Part of the BSO’s Participate team, the BSO Associate musicians communicate, inspire, educate and motivate people and communities through music. These professional freelance musicians and music-leaders also collaborate with their fellow BSO Associates across the South West on a variety of projects.

For Bristol-based BSO Associate, Dr Jon James, this can range from leading the Bristol Recovery Orchestra in partnership with the Bristol Drugs Project to working alongside BSO musicians in a series of seminars unpacking chamber works… he’s even found himself using marimbas to explain common denominators and factors to a GCSE Maths class!

Dr Jon James and the Bristol Recovery Orchestra

Talking about the role, Jon said “I think as Associates we need to be Jacks-of-all-trades. The main areas of experience I draw on are conducting and a knowledge of the orchestral repertoire, presenting, teaching performance skills, playing jazz and world styles, and research into collaborative creativity.”

Meanwhile, BSO Associate, Matt Harrison, based in Cornwall, works on projects such as presenting the South West SEND Schools’ Tour and Family BSO On Your Doorstep concerts, playing and supporting on the Recovery and Family Orchestras from Bristol to the Isles of Scilly and leading schools workshops.

Matt Harrison and the Bristol Recovery Orchestra

Matt says: “I love the variety of opportunities that the BSO Participate programme provides, and the ability to bounce ideas off the other Associates, who all have such varied experience and accomplished musical backgrounds”.

As well as carrying out their own practise in the community, the BSO Associates also take an active role in mentoring the next generation of community musicians as part of our Young Associates programme, which aims to give aspiring young community music leaders a career springboard through practical experience, training and mentoring.

Brian Hillstead, Partnerships Manager, Allianz Musical Insurance said:  ‘Allianz Musical Insurance have been proud partners of the BSO for many years and continue to be amazed at the varied and unique ways in which the BSO supports musicians and the development of music in the community. The ability to inclusively share musical knowledge, experiences and skills is vital to the future of music in the UK and we understand the important role that freelance musicians and the BSO Associate Musicians programme plays in that.’

Hear more from Jon and Matt in the video below and click here to find out more about our BSO Associate Musicians