Professional musicians speak out for Symphony For Life

We reached out to some professional musicians to ask them to endorse the Symphony For Life program; their response was overwhelming.

There have been countless academic studies that prove the numerous benefits of learning a musical instrument from a young age, from improved cognitive ability to heightened emotional and social development. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, access to an instrument and musical training provides children with a lifelong love and appreciation for music.

All children deserve access to quality music experiences, and I wholeheartedly endorse Symphony for Life’s mission to bring music to every child.

Richard Tognetti AO, Artistic Director and Lead Violin, Australian Chamber Orchestra; composer

Musical experiences can be life changing, especially for the young, and I stand with Symphony For Life in its mission to bring the joy of music to children who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity.

Sally Walker, Woodwind Lecturer, Australian National University, Principal Flautist, Omega Ensemble, Ambassador, Symphony For Life

I am delighted to endorse the Symphony For Life Foundation. As a child who was inordinately moved by music and desperate to learn from an early age, I am fully aware of the incredible impact music can have on the life of a child and how this transfers into young adulthood and beyond. The importance of having  freedom of self-expression, creativity and independence is vital along with an innate knowledge that you are part of a huge wonderful community of like-minded individuals. I am grateful for my immersion in music and the many friends and colleagues with whom it has brought me into contact. Learning about music and fostering a genuine love for it in all its varied forms is a wonderful goal and one which Symphony For Life Foundation supports perfectly.

Kathryn Selby AM, Leader, Kathy Selby and Friends; pianist

We all know that every child deserves to be involved in music making. The future developments proposed for the Symphony For Life strike a particular chord with me. Working with composers, exploring the music of their own cultures and the notion of participation across the generations seem to reinforce all the aspects of music making which I feel are most valuable to young people. If only every child were offered such opportunities

Lyn Williams, Director, National Children’s Gondwana Choirs

To find out more about our fundraising initiative, Symphony for Lockdown, click here.

This is a wonderful initiative. I support Symphony For Life and the programme that you have constructed wholeheartedly. In fact, when we are able, I would like to invite as many of these young people as possible to attend rehearsals and performances at Opera Australia when their timetables permit. During this time of extreme difficulty Symphony of Life is showing us all what a true connection to community is all about. You have my complete support.

Lyndon Terracini AM, Artistic Director, Opera Australia; baritone

Rarely have I been so encouraged by a community musical project as by Symphony For Life. This is not just another Youth Orchestra but a way of bolstering the great human potential of so many children whose families recently arrived in Australia. And to do this through music not only validates all of us musicians, but validates all our efforts for the greater good in society

Roland Peelman AM, Artistic Director, Canberra International Music Festival; conductor

“Symphony For Life” is an impressive music education program for children who live in some very difficult situations. Participating in musical activity, where the child becomes an active musical creator, goes a long way in developing self-esteem, confidence, collaboration, and also the experience of joy and beauty. This carefully devised program ensures that children receive systematic and encouraging music education that makes an impact on their self esteem and relationships with others.

Anna Reid, Professor, Head of School and Dean, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney

Happy to endorse this program. Anything that uses good planning and appropriate teaching that enables children to experience the wonders of playing in an orchestra is easy to support. The focus of learning, the intense social interaction and the sheer pleasure of accomplishment involved is something all children should have a chance of doing.

Prof Barry Conyngham AM, composer, former Dean of University of Melbourne Faculty of Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music; formerly Inaugural Vice-Chancellor, Southern Cross University

To find out more about Symphony For Life and the work we do, click here.

The Symphony For Life children’s orchestras program is an initiative that reaches out to mostly disadvantaged children in the West of Sydney, many of them from refugee or immigrant families.

This program speaks to the mutual curiosity and respect that is required of both guest and host for any immigration situation to be a success. That it does so through the medium of music is of significance in that it establishes a common language at the outset where words won’t get in the way.  Long may it flourish. 

Brett Dean, composer; conductor; violist, formerly with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Removing barriers to a high-quality music education is the focus of the Symphony for Life program. Those who participate are able to experience the transformative power of music.

The Symphony For Life program provides an equitable and inclusive education in music that helps to empower individuals and promote their well-being in deeply meaningful ways.  

Prof. Gary McPherson, Ormond Professor of Music, former President, International Society for Music Education, former Dean, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne

Music not only fills us up, it surrounds us. It’s the most communal of art forms. To play music well, we must listen to one another and co-operate. Community, listening and co-operation are things we need more than ever, and Symphony for Life offers them to young people. Through music, we link our imaginations to other generous and creative minds. It requires time, so it’s good to start early. By supporting Symphony for Life we make our world a little brighter, and the future brighter still.

Andrew Ford OAM, broadcaster, The Music Show, ABC RN; composer, author

As someone who believes wholeheartedly in the musical education of all children through the learning of a musical instrument as well as playing music together I am a big supporter of Symphony For Life. This initiative which began in the west of Sydney is now ready to be expanded to other areas of Sydney – especially the area where I grew up around Glebe and Ultimo with the potential for percussion workshops for the children which is of course something I am particularly keen to see happen! I applaud the founders of Symphony for Life as well as all of the amazing music teachers, many of whom are colleagues of mine, for their commitment to such a worthy cause which has already made such a big difference to musical opportunities and experiences for so many children in Sydney.

Claire Edwardes, Music Director, Ensemble Offspring; percussionist

Access to hands-on quality music education should be a fundamental right for all children and Symphony For Life provides this and more to communities. What it is attempting is beneficial on every level and clearly has the capacity to change lives.

Jack Symonds, Artistic Director, Sydney Chamber Opera; conductor, composer. 

Learning to play a musical instrument is an irreplaceable gift of discovering a world of beauty, poetry, emotions, all the things that make life richer and healthier. Practicing and playing together with other young people is a wonderful key to making new friends, to gain a sense of belonging to a dedicated ensemble. I can imagine that hearing an orchestra sound from playing within it for the first time is an experience a child will never forget. The more children can receive access to this incredible world the better this world will become for all of us. 

Symphony For Life is a powerfully worthy programme of learning and inclusion, it is respecting children’s cultural backgrounds  and is developing music to reflect such influences, by commissioning pieces specifically for this orchestra to perform.  It also gives a chance to participate in music to the children who would otherwise not be able to afford an instrument and lessons. Having such an organisation in my home town fills me with pride and optimism. Symphony of Life needs to be widely supported. 

Elena Kats-Chernin AO, composer

It is my wish that all children get to experience the unique thrill of performing in a large symphony orchestra. The sheer overwhelming sound of the orchestra is intoxicating, the beauty of the music is captivating and, most important of all, playing in an orchestra is a life-lesson in how to interact with other people and the important role that every single player has in each successful performance. There is no more valuable lesson in society than learning to respect others and the satisfaction that you, yourself, get from making a meaningful contribution. Not only that, it is great fun and you will make friends for life.

Dean Olding AM, Leader and First Violin, Goldner String Quartet; Concertmaster Emeritus, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

We have known for a very long time that music is an essential component in the development of young minds. Whether that evidence is in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers or the most recent research in the field of brain development. Music is not only good but it vital. Individually it strengthens listening, improves communication skills, develops coordination and opens the door to language acquisition. Socially it connects us with others and strengthens the ability to work as a team. It also teaches delayed gratification in that music is hard when you start but through careful tuition and guidance, skills are acquired and sharpened and enjoyment and fulfilment are increased. 

Music skills can and should be acquired through the voice and through the playing of instruments and it should be something that is accessible to all not just those who can afford it. I myself came from a very modest home where there was no spare money to devote to music lessons outside of what I received in school but despite this, I acquired the skills and was exposed to music at such a profound level that I had no choice but to make it my life’s work and I have worked as a professional musician from the day I left high school.

This is why I endorse without hesitation the wonderful work that is being done with the Symphony For Life organisation. Granting children the chance to learn a musical instrument and partake in ensemble activities is not just something that enhances their development as children, it shapes the entire adult personality. They become our future audience, patrons and parents. Culture is what shapes a society and if we want a society that can grapple with the problems of the future, music education has to be at the heart of what we do. It just makes our society and our lives richer, deeper and fuller. In a word, it teaches us connection.

Brett Peter Weymark OAM, Artistic and Music Director, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; conductor, singer

I write in support of the Symphony For Life children’s orchestra program. Having served for over 30 years in classical music education at institutions in the UK and for almost 20 years now at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, I greatly appreciate what Symphony For Life has already done and has the potential to do for children, not least those financially disadvantaged, many of whom are from refugee or immigrant families.

For young people, learning to play a musical instrument is, according to scientific studies, the best training for the brain. Instrumentalists acquire dexterity and coordination, and they build self-resilience and an ability to multi-task. Importantly, they learn to work with others and to adapt to all sorts of situations and requirements. These are skills that will serve them for life and will make them employable not only in music but in professions beyond music.

The Symphony For Life children’s orchestra program will transform the lives of many young people and build a community of citizens from diverse cultural backgrounds who are united through music.

Neal Peres da Costa, Associate Dean (Research) and Professor of Historical Performance, Sydney Conservatorium of Music; Leader, Ironwood ensemble; harpsichordist, pianist

To donate to our fundraising initiative, Symphony for Lockdown, click here.