“We had such a great time at the concert we can’t wait to come again next year!” Class 2B (aged 6-7)
2019 will be the twenty-fifth anniversary of our very first Children’s Concert. Each year, the orchestra, Southern Pro Musica, under their conductor Jonathan Willcocks and with the compère magician Neil Henry, has amazed, entertained, enthralled, inspired and educated children across the South of England, providing them with what we hope will be the beginning of a lifetime of discovery and involvement in music.
The wide variety of styles, instruments and characterful pieces in the concerts conclude with a wonderful song, arranged by Jonathan, which the audience sing accompanied by the orchestra – quite an experience for the children and always very exciting. Sometimes there is the opportunity for children to conduct the orchestra, play some extra percussion and even dance the Can-Can on stage! A colourful narrator leads the children through a wonderful hour of music ensuring everyone has a highly memorable time.
“It was great fun singing ‘It’s An Ark’ and we were on your side of G Live and we were definitely the best side at singing! We liked hearing you sing along with us. We practised singing it at school and really enjoyed singing with an orchestra and you. We shouted ‘It’s An Ark’ as loud as we could at the end of the song.” Class 3R (aged 7-8)
Jonathan Willcocks gained his earliest musical experience singing as a chorister in King’s College Choir, Cambridge. He learned the ‘cello and piano, but while he was at school he was really much keener on playing sport than practising musical instruments! Since leaving university where he studied music and became very interested in composing and conducting, he has been Director of Music in two schools and, for twenty years, led the course at the Royal Academy of Music for very talented young musicians. Jonathan has written music of many kinds for choirs, orchestras and smaller groups of instruments, and even background music for television programmes. His conducting work has taken him all around the world to far-off places such as Australia, New Zealand, China, America and Canada, as well as nearer to home.
What we do
More than 5,000 school children from infant, primary, junior and special schools typically attend our concerts each year in the South of England. In 2019 some 63 schools have so far booked to attend (including 42 State schools), and also some home-schooled children, totalling more than 5,500 children. The concerts presently take place in January over three days in large public concert venues at Guildford, Southampton and Chichester. In past years we have also produced concerts in Dorking, Worthing, Petersfield, Portsmouth and Winchester. Concerts comprise a series of short classical orchestral pieces, a narrative piece, and a commissioned song for all the children to sing together with the orchestra. The children practise this song at school before the concert. The concerts are compèred by the magician Neil Henry. Each year children are also asked to contribute designs for the concert programme. Three winning designs are printed on each venue’s programmes. State schools are offered up to 75% of their coach hire costs.
We are a registered charity, and our operations are managed and run by a committee of nine persons, including the founder and Chairperson Elizabeth Gotto and the Conductor and Artistic Director of the Southern Pro Musica orchestra Jonathan Willcocks. The Committee meets three times each year. Three members of the Committee usually attend each concert to ensure all goes well. Responsibility for the children remains with their attending teachers or parents throughout the concert. Venue staff are also always on hand to assist teachers and children.
We have been happy to collaborate with Councils in the past to target particular schools areas, and would also welcome deeper links with public authority music services, particularly to help spread the word about the concerts each year.
Our funders in the past have included John Lewis, the Bedhampton Charitable Trust, the Sussex Community Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Colles Trust, Hampshire District Council, East Hampshire District Council, and Petersfield Town Council.
We would like to offer the experience of a classical music concert to more children in different regions and are currently seeking additional funders in order to do so. If you or your company would be interested in supporting our activities please contact Elizabeth Gotto at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our annual accounts are available on the Charity Commission website.