• Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park celebrates 5 years of progress
• Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra played first pop-up concert in UK
• Four young east London residents to travel on study visit to Smithsonian in Washington DC
A special lunchtime pop-up performance by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) marked the 5th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s opening on Friday, April 5 at 12.30pm.
The 19-piece big band orchestra in residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. made a special stop as part of its week-long visit to London during its global tour.
The SJMO played to local children, community groups and Park users in front of the site of the planned East Bank powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth, the future site of the Smithsonian’s first permanent outpost outside of the continental USA.
The event celebrated the Park’s achievements since re-opening in April 2014. After the Paralympic Games closing ceremony in 2012 a huge construction operation swung into action to remove all the temporary Olympic structures, transform the permanent venues for their long-term use, removal of thousands of tons of concrete and tarmac and the creation of new parkland. Since re-opening in 2014 more than 27 million people have visited the world-class venues, events and spectacular attractions set in 560 acres of stunning green spaces.
As part of the event, four young, local residents were selected to spend three weeks in Washington D.C. to study with the Smithsonian and learn about the creative and cultural sector. The four - Chess Charles from Newham, Abondance Matanda from Hackney, Iranga Tcheko from Tower Hamlets and Mohammed Rahman from Waltham Forest - will travel to the U.S. capital in May as part of the STEP programme to help them start a career in the cultural and creative sector.
Lyn Garner, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “We have made huge progress over the past 5 years to deliver the legacy of the London 2012 Games and the best is still to come. Our sports venues are full and being used by elite athletes alongside local users. Thousands of new homes are being built and new businesses are locating here creating tens of thousands of jobs.”
“It’s so fitting to have the Smithsonian here with us today. The SJMO typifies all that is great about the Park which has become home to the world’s best culture, sports and business. We’re also delighted to announce the four local young people who will be travelling to Washington DC, opening up new opportunities for them. We are working closely with all of the East Bank partners to create as many opportunities for east Londoners so that they directly benefit from the investment coming to Stratford.”
Charlie Young, artistic director of the SJMO said: “We are creating bespoke concerts tailored to each city. While in London, the SJMO will explore how London influenced the evolution of Jazz. Jazz bridges cultures and promotes democracy, cultural diversity and innovation and through authentic collaboration, we create something much greater than the sum of its parts.”
Abondance Matanda from Hackney, one of the successful STEP into the Smithsonian applicants, said: “I’m so excited to go to Washington D.C. to grow my network, develop my career in the cultural sector, and to make all the people who believe in me proud.”