Always Playing: London Symphony Orchestra and Yamaha Keep Classical Music Live

Kathryn McDowell, LSO Managing Director

Audience and community engagement, music education and global co-operation have always been at the heart of the London Symphony Orchestra’s activities. Working with long-term partner Yamaha, the orchestra has accelerated its digital outreach programme in recent months, helping its musicians to perform together again and for worldwide audiences to enjoy the unique experience of live classical performance.

Familiar to millions through its music for films, including the Star Wars and Harry Potter series, as well as classical music fans, as lockdown took hold the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) was reaching out to new and existing audiences through online archived performances. Working with Yamaha, a commitment to taking its live performances to a global audience is now bringing musicians and music fans closer together in these challenging times.

A number of the LSO players are official Yamaha Artists, with the company’s flagship CFX Concert Grand Piano also installed at LSO St. Luke’s, the orchestra’s rehearsal and performance space in Islington, London. And with 30 years as the world’s leading producer of digital mixers, Yamaha is helping to mix and broadcast the live lunchtime recitals of LSO’s Always Playing summer programme online, thanks to a state-of-the-art RIVAGE PM10 digital mixing system installed at LSO St Luke’s.

LSO St Luke's

“At Yamaha we connect technology, art and audiences at the highest level,” says Alex Warren of Yamaha Music Europe. “In partnership with the LSO, we are working towards bringing live music to as wide an audience as possible, at a time when the entire entertainment industry is facing unprecedented challenges.

“We are very pleased to contribute to the orchestra’s exciting outreach initiative, helping musicians, music fans and communities alike to be inspired, uplifted and connected through music.”

During lockdown, the LSO’s online archive performances were enhanced by orchestra members playing and speaking from their homes, but the socially-distanced Always Playing programme from LSO St Luke’s has allowed the musicians to come together and perform once again, bringing the full dynamic experience of a live classical show to online audiences - whether it’s an intimate ensemble, an educational masterclass or the full orchestra.

“Streaming the archive concerts is a great way to engage with audiences, but I am really excited to be making music with other people again,” says Maxine Kwok, the LSO’s first violinist. “Although the audience is online, knowing people are watching through the live feed is so special.”

Maxine Kwok, LSO First Violinist

Together, the LSO and Yamaha will continue pushing the boundaries, improving the live experiences that the orchestra can offer, developing new and exciting technologies for how people can both create and experience music.

“LSO St Luke’s has been open for 17 years and we needed to upgrade. Having this fantastic equipment from Yamaha sets us up for the next phase,” says Kathryn McDowell, the orchestra’s managing director. “There’s immense scope for what we can do and working with Yamaha enables us to take our digital projects forward, in a way we previously couldn't have dreamed of, in a remarkably short space of time.”

The orchestra’s next Always Playing Summer Shorts performance takes place on Friday 14 August at 1pm, featuring a string and piano trio playing pieces by Rachmaninoff, Judith Lang Zaimont and Hannah Kendall. This is followed by a performance by the LSO Percussion Ensemble and pianist Gwilym Simcock on Friday 21 August, led by the orchestra’s Principal of Percussion and Yamaha Artist Neil Percy. All of the free Always Playing performances can be watched on the LSO’s YouTube channel.

Please also refer to the interview video on our partnership

London, the United Kingdom

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