top of page


Ipswich Star.jpg
Latitude logo.PNG




waterfront stage.jpg

Suffolk has a rich musical heritage – from Benjamin Britten to Ed Sheeran, the Aldeburgh Festival to the Latitude Festival.  The first chance that most Suffolk children get to actively participate in music ensembles is through their school and then by progressing to the county ensembles, including the flagship Suffolk Youth Orchestra.


Suffolk Music and Arts Alumni Trust (SMART) is a charity set up to bring together current and former members of Suffolk Youth Music and to raise funds to support young people to participate in music and other arts activities such as:

  • Suffolk Youth Music events and tours;

  • Membership of other nationally recognised music and other arts education organisations;

  • Music and other arts lessons;

  • Travel costs for interviews/auditions for further/higher education;

  • The costs associated with going to university;

  • Music and other arts related activities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (including mental health); and

  • Work with arts organisations to enable access to music and other arts.


SMART have assembled a full symphony orchestra comprised of over 70 current and former members of Suffolk Youth Orchestra and other County ensembles to play at this year’s Latitude Festival, on Sunday the 21st July on The Waterfront Stage. The orchestra will be performing an eclectic programme, showcasing some of the talent that has been nurtured and developed in Suffolk over many years.


The SMART Sinfonia have put together a programme of diverse repertoire which includes music from John Williams’ Harry Potter scores, Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ from Symphony No.9, and Copland’s Fanfare for a Common Man, plus some other surprises! 


SMART was formed by Ipswich headteacher, Wendy James, and former members of Suffolk Youth Music, following a valedictory concert in December 2017 to mark the retirement of Phillip Shaw OBE, who dedicated 31 years to the music education of the young people in Suffolk as Head of the County Music Service.

SMART is a relatively new charity and playing at Latitude will not only raise the visibility of the charity amongst the very people it aims to support – the young people of Suffolk and their families – but also reconnect musicians of Suffolk Youth Music old and new. For this performance, we have brought together alumni, including professional musicians, many aspiring to be so, those studying or teaching music at all levels and others that play for fun (alongside other careers). Many players are specifically making the trip back to Suffolk to perform from as far afield as Newcastle and London, as well as Finland and the US! 

Grace Harman, 16, from Kesgrave, is a Youth Trustee for SMART, and will also be playing trumpet in the SMART Sinfonia at Latitude. She says “I got the opportunity to become a Trustee through my membership of the Suffolk Youth Orchestra, which I have played with for the past 3 years, and this is where a lot of members of SMART started their musical journeys in Suffolk. I am aspiring to become a professional musician. Therefore, I will embrace the experience of playing at Latitude for many reasons, including meeting and playing with professional musicians who have taken a musical career which I am aspiring to take, but also because Latitude is one of the most prestigious music festivals in the East.”

Wendy James is the Chair of SMART. She believes all children and young people should be able to access a high-quality Arts education. Wendy helped to establish SMART, as she wants to make sure that the young people of Suffolk have every opportunity to develop their talents and excel. Wendy's daughter, Vicky, was a member of Suffolk Youth Music from 2006 to 2014 and she benefited from excellent music tuition. Of Suffolk Youth Music, Wendy says, “This experience helped Vicky to develop her musicianship to a very high standard; it also developed many of the "soft skills" she required to enter the world of employment, e.g. self-confidence, collaboration, leadership, perseverance, resilience.” After completing her degree at the University of Manchester, Vicky was offered a position with the Royal Northern Sinfonia management team at Sage Gateshead and is soon to move to BBC National Orchestra of Wales as Assistant Orchestra Manager.


Will Peall is the Vice-Chair of SMART, and was in the Suffolk Youth Orchestra in the late 1980s.  Whilst he didn’t pursue a career in music, he strongly believes that it was this experience that gave him the self-confidence to start his Social Care Business, originally based on the Henham Estate, where we will now be performing at Latitude!

SMART Sinfonia are looking forward to performing at Latitude on Sunday 21st July at 11:00am on The Waterfront Stage. 


To keep up to date with SMART’s work, how to apply for funding or to donate, go to SMART’s website: 

Follow our performance on the day on our social media platforms: 

  • Twitter: @SuffolkSMART 

  • Instagram: @SuffolkSMART

  • Facebook: /SuffolkSMART 

bottom of page