Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is the UK’s oldest surviving professional symphony orchestra in the UK. Liverpool Philharmonic also runs the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, where it promotes a wide range of other music performances.
Liverpool Philharmonic has set up the Leap into Live Music! Programme, which offers free and heavily subsidised tickets to new audiences who would not otherwise be able to attend. The newly created post of Leap into Live Music! Programme Manager leads on building relationships with local groups and organisations, encouraging individuals to try a performance at the Philharmonic Hall, and ensuring a warm personal welcome. To access tickets, everyone must register individually, and subsequent visits are now quite frequently organised on this basis rather than always through the original group.
The programme began in September 2013, and by spring 2015 Leap into Live Music! had 1,358 individuals registered for the scheme. Over 4,000 tickets had been allocated to Liverpool Philharmonic events, and 85% of these have been to performances by the Orchestra. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall was closed for major refurbishment for 6 months during 2014. Since reopening in November, over 1,500 tickets were requested during December 2014 alone.
The programme has been working in a number of ways. One strand has been to introduce the scheme to low-waged employees at major employers in Merseyside. In October 2014, members of the brass section visited the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital Trust to promote the scheme to employees within pay bands 1-3. The hospital identified areas where larger numbers of employees on lower pay scales are based, and so musicians played in the Medical Records Office, ISS clocking in/out area, Sterile Services, and staff canteen. The visit resulted in 162 new sign-ups to the scheme, and by February 2015 76 of these had already attended their first performance.
The Orchestra’s music-making programme for under-5s, Tuning In, has been running in Children’s Centres across Merseyside for 9 years. This made it possible to build on the organisations’ relationships with the Kensington Children’s Centre’s staff and parents involved to introduce the new scheme. Kensington is a neighbourhood with a very diverse population: around three quarters of families are from minority ethnic heritages and are learning to speak English as an additional language within the Centre’s ESOL programme. A fifth of minority ethnic families are of Chinese origin and a fifth of African origin. The Centre works with parents and children up to the age of five, and operates a nursery and crèche, and runs both parent/child and parent-only groups.
In winter 2013, the Liverpool Philharmonic used their Rudolph on Hope Street orchestral family concert to introduce the Leap into Live Music! Scheme, and invite families to attend. Centre staff took registrations and bookings in advance, and musicians visited a few days prior to chat about what they could expect, and answer queries and concerns. The cost of coach transport was covered, and logistics handled with staff at the Centre. Over 400 individuals attended, most for the first time. They were welcomed with red noses, and refreshments in line with the Centre’s healthy eating policy. An instrument petting zoo gave children the opportunity to have a go on different instruments.
Due to the Hall’s closure for much of 2014, the family offer was limited, but many at the Centre were keen to stay involved. Orchestra musicians visited again in October 2014, providing a party-like atmosphere for 140 children and their parents. As a result, the programme signed up a large number of new families and took bookings for the Christmas 2014 family concerts, including Disney’s Fantasia, with live accompaniment from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.