Achieving musical and social harmony outside Paris

Posted on: July 19, 2010

In Monday’s (7/19) Independent (London), Cheryl Roussel reports, “around a hundred children of all races and colours are waiting for the conductor’s baton to fall. … Six months ago none of these children had played a musical instrument. Now, they are a handful of rehearsals away from performing in the prestigious Pleyel Hall in central Paris, sharing the month’s bill with the violin superstar Anne-Sophie Mutter and the London Symphony Orchestra. The concert is the culmination of the ‘Demos Orchestra’ project, an ambitious scheme which took 450 children aged seven to 12, living in disadvantaged areas of the Parisian suburbs, and taught them to play an instrument from scratch through four hours a week of group work. The project is about more than teaching music. It is also about rehabilitating the image of the banlieues, the stigmatised suburbs around Paris that the French associate with the violent youth riots of 2005, criminal gangs … The name ‘Demos’ was chosen for a reason. ‘We want to democratise culture,’ explains [Demos project manager] Olivier Flament. …The project will continue again in September for a second trial year, and the organisers are hoping most of the children will stay on.”

Posted on July 19, 2010