Our musical gift to Bedford

Orchestra Unwrapped

700 children from 15 Bedford Borough state schools were wowed by the Philharmonia Orchestra during a concert at Bedford Corn Exchange on Tuesday 30th January.  Orchestra Unwrapped is the Philharmonia Orchestra’s unique concert series for schoolchildren aged 7-11, and was brought to Bedford for the first time in 2016 thanks to the help and support of The Harpur Trust.

The concert featured the Philharmonia’s full symphony orchestra, introduced by composer and presenter Paul Rissmann, who guided the children on a fun and interactive journey through the Orchestra’s instruments, players and music (featuring everything from Strauss to The Simpsons theme tune). A giant screen also displayed art work produced by the children ahead of the concert, as well as visuals to help bring the music alive.

The concert series is open to SEN and faith schools and to home-educated children and has reached over 23,400 children since first founded in Leicester five years ago.  As part of the project, the Philharmonia also produces bespoke cross-curricular educational materials for the classroom, delivers teacher training workshops and online learning guides.

Despite being only in its second year in Bedford, the project is already oversubscribed, with a waiting list of schools wanting to take part. 

David Russell, the Chief Executive of The Harpur Trust said, “A number of Trustees attended the concert back in 2016 which we had funded as part of our 450th anniversary celebrations.  They were so moved by the reaction of the children, and impressed by the subsequent feedback from schools, that they decided to continue to fund the project for the foreseeable future.”  He added, “There is no doubt that this project has a huge impact on the children, and greatly enhances the music provision within local schools through the workshops provided as part of the programme.”