Young Glasgow musicians perform in Barcelona with renowned conductor

TWO young Glasgow musicians travelled to Barcelona to perform in a ‘mind-blowing’ concert led by one of the world’s most distinguished conductors.

Aarush Bakshi and Hannah Doherty, who both take part in the Big Noise music and social change project in Govanhill, spent three days in the Spanish city, culminating in a performance with renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at the famous Palau de la musica Catalana.

They were part of a group of six Scottish musicians from Big Noise projects throughout Scotland who took part, playing and rehearsing alongside more than 200 performers from across the world.

They performed Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, an arrangement of ‘Ode to Joy’ ‘Sonata Piano e Forte’ by G Gabrielli and ‘Deferent’ by Adria Aguilera.

They also went to a rehearsal of Fidelio with the LA Phil and Dudamel in the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

The Chords of Harmony project brought together 210 young performers from across the world who are all involved in social music projects like Big Noise, as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2024 international tour.

The young musicians took part in musical projects and rehearsals, as well as activities and events designed to foster leadership skills and experience different cultures, working alongside young musicians from the United States, Venezuela, Spain, Sweden, Greece, Switzerland, Portugal and France.

Big Noise programmes are delivered by the charity Sistema Scotland and work with more than 3,500 young people across Scotland in the communities of Raploch and Fallin in Stirling, Govanhill in Glasgow, Torry in Aberdeen, Douglas in Dundee, and Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.

Big Noise is a high-quality music education and social change programme, where the symphony orchestra becomes a community which supports children and young people to gain vital life skills such as confidence, resilience, creativity and aspiration.

Through music and nurturing relationships from infancy to adulthood, it supports participants’ well-being and helps them reach their full potential.

The programmes also aim to strengthen the communities where they are based, developing relationships with participants and their families based on mutual respect, trust, and a commitment to work together and tackle inequalities for the long term.

The work of Big Noise Raploch and Big Noise Govanhill is delivered in partnership with local councils and is additionally supported by a wide range of public and private funders, including the Scottish Government and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The young people were accompanied by musicians from Big Noise, as well as Sistema Scotland’s Director of Music, David Munn.

Aarush Bakshi, who is 17 and a pupil at Shawlands Academy, said:

“It was amazing meeting all the other musicians in the orchestra. Everyone was so into music, you couldn’t help but feel like that too.

“Dudamel seemed to look at each of us in the orchestra and make us all feel welcome. Everyone played as if they were sitting at the front desk because of his invitation to play together. He mainly spoke in Spanish but could convey so much through his hand gestures. When he spoke in English he was direct, he had such a big impact on everyone.

“We performed in a beautiful hall with sculptures along the side. The concert was really packed but informal. Dudamel would get us to play a passage then look at the audience and they’d applaud. It was really cool.

“Seeing others around me playing was so good, they were so good. I loved playing with people from everywhere, people doing the same thing no matter where they were from.”

Hannah Doherty, who is 17 and a pupil at Holyrood Secondary School said:

‘This was a hugely exciting opportunity. It was amazing to meet so many new people from around the world and to experience the buzzing city of Barcelona. As well as improving my teamwork and communication skills through working with unfamiliar colleagues – we had to sit with someone we had not known previously – I was encouraged to raise the level of my playing by the high standard of musicianship. Everyone was welcoming and friendly and I learned from the way communication in rehearsals was so clear and direct. Though this was often in Spanish, the expression came across strongly, with the aid of a lot of hand movement! Gustavo (Dudamel) was very inspiring to work with and I feel the whole experience has helped me to grow as a person and as a musician.”

Kate McPhail, acting head of centre at Big Noise Govanhill, said:

“Our young people had an utterly mind-blowing experience in Spain. Big Noise is all about improving lives and strengthening communities and having the chance to perform with such an incredible conductor, and alongside people from across the globe, was a special moment for our young people.

“The opportunity to travel internationally, representing their communities, is a major milestone for the young people and shows how hard they have worked and the talent they have. We couldn’t be prouder or more pleased for them.”

Gustavo Dudamel, Music & Artistic Director of LA Phil and creator of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, said:

“Our mission has always been to demonstrate how music can create positive change in the world. Nowhere is this more evident than with music education programs and expanded opportunities for young musicians. This experience gives these students the opportunity to see how music transcends borders while sharing and connecting with their young peers from across Europe.”