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Odyssey's Schools Programme

Welcome to the Odyssey Festival Orchestra's Schools Engagement Programme page! Here you can find out more about the opportunities we can provide for your students, why we do what we do and quotes from previous students and teachers who have been involved with us. Or head to the bottom of the page to download the impact report from our most recent concert! 

If you're a teacher at a state school who'd like to get involved with our programme in any way or learn more, please email education@odysseymusic.org to contact Clara, our schools programme manager. We'd love to hear from you!

What we offer your students:

  • Free tickets to all our concerts

  • A free in-school workshop about the music before the concert to introduce the students to the pieces they will hear

  • Free drinks reception either before the concert or during the interval with members of the orchestra and their instruments!

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Clara, our schools programme manager, talking to some students before our most recent concert

Goals of the Odyssey schools engagement programme

Less than 2% of the concert-going public is under 25 (The Audience Agency, 2017 (most up-to-date survey)). Many young people are unfamiliar with, and possibly even intimidated by, the idea of a live classical orchestral concert. As a result, under-18s are missing out on a crucial element of cultural history and the opportunity to have enjoyable and inspiring musical experiences. One of the central aims of Odyssey is to improve access to, and enjoyment of, the concert hall experience, especially for the younger demographic. This is achieved in part by offering London schools, mainly from inner-city boroughs such as Southwark, the chance to bring students - free of charge - to vibrant concerts at premier London venues performed by Odyssey's talented young orchestra (aged 18-30) of professional and amateur musicians.

An engaging and imaginative concert experience

We use imaginative programming, including actors and narrative, to explain and present great orchestral works in their historical and cultural context. This way we aim to make the concert-going experience even more exciting, reaching out especially to younger adults who might otherwise be daunted or uninspired by a traditional, uninterrupted classical music performance.

 

We actively reach out to local schools in inner London to invite them to concerts and to offer pre-concert talks and workshops. We hope that the free tickets, along with workshops and accessible, entertaining programmes, will instil a lifelong love of classical music that will lead to more diverse audiences in future. 

 

We are particularly keen to reach children who rarely, if ever, have attended a concert.

The audience for our September 2023 concert had 21% attendees under 25 – significantly higher than the average national figure of 2%. 

Hear what students have to say about their experience with Odyssey:

“Daphnis et Chloe was my favourite. It was already my favourite piece by Ravel but the way the musicians were no longer individual players but rather all as one, was such a beautiful thing to experience. They allowed the audience to be present in the building of tension and when it was released, it was an extraordinary moment.”

"It is amazing what you are doing, I am very passionate about orchestral music and I know it was a very important event for young people to witness it for the first time, and you made that happen. This project will change young people’s lives hopefully for the better. Thank you"

Impact

For our September 2023 concert, five schools brought students to our concert.

  • 50% of the students who attended said it was the first time they’d attended an orchestral concert

  • 68% of them had been to two or less orchestral concerts

  • 86% of students said they would be encouraged to go to more concerts like this

  • 100% of teachers said they were ‘very likely’ to take up a similar opportunity again in the future

 

For our January 2023 concert, seven schools brought students to our concert.

  • 81% of the students who attended said it was the first time they’d attended an orchestral concert 

  • 88% said the readings and narrations enhanced their enjoyment of the music

  • 100% of teachers were very likely to take up a similar offer in the future

  • 100% said that the free pre-concert talk helped build pupils' enthusiasm for the concert a lot.

Hear what teachers have to say about our schools programme:

Thank you so much for offering us the tickets. Out of the 13 students I brought, only 3 of them had been to a classical concert before and it certainly wasn’t in a venue such as QEH! All of them absolutely loved the concert – particularly the Gershwin pieces – and it meant so much to them (although you won’t have realised it) to see a soloist who looked like them and who they could relate to. Several of my boys came away asking if they could learn to play Rhapsody in Blue!

Congratulations on a brilliant concert! We all really enjoyed it and the children who came loved it – I’m sure it’ll leave a big impression on them. Some of the parents have been in touch saying how much they and their children enjoyed it and found it a unique experience – so just want to pass that on, too. For many this was probably their first live classical concert! Thank so you much for the opportunity to have these tickets and for coming to visit the school back in December.

Fantastic choice of repertoire and the concert was phenomenal - playing was fantastic and I (as well as the young people) really enjoyed the drama element.

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Members of the orchestra talking to some students before our most recent concert

Read the full impact report from our September 2023 concert here:

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