in June found the Govanhill project had generated some significant health and social benefits.

The report found evidence Big Noise “improves confidence in the children, supports participants to lead fuller and healthier lives, offers protection to the vulnerable, and encourages higher school attendance.”

In Aberdeen, the project is supported by Aberdeen City Council with all tuition and instruments given to children for free.

The local authority gives 75% of the funding for Big Noise Torry with a mix of public money and contributions from oil companies behind the project.

The young musicians are kept engaged through the school holidays with breakfast clubs with other programmes including “Take a Musician Home for Tea”, where families are treated to small performances from their children and a Big Noise leader.

Ms Horn said it was the “sheer number” of pupils you could reach out to that made Big Noise so effective.

She said: “Everyone involved with Big Noise is working to a common goal. You can have hundreds of kids playing together. It is not like a sports team, you can have a high number of children involved and that is really powerful.”