01.14.09 Sting donates bass guitar to campaign to increase music education...


Sting is to donate a guitar to the Mayor's musical instrument amnesty. The Grammy award-winning musician's bass will go to a young Londoner in a drive to increase music education and give every child in the capital the chance to learn to play an instrument.

Sting said: 'The music amnesty is a really important initiative and I'm delighted to support it. Young people deserve the chance to learn a musical instrument, whatever background they come from. Well done to everyone who is helping the campaign.'

More than 150 instruments have been donated already to the amnesty, known as 'No Strings Attached', which was launched by Mayor Boris Johnson in conjunction with Time Out and is backed by London Councils. They include unclaimed ones that have come from the Transport for London Lost Property Office - amongst them a didgeridoo. The instruments will go to schools and young people in Lambeth through the 'In Harmony' music education scheme chaired by Julian Lloyd Webber, who has also donated a cello.

The announcement of Sting's donation coincides with a major summit being held at City Hall today to take forward the Mayor's plans to increase musical education. Other supporters include internationally renowned conductor Sir Simon Rattle and Madness singer Graham 'Suggs' McPherson.

Boris Johnson said: 'It's brilliant that the likes of Sting, Julian Lloyd Webber, Suggs and Simon Rattle are backing this campaign. I'd like every kid in the capital to play an instrument and the prospect of learning on one owned by a superstar like Sting must be absolutely thrilling.'

Julian Lloyd Webber said: 'The Mayor's initiative endorses what I have always believed - that music should be available to every child, not just to the privileged few whose parents can afford to buy instruments and pay for music lessons. This unique collaboration between 'No Strings Attached' and 'In Harmony' is proof of the power of music to bring people together. Music can transform children's lives and the In Harmony project is hugely grateful for the Mayor's support.'

Attendees at the summit include musicians, orchestras and other music organisations; venues and promoters; music colleges and other education providers; local and borough music services; and policy makers and funding bodies.

Young practitioners are giving live performances throughout the day, including a choir from the Royal Academy of Music; an 18-strong saxophone ensemble from the Centre for Young Musicians; a jazz trio from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama; and several vocal and music ensembles from Bigga Fish/Urban Development, who work with talented young vocalists, DJs and producers.

The music education summit culminates with Boris Johnson, Julian Lloyd Webber and Time Out Editor Gordon Thomson formally handing over donated instruments to young people from Lambeth, the borough set to benefit from the amnesty through the 'In Harmony' scheme.

Suggs said: 'No Strings Attached is a very exciting campaign. Music is a great way for kids to socialise and interact. It will give them focus and most importantly allow them to have good fun.'

Simon Rattle added: 'Enabling young people to take up a musical instrument is something in which I passionately believe. It is wonderful to know there is commitment to increase musical opportunities in the capital.'

The summit finale has special live performances by Julian Lloyd Webber, a 42 string orchestra bringing together seven schools working with Lambeth Music Service, and the Mama Cat and the Jazz Kittens, an 18 strong saxophone ensemble from the Centre for Young Musicians. The climax will be a spontaneous jam involving the musicians, the young people from Lambeth, plus Julian Lloyd Webber.

Chairman of London Councils, Councillor Merrick Cockell said: 'The No Strings Attached amnesty and summit have hit the right note with the London boroughs who are instrumental in organising music classes and a range of other initiatives to help children develop their musical skills. London Councils is keen to work with the Mayor, boroughs and others to encourage more young people to learn to play music, a skill they can use and enjoy throughout their lives.'

Other organisations represented at the summit include: Arts Council England; Barbican; BBC; BPI; City Showcase; Classic FM; DCSF; DCMS; London Philharmonic Orchestra; London Symphony Orchestra; Lyric Hammersmith; Music Manifesto; National Campaign for the Arts; PPL; Royal College of Music; Royal Opera House; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Southbank Centre; Trinity College; Youth Music; plus London boroughs and many others.

Lambeth schools taking part include: Paxton Primary School; St Luke's C of E Primary School; Richard Atkins Primary School; Corpus Christi RC Primary School; Loughborough Primary School; Bonneville Primary School; Wyvil Primary School.

Sting was in Los Angeles on January 11 to attend the Golden Globe awards where he presented the award for "Best Original Song - Motion Picture", to his old friend Bruce Springsteen for the song 'The Wrestler' from the film of the same name.
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