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DSO outreach




Contact yca@dulwichsymphonyorchestra.org.uk

marks trust

Philip McKenna Young Composer Award

The Dulwich Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composer Award is for GCSE and A Level students to give them the opportunity of a live performance and a prize. The award is dedicated to the memory of Philip McKenna, who played with the orchestra for 24 years until his death in 2009.

We are reviewing the way we run the scheme and will publish more details here soon.

Contact yca@dulwichsymphonyorchestra.org.uk for more information.

Past winners

2012 Zoe Ibbeston.

2011 Peter Lam. Toys Alive MP3 download

2010 Maria Neil-Smith Jigsaw of Life Download the score

2009 Leo Geyer. The night watchman Download the score and MP3.






Contact yca@dulwichsymphonyorchestra.org.uk for more information.






Work with Elmgreen School

Letter from the head of Elmgreen School about the outreach programme.

The DSO's partnership with The Elmgreen School enjoyed an exciting development in Spring 2012 when our Music Outreach Project resumed in a new guise. A Link Ensemble, 'The TonES', led by Tom Hammond, was created for a group of twenty-five students from the school together with a varying pool of five DSO volunteers supporting them, creating a unique collaboration.

The Elmgreen School (TES) students involved in the project are of mixed ages and abilities. They were selected by their Head of Music for their enthusiasm for music as well as their involvement in musical activities at the school. Some do not play an instrument but sing and play percussion. Some have already taken instrumental exams and reached a high standard. Some can read music and others play well by ear and memory but cannot read music.

‘The TonES’ - a name the students chose - are supported by DSO volunteers in weekly sessions. As well as guidance on techniques for their instruments or voices, the experience of DSO players can help them in the general ensemble discipline. We have also incorporated a creative composition element when the TES students are split into four separate mixed age and ability groups each led by a DSO volunteer. The aim is to give them a platform to be creative and self-expressive with their own music; made collaboratively with their peers and helping them to explore their instrument and voices in an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. The intention to assist the students in notating and recording their music 'on paper' will continue as the project introduces ideas of music theory and written composition. The DSO volunteers help by notating the new music for the students and Tom Hammond collates and records these notations for the whole group.

A new addition to the Outreach project is an Open Rehearsal, where the students visit the orchestra during an evening's rehearsal at the school and sit amongst the DSO players to see how a Symphony Orchestra operates. This is a very positive experience for the students, many of whom had never seen a symphony orchestra perform live. We were also able to relate the DSO’s concert repertoire to each term's sessions to inspire and motivate the student's ideas for composition. In the Spring Term, 2012, we used the programme music idea taken from 'Pohjola's Daughter' by Jean Sibelius derived from an ancient Norse Myth so the students based their music on myths and legends taken from the Ancient Greek and Chinese Zodiac traditions.

In the Autumn Term, 2012, the students wrote music for three commissioned short films or 'Movements' based on the theme of Nature and the Natural World, hinted at in Jean Sibelius' Symphony No 3 and Ralph Vaughn William's Symphony No 5 which were played at the DSO’s concert. But instead of images of nature from around the world the films are set in nature on the students' doorstep – local parks, nature reserves and gardens of South-East London.

The TonES performed their new music at the DSO's concert on 17th November, 2012 to rapturous applause. It was the debut performance for The TonES and the first performance of three new pieces of music. The students performed professionally in front of an audience of the general public as well as family and friends. They also enjoyed watching the orchestra perform.

We are pleased to announce that in Summer 2012, the TonES Project received additional funding through a generous donation from the Michael Marks Charitable Trust which will match-fund the Philip McKenna fund and enable the project to become more long-term. In the future we can now benefit more students and supply the project with a greater variety of activities and expert collaborators. We hope to be able to carry on our partnership with the Elmgreen School for at least another two years and benefit some of the children, throughout their whole secondary school careers.


DSO outreach in London Harmony







Charity no. 1100857