Sistema (4)

No holding Bach

A teenager with his sights set on a career in classical music says a ground-breaking community project has been instrumental in helping him win a place at one of the world's leading performing arts schools.


29 April 2024

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Seventeen-year-old Aiden Macdonald from Govanhill is part of the Big Noise music programme and has been awarded a scholarship at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow, whose honorary president is renowned violinist Nicola Benedetti.

Big Noise is delivered by Sistema Scotland, a charity also supported by Benedetti, and uses the power of music to help children in Scotland's most disadvantaged areas build their confidence, resilience, attainment and ambition.

The scholarship is a dream come true for Aiden, who joined Big Noise Govanhill at the tender age of seven where he learned to play the viola.

Aiden said: "Big Noise opened a whole new world and it changed my life. I have achieved more than I ever could have imagined.

"I started when I was in Primary 2. They came into my school and showed us the instruments. I had never seen anything like it. I got to pick one to play and from then on it changed everything for me. Big Noise made me more confident. I was encouraged to perform and try new things. Having something outside of school was great. It was a different world. It was like a second family for me."

Aiden's proud mum Julie, who works as a carer, said: "Big Noise has opened so many opportunities for Aiden over the years. I'm so proud of everything he has achieved musically. The staff have been amazing and I can't thank them enough for the support and guidance they have provided to Aiden and myself on his musical journey throughout the years."

Players of People's Postcode Lottery have been supporting the charity for the last ten years and to date have raised £4 Million to help programmes in six targeted communities: Raploch and Fallin in Stirling, Govanhill in Glasgow, Torry in Aberdeen, Douglas in Dundee, and Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.

Aiden is currently studying at the Music School at Douglas Academy in Milngavie - a centre for young musicians of exceptional ability to continue their general education while receiving specialist instrumental tuition and extra time for musical studies.

A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, Aiden has also performed in the Scottish Parliament through Big Noise and on national television.

Vicky Williams, chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said: "We are so proud of Aiden and all he has achieved. We are always thrilled to see our participants grow up with us and go on to do the things they dream of when they leave school. While some participants like Aiden choose to pursue their musical talents, many others have found bright futures in a range of different areas in work, study or training.

"The important thing is that Big Noise teaches young people the vital life skills they will need as they move on to adulthood and we know that whatever the children on our programmes go on to do they will carry confidence, resilience and a sense of support and care with them for the rest of their lives.

"We are very grateful to players of People's Postcode Lottery for supporting our work for the past ten years, which has helped us ensure children and young people reach their full potential, no matter their background or financial circumstances."