The Community Ambassadors are a group of volunteers who very kindly give up their time to help promote the work of the LSO in the community local to LSO St Luke's. Mike Morfey has been involved with the LSO in several capacities for over 10 years, and we asked him what the Community Ambassadors do and why he loves to be involved.
I became an LSO Friend in 2005 and met Philip King, who introduced me to LSO St Luke's. He talked to me about whether I'd like to get involved as a Community Ambassador. I don't live in Finsbury myself, but because of my involvement with the LSO as a Friend and as a steward at LSO St Luke's it works well combining the two things. What I like doing is providing a bridge between the LSO and local people, bringing the best music to the greatest number of people.
The Ambassadors meet to discuss what we could do in promoting the work of the LSO, particularly thinking of local audiences. One of the great things we came up with was 'Into the LSO' nights for people who wouldn’t normally go to classical concerts because they think they are elitist or are too frightened to come along. We pick a "friendly" concert and all take as many tickets as we think we can sell to people we know or people we meet, and then we meet them on the night and be the friendly face.
When we have a stall on Whitecross Street market (just south of Old Street) we play LSO Live CDs, give out literature and just talk to people. I particularly like helping on our information stalls, interacting with people and telling them about our concerts, and encouraging them to come back. One thing I really enjoy is the LSO's annual outdoor concert in Trafalgar Square. It's free, and it gives me an opportunity to talk to hundreds of people! I can't help thinking of my late colleague Philip King; we had many happy times together promoting the LSO and its work.
I've run three London Marathons for the LSO: for LSO Discovery 2008, the Lord Mayor's charity Pitch Perfect in 2010, and the Moving Music campaign in 2013, raising £15,000. Lennie (Mackenzie, the LSO Chairman) let me speak to the Orchestra and tell them what I was doing; he even interrupted Colin Davis on one occasion, who said 'go ahead'! Hilary Jones in the cellos organised the Orchestra sponsor forms for me. 2013 was my last marathon, and on that one I enlisted the help of staff from Discovery and LSO St Luke's at various points, as I dressed in a musical costume and I needed to offload the buckets of coins en route!
I think it's special the way the LSO engages in Discovery work outside of the concert hall. They go to schools, hospices and hospitals. It's wonderful the way they give up their time to others.
Top photo: the LSO Community Ambassadors at LSO St Luke's © Kevin Leighton