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The London Sinfonietta Academy is an unparalleled opportunity for emerging performers and conductors to train with the world’s leading contemporary music ensemble. It is an intensive week-long course of rehearsals, masterclasses and networking opportunities culminating in a public performance. This course provides experience and training in performing as part of a contemporary music ensemble, with coaching from the London Sinfonietta Principal Players.


We asked 2016 Academy participants, led by conductor Diego Masson, to tell us about their experience:

Kizzy Brooks – Percussionist

“The culmination of the London Sinfonietta Academy was an epic two and a half hour long concert, which saw Diego Masson nearly miss his Eurostar! The concert itself was brilliant, with all the hard work and concentration of the week being fully showcased and received by a packed audience hanging on every note.

With so much repertoire to explore the week absolutely flew by and I don’t think I have ever felt so challenged and exhilarated at the same. For me, it was brilliant to get to know all the other players, with our musical and personal relationships growing as a whole group.

This was really highlighted in our second rehearsal with Ben Oliver, where he said “Wow, this is sounding so much better, have you guys had a sectional on this? Or have you just spent a bit more time together?” It’s amazing what a few evenings in the pub can do for ensemble playing! Ben’s piece itself was fantastic, both to play and to listen to. I felt that it was a perfect commission for our ensemble, with the music conveying our youthful spirit but also showcasing every members’ technical ability and musicality.

It addition to our own rehearsals it was fantastic to watch the conductors’ masterclass on Tuesday, which was focused on Pierre Boulez’s Éclat. This class gave us the chance to watch the London Sinfonietta in action and also to observe Diego nurturing the talent of the young conductors.

The whole week was absolutely brilliant (and exhausting) and I would wholly recommend that anybody that is interested in the future of music should apply next year! I would like to say a huge thank you to the London Sinfonietta for such a fantastic opportunity and to Ed (Participation and Learning Manager) and Hal (Concert manager) for making the whole week run so smoothly!”

Liga Korne – Pianist

“It is Sunday and I am on my way home for a summer break, which means that the London Sinfonietta Academy 2016 has reached its conclusion. People often say this; but this week-long course really did fly by very, very quickly. So, if I were to describe this whole experience in a couple of words, the first that come to mind are – intense and inspiring.

During this project we worked on a highly complex and varied programme by composers whose names are in the very forefront of the contemporary music scene, testing players’ technical and musical abilities. I truly believe that as individuals we only keep developing by setting ourselves various challenges and this course certainly created the circumstances to do exactly that. Moreover, the London Sinfonietta Academy presented the invaluable opportunity to experience an encouraging environment, in which to receive thoughtful guidance. We were able to gain practical knowledge to help overcome numerous musical and technical, individual and collective challenges; creating a refined and exciting final performance.

Here is how this past week looks in numbers:

  • 26 rehearsals (sectionals + tutti)
  • 24 students
  • 15 principal players to coach us
  • 7 days
  • 6 pieces
  • 2 conductors
  • 2 conductors masterclasses
  • 1 concert

    + countless cups of coffee and tea to wake us up in time and keep us going!

But there is also so much that is impossible to put in numbers. I can’t measure the knowledge gained, friendships formed, fun had and the sense of accomplishment felt. While each of the seven days was quite different, all were exciting in their own way and I am absolutely certain that each of us left the course having learnt something new about ourselves and/or music-making. I feel very thankful and privileged for being part of this prestigious project this year!”

Mateuz Rettner – Pianist

“The London Sinfonietta Academy is an amazing programme. This year it took place from the Sunday 10 – Sunday 17 July. It was a very intense and stimulating course in which we prepared six works of a total duration of ca. 90 minutes for our final performance. Every piece contained challenges unique to the style of the particular composer. The diversity of the programme was immense and ranged from Anton Webern’s Variations op. 30 to a new piece entitled Beasts Bounding Through Time (a London Sinfonietta commission) by Benjamin Oliver which we had the pleasure and privilege of premiering. The great organisation of the whole programme and the inspiring professionalism and dedication of everyone involved (the staff as well as the participants) was the driving force of our work, which led to the Saturday performance.

What brought me the most joy and satisfaction was the great working environment. As participants, we received constant support and feedback from both the Principal Players specialising in our respective instruments and those who didn’t. This on top of Diego Masson’s marvellous conducting and rehearsing had great effects. I also had the honour of of joining some of the Principal Players for a performance of Pierre Boulez’s Eclat in the conducting masterclass. This was a truly unique experience, which gave me a greater glimpse into the work of a professional top-level ensemble than is normally possible while merely watching a rehearsal.

Overall my participation in the Academy has already positively influenced my approach to music in many ways and I am certain that I will benefit from it for years to come.”

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