World-famous Philharmonia Orchestra put on a spectacular show at the inaugural Chancellor's Concert in which more than 350 De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) staff and students were in attendance.
The event marks a significant moment in the partnership between DMU and the London-based orchestra which was signed in December 2016 at the London Festival Hall.
DMU Chancellor The Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE joined Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard for a reception ahead of the evening concert at De Montfort Hall, part of the Philharmonia’s spring schedule and 20th year in residence in Leicester.
Conducted by Karl-Heinz Steffens, the evening's proceedings, which featured an impressive programme of Mendelssohn’s ‘Overture to Ruy Blas’, Schumann’s evergreen Piano Concerto and Brahms 3rd symphony, received a standing ovation from a sell-out audience.
The Chancellor’s Concert is one of the first initiatives developed as a result of a partnership in which students and staff are already reaping the benefits.
Philharmonia Orchestra Education Director, Alex Brierley said: “One of the aims of our partnership is to encourage students to attend our concerts. With De Montfort Hall being just up the road from DMU, we have a perfect opportunity.
“We don’t want people to think that we’re a removed organisation who comes to Leicester every so often, but actually engages with students and young people to offer not only entertainment, but employment opportunities.”
Students are already engaging with a Student Ambassadors campaign, which is offering an opportunity for students to enhance their employability, while the Philharmonia encourage more young people to attend their concerts.
The programme is in its early stages, but students will have the opportunity to work with the Philharmonia Orchestra at its residency concerts as well as promoting the orchestra to the student body.
Alex said: “It will be very powerful for us to have student voice represented, with advocates on campus and direct lines to the students’ union working in association with what we’re doing.”
Students and staff had the opportunity to enter a ballot to win tickets for the inaugural concert which attracted huge interest.
Engineering Year Zero student, Jake Morgan who won tickets in ballot, contacted the DMU Music Department to say: "I would like to thank you for the amazing opportunity to come and experience the Philharmonia Orchestra.
"I had never seen a live orchestra performance before and I thought it was outstanding and it has presented me with a new genre of music for my pleasure.
"I would like to thank you again for giving me the opportunity to witness this incredible performance and I hope you are able to give other DMU students like myself further opportunities to experience this unique event."
In the months following the signing of the partnership, Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard has expressed his excitement of what it can offer.
Speaking at a reception ahead of the evening concert, he said: “It’s partnerships like this that provide opportunities that our students deserve.
“We hope that they will engage with the initiatives the partnership will provide, and have confidence to achieve great things.”
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The Student Ambassadors Programme is not the only initiative that is currently in place following the partnership signing.
Earlier this month, the DMU Orchestra conducted by the award-winning Sam Burstin, performed for prisoners in HMP Leicester.
The concert, made possible thanks to another partnership between the prison and #DMUlocal, welcomed members of the Philharmonia Orchestra to play alongside DMU Orchestra musicians.
Alex Brierley said: “There are a wide range of projects involving DMU and the Philharmonia, including some of our musicians playing for the DMU Orchestra and offering specialist coaching alongside conductor Sam Burstin.
“In time we hope our involvement will allow new ensembles to be created and we can work in the development of such projects.
“We’ve also recently been working with families at Highfields Community Centre in Leicester through the DMU Square Mile team and will also be offering lectures at the upcoming Cultural Exchanges Festival at DMU.”
In November 2016, the Philharmonia chose DMU to record their annual Christmas e- card at St Mary de Castro Church next to campus.
Cellist and composer Richard Birchall was one the musicians who performed for the e-card and also played with the Philharmonia for the Chancellor’s Concert.
He said: “Leicester is always a great audience as they are very appreciative and De Montfort Hall is such a stunning venue to play in. We usually play somewhere between seven or eight times here every year and we are very familiar with the city and its people.
“When we’re playing, we want to create a connection and encourage our audience to want to come again.
“We also want to put on a spectacular show and inspire young people who are the next generation to come and watch a classical music concert or even play an instrument.”
Richard said: “There is something about the university environment that is special, with many students having high aspirations when deciding what they want to do in the world.
“We hope the generation of projects and interest from both sides to create a musical community will develop a lot more expertise for the future.”
Keep an eye out for more projects in the coming months.
Posted on Monday 20th February 2017