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Durham Freemason founds Edinburgh’s first Symphony Orchestra

The Junior Deacon of Hebburn Lodge No 7201, Bro Luis Schmidt, has founded the first professional symphony orchestra to be based in Edinburgh at the age of just 19 years.

A student at Newcastle University, it is Luis’ mission to make orchestral music more accessible and to showcase its variety and beauty to diverse audiences in unique concert settings.

Making music more accessible

At just 19, Luis will be the youngest Director of Music of any professional symphony orchestra. Starting with a trumpet, he then began conducting at 15, going on to establish his own brass ensemble in Munich. He soon expanded this to a wind band and then a chamber orchestra. Luis was fortunate to study conducting with renowned conductor and Haydn researcher Bruno Weil.

He has always been passionate about the value of music; highlighting its evolution over time. He added: “Music is a dynamic manifestation of our culture, and our culture cannot survive without it, but at the same time, music cannot survive without our cultural input. Freemasonry has also evolved over time; and we try to take both into account in our present day practices, our roots and our evolution. However, in orchestral concerts the ‘present day’ often gets rejected and that is something I want to change.”

With Capella Edina, Luis hopes to show people the beauty of music and sounds they may never have encountered before, all within a diverse and inclusive environment that welcomes people from all backgrounds.

In addition, the orchestra is an active contributor to the community by playing educational concerts discussing music within specially curated programmes for the benefit of young people and aspiring musicians, while securing the next generation of listeners.

It also supports young musicians and composers on their journey to become professional music-makers through regular commissions, workshops, and sit-in orchestral sessions, therefore allowing them to become familiar with a wide range of musics from different musical periods in a constructive and encouraging environment.

Supporting the charity

The orchestra is a charity registered in England and Wales and its Board of Trustees includes renowned musicians such as Christopher Bruerton (first baritone of The King’s Singers) and Robert Ames (co-principal conductor and co-principal artistic director of the London Contemporary Orchestra).

But to be able to perform the first concerts in general, and educational concerts in particular, the orchestra relies on donations for which it has set up a Just Giving page. If you want to help our brother realise his dream of making music more accessible, please consider supporting his charity.

More information can be found on the orchestra’s website.

Picture shows: Luis Schmidt conducting a concert in Munich. (© Dominik Wickstead)

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