Borletti-Buitoni Trust
BBT Communities Music Changing Lives
City of London Sinfonia

City Of London Sinfonia - Community

Wellbeing Through Music

In 2019 the City of London Sinfonia was one of the first recipients of a BBT Communities grant, specifically for its Wellbeing Through Music programme, developed over 30 years to take music direct into the community.

In this film we hear about the players’ interaction with their special audiences at Comfortable Classical concerts, as well psychiatric patients at the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School and people in the care of St Christopher’s Hospice. In these settings, where the players’ key aim is to bring joy and respite to vulnerable people of all ages, one of the most important skills is communication and finding ways of playing music to get their attention and emotional response.

Principal clarinet, Katherine ‘Waffy’ Spencer, one of the orchestra’s longest serving members, explains how honing these particular skills ultimately enriches their own performances as orchestral musicians in the concert hall.

During the course of the Covid-19 lockdown the valuable work of CLS was unfortunately put on hold but the familiar faces of CLS Wellbeing Programme musicians can be seen each week online, via Facebook, at Comfortable Classical at Home.

City of London Sinfonia (CLS) has been bringing music engagement into various healthcare settings for more than 30 years via its Wellbeing Through Music programme and continues to respond to a growing crisis in mental health.  Vulnerable and isolated people of all ages benefit from interactive exploration of music in hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, hospices and care homes, resulting in improved relationships, confidence, self-esteem and self expression, as well as greater responsiveness to clinical treatment.

With the support of its BBT Communities grant CLS will develop its Comfortable Classical series of relaxed performances where audiences, including those with autism, dementia and sensory impairments, can come and go as they wish and also engage in other relaxation activities during the concerts.

On 18 November 2020 the City of London Sinfonia won the RPS Impact Award for the project Sound Young Minds, which originated in partnership with Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School and one of the initiatives supported by the orchestra’s 2019 BBT Communities grant


I’m immensely grateful to the musicians for spending time with these young people.

Feedback from a mother of a patient involved in CLS’ Sound Young Minds

I think [Comfortable Classical @Home] will have a huge effect on the orchestra. I think it has given us confidence, while helping the rest of us to recognise many talents within the orchestra that aren’t always entirely visible in the ‘ordinary’ concert-giving context. The ‘normal’ Comfortable Classical Concerts are a perfect environment for much of this talent to have the opportunity to develop and I think those will become even more imaginative as a result of all we have learnt through the @Home series. That in turn will, without doubt, feed into everything else that the orchestra does.

Ursula Leveaux bassoon

Read the BBT Blog about CLS Adapting to Lockdown: Comfortable Classical online

The support of BBT was vital to CLS at a time when our work in communities was increasingly becoming the driving force behind our whole creative outlook. Having such a prestigious supporter of music who valued this work in the same way as we do, and wanted to work with us in partnership, has enabled us to expand our community scope, even during a difficult time for all musicians and the communities they work in.