Primary school children from Larkman and Mile Cross showcased their musical talents with their first concert.

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Their joint school project encourages hundreds of children from Larkman and Catton Grove Primary Schools to play an instrument by providing free lessons and instruments.

The project, Sistema in Norwich, was on the brink of closure earlier this year when the Department of Education failed to renew its funding, but it was later saved when the two primary schools were given £35,000 to continue the cause.

Last night more than 30 children from the schools’ joint orchestra, the Martineau Children’s Orchestra, descended on St Lawrence’s Church on St Benedict’s Street to play their violins, cellos and violas.

Director of Norwich and Norfolk Community Arts Marcus Patterson, whose organisation delivers the musical project, said the reaction to the project so far has been strong.

He said: “The orchestra is about being part of a whole, and is about aspiration. We try to get the children to aspire to be something more and to work together.”

The group were also celebrating the birthday of Sarah Glover, the inventor of the now world-famous Sol Fa system which has taught people about music and singing around the world.

The children’s orchestra played favourite tunes including Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and Prokofiev’s Montagues and Capulets.

About 800 children at the two primary schools are involved with Sistema in Norwich, formerly called In Harmony, and have open access to the project, which provides an after-school club every night for rehearsals for different instruments.

The inspiration for the scheme came from the educational music programme, El Sistema, founded in Venezuela 35 years ago to help street children rise out of poverty whilst developing their musical talents.

Dawn Rees is the project’s first business sponsor who is supporting the group both financially as well as in a consultancy role.

She said: “What I see in Sistema is a very practical way of making the children feel included, and like they’re good at something, and like they are able to achieve.”

Tim Lawes, headteacher of Catton Grove Primary School said the school is very proud of the children’s achievements, but he stressed the need for more sponsors to come on board.

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