The Orchestra: Southbank Sinfonia

An invaluable creative partnership

Since 2004, British Youth Opera’s partnership with Southbank Sinfonia has ensured that our productions offer training in every role. The remarkable similarity in the two charities’ aims mean that we are perfectly suited to work together in nurturing and launching the next generation of musical talent.

Each year, Southbank Sinfonia welcomes 33 of the world’s most promising graduate musicians and, just as British Youth Opera does with its singers and trainees, offers them a much-needed springboard into the profession. As Southbank Sinfonia say themselves, ‘More than just an orchestra, this is a community where young talents can find their own creative strengths, fulfil personal goals, make lasting contacts, and take their musicianship to new frontiers.’

Southbank Sinfonia play for all of our London productions and have, due to their size and capabilities, allowed us to offer really challenging repertoire to our singers and assistant conductors – something we were able to take full advantage of from our very first year of partnership, with Janácěk’s The Cunning Little Vixen.

The partnership has in the past also allowed us to offer some singers their first opportunity to perform abroad, at Anghiari Festival in Italy, and in the Dordogne: a valuable and, they tell us, unforgettable part of their early professional experience.

With all the aspects of a full professional production process: two stage-and-orchestra rehearsals, a dress rehearsal, and then our performances at the Peacock Theatre to learn from, British Youth Opera’s work with Southbank Sinfonia sets our singers and assistant conductors up with all the first-hand experience they could need to repeat that process with confidence in the early stages of their professional careers. 

Britain enjoys an enviable reputation worldwide for the enduring quality of its opera. To safeguard this, it’s vital we create empowering operatic projects for each generation of emerging artists, ensuring they uphold this noble tradition for years to come. In this, Southbank Sinfonia – Britain’s acclaimed orchestra for graduates – partners with British Youth Opera annually, putting our musicians at the heart of fully-staged productions in a central London theatre, giving them a vital taste of how the profession mounts such shows. For singers and instrumentalists alike, this frequently lights a fuse that propels them to rewarding careers with the world’s great opera companies.

James Murphy – Managing Director, Southbank Sinfonia

BYO taught me masses about stage craft and how to navigate singing with a large orchestra. It is the most vital institution for young singers carving their paths at a crucial stage of their careers. It has certainly informed mine!

Natalya Romaniw – Soprano and alumna