About the project

Arco is an innovative alliance, established in 2015 between Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and Morris Isaacson Centre for Music, an inspiring institution in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Arco provides regular distance-learning opportunities for talented children in South Africa, who for multiple reasons, do not have access to the same level of musical education as people in Europe. 

Weekly individual instrumental lessons, mentoring and string quartet coaching are delivered by a group of current students and recent graduates from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire via video conferencing system, ZOOM. Regular events occurring within Royal Birmingham Conservatoires String Department, such as masterclasses, workshops and performances are streamed live to South Africa for the benefit of the MICM students. Throughout the year, Arco teachers from the UK travel to South Africa for the annual festival - an immersive musical experience, building on and solidifying skills learnt throughout the year.

Arco Festival

The Arco Festival is an immersive musical experience in South Africa, building on and solidifying skills learnt throughout the year. The festivals of 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been enormously successful and truly life changing experiences for all involved. Plans for future festivals are constantly underway.

Arco Exchange

2017 saw the launch of Arco Exchange, with selected Arco students being hosted in the UK. For specic projects and festivals. So far, partnerships have been established with the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition and Festival, Chetham’s School of Music and Pro Corda – the National School for Young Chamber Musicians. Three students from Soweto travelled to England in November 2017 and a further two visited in 2018, with more exchanges in development for 2019. We have also hosted Arco teachers from South Africa to attend courses in the U.K.

In 2017 Arco piloted a teacher training scheme, welcoming Jan Repko to Soweto to work with Arco teachers. Enormously successful, we will be continuing the scheme with both Jan and celebrated pedagogue Wiesje Miedama in 2018.

With thanks to Arco supporters:

In South Africa: Anglo Gold Ashanti, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Pretoria, Goethe-Institut South Africa, Rupert Foundation, The Quartet of Peace, and in the UK: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, Louise Lansdown, Lucy Nolan, Peggy Nolan, Rosie O’Callaghan, Duncan Fielden, Jan Smaczny, Kirstie Lovie, Oliver Wille, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Jiafeng Chen, Matthew Johnstone, Alistair Rutherford, Claudia Dehnke, Emily Dore, Jack Gillett, Lieva Starker, Eileen Smith, Elsabe Raath, Maria Parfitt, Toby Holden, Martha Evans, Griffith Wadkin, Ursula Miethe, Orlando Corea, Philip Aird, Harry Broom, Chethams School of Music - Stephen Threlfall, Nicholas Jones, Jan Repko.

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Make a contribution

All donations are gratefully received and help us to continue our work. For more information, please visit our JustGiving page or make a donation below.