About the Music Promise

The Music Promise is a year-long programme of inspirational learning and performance experiences for children and young people in Derry~Londonderry, UK City of Culture 2013.  

Activities range from beat boxing to bel canto, scratching to string quartet, heavy metal to light classical, not to mention folk, traditional, pop and jazz. We have invested more than £1m in activities, grants and bursary schemes so that we can supercharge musical learning and performance opportunities for all young people in the city.

Aim of the Music Promise

The aim is to bring out the developing musician in every child, showcase a new generation of talent, and show the world how to create innovative music education programmes and events that will leave a legacy for years to come.

The children who can gain most from the benefits of high quality musical teaching and learning are taking centre stage.

Musical Pathways to Learning

Seven thousand young children are taking part in our Musical Pathways to Learning (MPL) programme. Using songs, games and rhymes, it’s introducing them to a world of music whilst boosting their confidence, language and literacy skills too.

We are working with the city’s two special schools and the West End and Broadway composer Conor Mitchell to create a landmark musical theatre production of Lenanshee – A Modern Fairytale. Exploring themes of difference and exclusion, this groundbreaking community production will premier at the Venue 2013 in November. The story for the show has been written by Starlight Express lyricist Richard Stilgoe, and gifted to Foyle View School.


Our SYNC initiative, run by the Nerve Centre, is bringing Music Promise activities to youth and community spaces, working with young people who might not otherwise get a chance to develop their musical skills. This neighbourhood-based scheme is using workshops, performances and sessions to spark creativity and a love of learning through music.

We’ve also given grants to all schools and more than thirty community groups, allowing young people, teachers and music specialists the freedom to identify and create musical experiences and opportunities that meet their specific goals.

Make a Promise

International artists are creating life-changing experiences for young musicians to learn through our Make A Promise campaign. Musicians and performers are donating their time and expertise to encourage and mentor the city’s up and coming talent.

One of the first to get involved was global dance sensation Hofesh Shechter. Twentytwo young local musicians joined his band for seven weeks to rehearse and then perform the spectacular premier of his specially choreographed piece, Political Mother: Derry-Londonderry Uncut.

Neil Cowley

Meanwhile, jazz pianist Neil Cowley (who is more used to international touring with his band the Neil Cowley Trio and recording with artists like Adele) is creating a brand new piece of music reflecting the Music Promise. This unique residency is a partnership between PRS for Music FoundationUK City of Culture 2013 and the Nerve Centre, Derry-Londonderry’s music hub and where the residency will be based.

The Music Promise on TV

The Music Promise has also inspired a selection of TV commissions for BBC One, which are being produced by the city’s very own Alley Cats independent production company, and will be on our screens in the autumn of 2013.