A PROJECT that introduces young listeners to the exciting world of contemporary music has come to schools in the Borders.

Masterworks, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s flagship programme, worked with school pupils from Selkirk, Berwickshire, Earlston and Peebles High schools to develop composition skills and create original works with them.

The programme gave the students a chance to hear and work with a live orchestra.

The project culminated in a concert performance of the chosen Masterwork for this year’s project, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, to an audience of over 200 pupils – including students from Galashiels Academy and Hawick High School at Earlston High.

The performance included an introduction and guided visual presentation by composer and animateur Rachel Leach which examined musical concepts within the piece.

Rachel Leach is one of the UK’s leading composers and animateurs. For 15 years she has been a central part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s education team devising and delivering creative music projects to a huge range of people across London, the UK and the world.

Rachel also regularly collaborates with Tim Yealland and English Touring Opera. Together they have written eight children’s community operas and were awarded the R.P.S. Award in 2009 for best education project.

SCO Connect’s Director, Kirsteen Davidson-Kelly, said: “SCO musicians have had a fantastic time working with the students in the Borders.

“The students’ creative responses to this year’s Masterwork were original, fresh and inspiring, and we were thrilled to work with expert presenter Rachel Leach to bring Brahms’ music to life.

“SCO Connect is delighted to have been able to work closely with the Arts Development team at Scottish Borders Council to bring this project back to the Borders.”

This project is run by SCO’s creative learning department, SCO Connect, and has been supported by Scottish Borders Council (SBC) Youth Music Initiative which is funded by Creative Scotland and managed by the Arts Development team at SBC.

SBC’s Executive Member for Culture, Sport, Youth and Communities, Councillor Vicky Davidson, added: “I am delighted that Masterworks has finally come to the Borders and have heard great reports from schools about how much enjoyment the pupils have been able to get out of the project.

“Hopefully the experience will encourage pupils to learn more about composing and to take their music to another level.”