Mark Eager, Conductor and Artistic Director of the chamber orchestra The Welsh Sinfonia, is taking to the roads after Easter in an extraordinary challenge to raise funds for the orchestra’s new flagship project ‘Crescendo’ which launched on February 22nd .
Mark will leave St David’s Hall, Cardiff, on Monday April 21st, to run 156 miles over six days, the equivalent of 6 marathons, arriving at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Saturday April 26th.
The Crescendo Run is to raise funds, but also awareness of issues close to Eager’s – and The Welsh Sinfonia’s – hearts. “Music is a considerable force in developing young people’s minds, feeding them creatively and stimulating their interest in a range of subjects, positively and vibrantly,” says Eager. “Learning instruments is terrific and must be encouraged, but listening to and understanding great music is even more important as it can benefit everyone. It’s never too soon to get the brain turned on to classical music; young people are our future audiences and some of them even our future performers.”
The Crescendo project, which is supported and partially funded by the Arts Council of Wales, will see Welsh Sinfonia professionals working with pupils in up to five secondary schools a year all over Wales. A rolling, structured five year programme will cover all aspects of playing classical music in an orchestra, including a leadership and teamwork module relevant to life out of school, delivered by Neath-based youth motivation organisation, Call of the Wild.
“The objective is to build orchestras that the whole school community can be proud of,” says Eager. “We’ll be working with schools which may have no tradition of classical music, or a pool of players, range of ability or spread of instruments which would normally make an orchestra too big an ‘ask’, especially against a background of decreasing music budgets.”
The project was successfully piloted in 2013 at St John Baptist in Aberdare, whose fledgling orchestra has as a result opted to play an all-classical programme this year. New schools in 2014 are Bro Ddyffi in Machynlleth, Sandfields Comprehensive in Port Talbot, Christ College in Brecon, and Bryn Hyfryd in Ruthin where The Welsh Sinfonia will be working through the Williams Mathias Music Service to build a Denbigh County Youth Orchestra from scratch.
Crescendo is still short of partnership funding. Anyone moved to make a donation to this project in support of Mark Eager’s marathon effort can do so through www.justgiving.com/CrescendoRun . He is aiming to raise £5000 to support workshops and concerts in the Crescendo schools.