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Project information

Professional development for graduate musicians

SbS brings together 33 outstanding graduates for an intensive annual programme designed to prepare them for all aspects of professional musical life. It is a community where promising young musicians can find their voice, learn new skills and make a blazing case for why classical music still matters

February 2016 - November 2016

Charity information: Southbank Sinfonia

Southbank Sinfonia logo
  • Need


    SbS was formed to provide a vital springboard into the profession for young musicians who are often unable to sustain themselves in the critical stage between graduating and secure employment. Leading orchestras are looking for musicians who have the stamina to cope with demanding schedules, are well versed in a huge range of repertoire and styles, have the energy and skills to inspire the next generation and bring an entrepreneurial, versatile and creative approach to music making.


    Over the course of the programme, they give over 80 performances, alongside world-class partner organisations like the Royal Opera House and National Theatre, as well as their own concerts from Baroque to Contemporary via staged opera. They work with hundreds of children and community members as an inspirational taskforce. Over 400 musicians have benefited from the programme, and can be found in all of the UK’s professional orchestras as well as initiating exciting musical ventures of their own.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To give graduate musicians the best possible launch into successful careers


    » Through partnerships with leading ensembles and artists, give players a first-hand understanding of what it takes to be a thriving musician today
    » Immerse players in a wide range of styles guided by industry professionals and guest artists, giving them the opportunity to make lasting contacts
    » Equip them with the skills needed for professional life with professional development sessions on topics such as finances, self-promotion and health

    What success will look like

    Success will be...continued acknowledgement and acclaim in the music profession for producing players with the experience and versatility required to be valued orchestra members.

    Aim 2

    To be an exciting orchestra in its own right, bringing fresh ideas to the profession


    » Our free Rush Hour Concerts welcome audiences to discover classical music away from the formalities of the concert hall
    » Innovative partnerships with organisations such as the National Theatre allow us to present music in new and innovative ways giving it fresh resonance

    What success will look like

    Increased profile as we approach our 15th anniversary year and a reputation for innovative and exciting programming within the wider classical music sector.

    Aim 3

    To play a uniquely valued role proving the power of music to young people and the community


    » Our musicians act as mentors for children from InHarmony Lambeth, a social programme that transforms the lives of young people through music making
    » Using music as a means to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation in the elderly community of Waterloo
    » Performing side-by-side with the young musicians of Cardinal Vaughan school, giving them a vivid sense of what dedication to music can achieve

    What success will look like

    Reach a wide variety of children and members of the local community, increasing access to classical music.

  • Impact


    Ensure classical music is populated with musicians who are confident, innovative and possess the wherewithal to drive the sector forward. Ensure that talented musicians are not lost to the profession because they cannot navigate the difficult period following graduation. As we approach our fifteenth birthday, we continue to see Southbank Sinfonia's increasingly global reach - from the Philharmonia to the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the alumni proudly acknowledge the positive impact of SbS.


    Southbank Sinfonia receives no public funding and must raise some £750,000 per annum in order to deliver its many performance and education projects, and provide a bursary to enable every player to participate regardless of their financial background. The orchestra has a strong track record of fundraising and financial management, with a well-organised and robust approach to fundraising from private donors, corporate sources, trusts and foundations.


    Southbank Sinfonia has systems in place for regular reporting to all donors and sees this as an important element of fundraising. Targets are set and feedback is collected from all elements and participants in the development programme and collated into reports both project-specific and general.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £922,448

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £253,506 Player bursaries £7,650 p.a. per player
      £240,652 Performance - orchestral music The annual programme of concerts and performances
      £216,068 Education and Training The orchestra's annual programme of training and education of its musicians and beneficiaries
      £130,509 Support Costs Including staff salaries and overheads
      £81,713 Fundraising Costs Costs of generating funds including fundraising staff and fundraising event costs

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Corporate support £75,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts and Foundations £100,000 Guaranteed
    Private donors £200,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The orchestra is based at St John's Waterloo, London and primarily performs in central London and works with young people and communities in Lambeth and Southwark. Alongside this, it also tours to locations across the UK as well as further afield. In 2016 this includes a performance in Notre-Dame de Paris and a residency at the Anghiari Festival, Tuscany.


    33 players per annum benefit from the annual development programme. In 2015 they performed works by 89 composers in 45 venues throughout the world; gave 84 performances (of which 37, 44%, were free to the public or children); worked with 29 conductors including Sir Antonio Pappano and John Wilson and worked with 1400 children and community members.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    For almost fifteen years SbS has run a professional development programme for gifted young graduates of music colleges and conservatoires. The value of the programme to the music profession is now widely acknowledged. Each year the programme has been refined and augmented and the orchestra has built up an enviable coterie of world-class artistic partnerships. The Southbank Sinfonia experience is unique in its richness, variety and professionalism and demand for places increases annually.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Simon Over

    Southbank Sinfonia's Music Director and co-founder of the orchestra.

    James Murphy

    The orchestra's Managing Director, who has a strong track record of enabling young people to thrive in music.

"If this year's Sinfonia intake maintain their impact in their adult careers, British orchestral playing is not going to be short of fire and muscle."

Geoff Brown, The Times