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UEA students and local schoolchildren work in harmony at orchestra performance

Primary school students from four schools across Norfolk experienced a musician’s-eye view of orchestral instruments at University of East Anglia (UEA), during a private musical performance from the University’s Student Symphony Orchestra this week (Wednesday 12 February).

The orchestra showcased its musical talent to 150 Year 5 and Year 6 children from Mile Cross Primary, Firside Junior (both Norwich), Dersingham Primary, and Northgate Primary (Great Yarmouth).

Nine talented members of the student orchestra played a variety of instruments, from the trombone to the harp. Student performers kicked off the hour-long concert with a short introduction to their instruments, followed by performances of well-known classical musical pieces written by Beethoven, Mozart, Bellini and David Steinquest.

At the end of the concert, the school pupils got close to the musical instruments they heard and had the opportunity to ask student musicians about them and whether they have any top tips for learning to play their instrument of choice.

The event was hosted by UEA’s Outreach team, who work to widen participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds in East Anglia. The team targets primary schools in neighbourhoods with low proportions of progression into higher education and also those with high numbers of pupils receiving pupil premium and free school meals in order to promote children attending university in the future.

Stuart Dunlop, Music Director at UEA, said: “This event is a fantastic opportunity for us to meet the future generation of musicians and for them to see where a love for music could take them. It would be wonderful if we could open some doors into a world of music and enable our visitors to explore a bit further – perhaps even to play an instrument themselves.”

Laura Davey, second year Ecology student at UEA and viola performer in the orchestra, said: “I really enjoy the School Concert because I remember a string quartet coming into my primary school for an assembly, and it was that which sparked my interest to play the viola, which is now a really important part of my life. It’s nice to think that we might have a similar impact on some of the schoolchildren, and it’s always really nice to see how enthusiastic they are!”

Pupils also caught a glimpse of student life as they toured the campus, checking out some of UEA’s landmarks including the Library, the Ziggurats and the newly-built New Science Building.

The outreach team also held a workshop, teaching pupils about day-to-day life at university and the benefits of higher education. Pupils asked Student Ambassadors key questions and filled in their own ‘Future Stars’ booklet to take away from the day.