Latest from the ARCO Project

Louise Lansdown ARCO

Six years ago, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire established a partnership with a music centre in Soweto to launch the ARCO Project, providing online music lessons to students in South Africa.


Head of Strings Louise Lansdown Louise reflected on the importance of the scheme in a recent article in The Strad, covering the reasons behind the project, its importance and how it has developed.

The Project was created to support string training at the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music (MICM) in Soweto, South Africa, while simultaneously giving valuable first-hand teaching experience to RBC string students.

Louise said: “RBC and BCU are very proud of the ARCO Project and the life-transforming opportunities it has initiated for all those involved, both in South Africa and the UK, and more recently in India. RBC students and staff in the strings, brass, woodwind and vocal departments currently deliver weekly online teaching to students in South Africa and India.

“This fantastic five-page feature in the STRAD Magazine is to be celebrated. Thank you to every dedicated and caring student and staff member who gives of their time to this precious project.”

Read the full article here.

Player Profile: Sifiso Mbatha

The Strad also recently ran a Player Profile article on cellist Sifiso Mbatha, a student participant in the ARCO Project, who has since gained scholarships in the UK to continue his music training.

Sifiso, who is 18 years old, started cello lessons at MICM in late 2015, and then became involved in ARCO’s long distance teaching scheme.

In the middle of the pandemic in 2020, Sifiso was awarded a 70% fee scholarship from the Purcell School in Hertfordshire. ARCO and the Quartet of Peace (QoP) launched a major fundraising campaign to raise the remaining funds needed to secure Sifiso’s two-year sixth form education at the school.

From September 2022, Sifiso will study for a Bachelor of Music at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has received the ABRSM Overseas Scholarship, which includes full fees for the entirety of his Bachelor degree and a generous stipend towards his living costs.

Sifiso said: “‘My dream to be a musician would not have been realised if the ARCO Project had not been at the centre where I began my music lessons in Soweto. They have supported me every step of the way, opening doors to a new and incredible world of music-making.”

Read the full profile here.

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