BPO Education Programme

The orchestra has for many years invited young people from schools in Brighton & Hove to attend an orchestral rehearsal in Brighton Dome Concert Hall during our main season. We are keen to introduce young people to the exciting sound world of classical music and to ensure that they have the opportunity to hear what an orchestra sounds like. Of course many of them will have heard the soundtracks to films without realising what produces the wonderful music that can have such a powerful effect on the emotions.


Thanks to donations by Friends of the Phil and financial support from the Fonthill Foundation and Sussex Masonic Charities, and working with SoundCity, Brighton & Hove’s Music Hub (part of Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd) the orchestra has greatly expanded its education programme over the last four years. We have now provided 28 free interactive music workshops in local schools bringing live music to over 1,500 children, and attendances at our annual Open Rehearsals at Brighton Dome have risen from just 80 in 2015 to 898 in 2018.

On the morning of Sun 25 March 2018 we welcomed nearly 900 children and their families to the Dome Concert Hall to watch and listen to the orchestra rehearse for that afternoon’s concert, including groups from four schools and children on the Furthering Talent programme sponsored by AYM (Awards for Young Musicians). This was the culmination of the season’s education project, which saw eight workshops given by the orchestra’s Principal Percussion Donna-Maria Landowski and Principal Trumpet John Ellwood take place in local schools, reaching over 520 children.

In a change of format to previous years, the first part of the rehearsal was structured specifically to give the children an exciting introduction to the different sections of the orchestra and the sounds they can make, with a fanfare by Malcolm Arnold giving the brass section a great opportunity for showing off!

The orchestra also played a waltz from Barry Wordsworth’s arrangement of Coppélia by Delibes and were joined by pianists Worbey & Farrell for the exciting finale of Carnival of the Animals.

The children left animated and excited by the experience, with many parents taking the time to thank us for such a wonderful opportunity to experience live classical music (which was free of charge to attend), in some cases for the very first time.

Our grateful thanks to Sussex Masonic Charities and those Friends of the Phil and individuals whose donations funded the free workshops. Thanks also to the following volunteers, without whose assistance on the day we could not have organised such a huge event, Friends of the Phil: James Booth, Ruth & Richard Bosworth, Penny Crawley, Ann & Martin Higgins, Cathy John, James Simister, Philip Thompson, Sarah Tobias & David Willingham. Also Gemma Seymour, Jacqueline Jones and Jools Wood, our official photographer David Gerrard, BPO Vice- President Karen Platt, Chairman Nicolas Chisholm and Trustees Ken Childerhouse & Chris Thomson.

We are particularly grateful to Brighton Dome for their kind assistance with the additional costs incurred by such a well attended event, and must also thank Clare Bowskill, Visitor Services Manager, and the front of house staff, Jody Yegba, Programmes Manager, and to Steve Cotton, Head of Ticket Office, and Steve Bennett, Ticket Office Manager, and the Box Office team who handled the individual bookings.

Below are a selection from the many messages we received on the day:

We have seen a pleasing increase in the number of young people attending our concerts in recent years. To attract even more we offer special-rate tickets for those who play in the Brighton Youth Orchestra and for members of the Brighton & Hove Music Hub and their parents, and a 50% discount for students which we actively promote to both universities. Family tickets mean two children under the age of 16 can attend our concerts for just £1 each if accompanied by a ticket-bearing adult.

Future plans to develop our education programme depend on our ability to raise the necessary funds. If you would like to help in any way, please contact Nicolas Chisholm, MBE, Chairman of the Society.

Brighton & Hove Philharmonic Society Ltd

41 George Street, Brighton, BN2 1RJ

(01273) 622900

Email: mail @ brightonphil.org.uk


Workshops given by Brighton Phil musicians John Ellwood (trumpet) and Donna-Maria Landowski (percussion) took place in January and February 2017 focussing on Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No.1, an exciting piece of music full of vivid folk-tunes and gypsy rhythms.

Children in Year 6 at Benfield Junior School came alive, listening intently when John Ellwood played the theme tunes from Harry Potter, Postman Pat & Star Wars, and becoming very excited when John let them blow into different mouth pieces.

The Furthering Talent group, who came to our film music concert in early December 2016, were treated to their very own percussion workshop by Donna-Maria, and the music was so infectious that some of the parents joined in too, with the Marimba proving a particular favourite. (A short video clip of this can be viewed on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BrightonPhil).

These culminated in our Open Rehearsal for Children on Sun 5 March 2017 when several hundred children and their families enjoyed seeing and hearing the orchestra rehearse the piece, and Elgar’s Symphony No.1 in Brighton Dome Concert Hall.


Chairman Nicolas Chisholm introduced guest conductor Cristian Mandeal, the different sections of the orchestra and their instruments, and the music being rehearsed – Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No.1 and Elgar’s Symphony No.1. The presence of two harps and so much percussion on stage really inspired a number of children, who told their parents they wanted to learn to play those instruments!

Below are some pictures from the rehearsal, courtesy of David & Jean Gerrard.

“We received so many positive comments from parents, but for me the highlight was in the concert interval itself when two bright eyed children came up to me to thank us all for giving them such an unforgettable experience. They had been to both the rehearsal and the concert itself. They agreed that it would be something that they would always remember.”NICOLAS CHISHOLM, MBE (CHAIRMAN, BHPS)
“I just wanted to say what a wonderful morning I had at the open rehearsal. The Elgar moved me to tears! Thank you so much for providing such an opportunity for my kids and I.”A PARENT
Thank you so much for organising the school visit to The Dome for the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsal yesterday. Although neither of us are ‘musical’ we are very keen to encourage “D”’s interest in learning to play the violin and any instrument “L” may like to take up in the future. Therefore yesterday was quite an amazing experience – the first piece (Enescu) was just magical – almost like being transported into a Disney film!! I think we were all quite transfixed!!

I found it fascinating watching how the orchestra worked – from the comments from the conductor, the musicians pencilling notes on their sheet music, quickly turning pages of music whilst still playing (I saw trumpeters still blowing a note while doing that!) and it was nice to see that in their down time they also study their mobile phones like the rest of us!!

Anyway, thank you! As a parent I absolutely loved it and am so happy that my daughters had the experience!!” A PARENT

“Many thanks for a wonderful Open Rehearsal yesterday, the children from my school thoroughly enjoyed themselves and particularly enjoyed being placed in those great seats in the Choir Stalls!

The vast majority of the parents had never been to a live orchestral concert before let alone their children so it was a treat for everyone! I know they were a bit fidgety at times so please apologise to the players but it is such a wonderful opportunity to bring live Classical Music to children and adults who would not normally get a chance to experience it.

I am looking forward to next year already! I do hope that the concert was a success, I was very impressed with Chloë Hanslip, what wonderful playing.” A TEACHER

We are most grateful to those Friends of the Phil and retired educators who contributed so generously to last year’s education project, and to Sussex Masonic Charities who have pledged some financial support for this year when we will be focussing on Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals in our workshops in local primary schools and at our Open Rehearsal on Sunday 25 March 2018.


In 2016 thanks to a further grant from the Fonthill Foundation, and individual  donations, nine more schools benefited from workshops given by Roland Roberts (violin), Donna-Maria Landowski (percussion) and Matthew Forbes (cello) focussing on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.  The second movement of this wonderful piece is one of the Classical 100 pieces of music being promoted by ABRSM, in association with Classic FM, with online resources available to primary schools at: http://gb.abrsm.org/en/

Workshop participants and children from primary schools throughout Brighton & Hove were invited to our open rehearsal at Brighton Dome, on Sunday 14 February 2016, to hear Scheherazade rehearsed by the full orchestra, with the opportunity to interact with the conductor and musicians.  Nearly 400 children/parents/teachers attended and a gallery of images from the event is available to view below.  The children were offered free tickets to the afternoon concert with a special discounted rate for accompanying adults and we were delighted to achieve a season’s best audience that afternoon with several families returning to take advantage of this.



In 2015 six schools enjoyed workshops given by Donna-Maria Landowski (percussion) and Matthew Forbes (cello) which focussed on “Mars” from The Planets suite by Gustav Holst, which was also one of the “Ten Pieces” of classical music promoted by the BBC that year.


All workshop participants and indeed children from all primary schools in Brighton & Hove were invited to the morning rehearsal on Sunday 22 March 2015 to hear The Planets played live. Over 120 children and their parents and teachers sat in the choir stalls close to the orchestra to experience its exciting sound. The children were able to apply for free tickets to the concert that followed, with discounted tickets for their parents, and several took up the offer.