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Royal Liverpool Philharmonic awarded major grant by Jerwood Charitable Foundation for Pioneering ‘Elite Performance in Orchestral Musicians’ Programme

6 February 2018

The Award will support the artistic development and performance enhancement of Liverpool Philharmonic’s greatest asset, the 79 professional musicians in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Jerwood Charitable Foundation’s award enables Liverpool Philharmonic to expand its Musicians’ Performance and Wellbeing programme through provision of individual, tailored performance coaching available for the entire Orchestra over the next three years.  

Since 2015, with financial support from Help Musicians UK, Liverpool Philharmonic has introduced a Musicians’ Performance and Wellbeing programme relating to the technical, artistic, physical and psychological demands of consistently playing at the very highest level in a professional symphony orchestra, including early intervention and preventative measures such as physiotherapy, tour massage, injury prevention screening, a pilot performance psychology project, and investment in musicians’ training and development.

The programme draws on learning from established principles and practices in elite sport and performance science, where such support is considered a normal and critical part of optimising an athlete’s performance at the highest level. It is being evaluated by experienced academics specialising in the performing arts and performance science fields.

With Jerwood Charitable Foundation’s support, Liverpool Philharmonic will further develop its work into the psychology of performance. Performance coach, Mike Cunningham will help develop musicians’ mind-sets to consistently perform at their best, to grow as artists individually and collectively, and effectively manage pressure and challenges that can be part of the profession.  Mike works with top performers in orchestras, the wider performing arts, sport and business in the UK and internationally.

Liverpool Philharmonic is undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of the programme and will share practice across the orchestral sector and performance training institutions in the UK and internationally.

Thelma Handy, Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra said:

‘I would like to thank the Trustees of Jerwood Charitable Foundation for their generous support of this initiative.  An orchestra is a body of artists, artistic excellence is at the heart of what we do and this requires a high level of artistic, technical, physical and psychological skill and endurance to succeed at the highest level.  

‘This is a pioneering programme in our sector and will support our individual professional development, enhance our performances and drive improvements in the artistic excellence of the Orchestra and wellbeing of our musicians.’

Performance Coach Mike Cunningham said:

‘I have worked with individual musicians, though this programme will be the first time that I will have the opportunity to work over an extended period of time with an entire orchestra. A musician’s mind-set impacts on many areas of their professional life. My role in this programme is to show the participating musicians how to develop their own skills, abilities and strengths to be able to replicate their best performance to order and enjoy performing more fully.’


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