Our month with Crisis & Leonard Cheshire Disability

Throughout four weeks in October and November we have been busy taking part in a series of music workshops as part of our residency at the Crisis Skylight Centre in Aldgate and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

 Crisis is a fantastic organisation that offers support, training and education for people who are experiencing, or have experienced, homelessness and we spent a truly inspiring week in October collaborating with 20 of its members. For many taking part in the workshops, led by Creative Director Jason Rowland, this was the first time they had picked up an instrument since childhood, whilst other members have been trying out new instruments for the first time. Many are highly skilled musicians or talented librettists and all have a wealth of creative ideas that we’ve enjoyed sharing and developing throughout the week. Since the week-long workshop in October, Crisis members have been taking part in weekly flute and trumpet lessons, given by LPO musicians. 

The Crisis members have been creating a piece of music in response to the Royal Academy of Arts’ recent exhibition Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940, which they visited in September. The week’s workshops culminated with an informal sharing of the participants’ work at Crisis, and will be showcased again at a formal performance on Thursday 14 November at the Royal Academy.* 

Over the past few weeks, the Orchestra has also been working with Leonard Cheshire Disability, this year in eight services across London and the South East. Leonard Cheshire Disability supports thousands of disabled people both in the UK and in more than 50 other countries, helping people with physical impairments, learning difficulties and long-term health conditions, as well as their carers, families and friends. The project has been led by workshop leader and singer Jasmine James.

This project has taken a similar approach to that with Crisis, with people who use Leonard Cheshire Disability services receiving art workshops from the Royal Academy of Arts based on the Mexico exhibition that was shown over the summer alongside music workshops with the LPO. These music workshops have included introductions to instruments, performances by the players, lots of singing, and the creation of the participants’ own pieces of music based on their artwork from the Royal Academy workshops. Each service, and each created piece of music, has been hugely different, with some service users reacting to the music in such positive ways that their own care-home staff say that they have never seen such a response in them. Many of these participants will also attend the event at the Royal Academy of Arts on 14 November to perform their work. 

These projects are supported by JTI and form part of wider creative partnership between the Royal Academy, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the LPO and Crisis. 

*Please note that the performance on 14 November is not open to the public.