Spotlight Interview: Lila Bhattacherjee

Lila Bhattacherjee is a 25-year-old musician and Newham Music’s first “Young Trustee”. She plays the flute and is currently studying for a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Lila is also a member of the Paraorchestra – the world’s only large-scale virtuoso ensemble of professional disabled and non-disabled musicians.

Hi Lila! Tell us about your musical journey.
I started playing the flute and piano at primary school when I was nine, and quickly fell in love with music! I went on to attend the Newham Music Academy every week on a Saturday from the ages of 11-15 (so it’s lovely to be back now as a trustee!) before starting at the junior department of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. As I previously mentioned, I then went on to study music at the University of Bristol, and now I’m studying at the RWCMD and playing with the Paraorchestra. It’s so exciting to be beginning my career as a professional musician and I owe so much to Newham Music for where I am today.

Can you tell us about your history with Newham Music?
I started at Newham Academy at the age of 11, and I had so many amazing experiences and opportunities during my time here. I played in a range of orchestras and ensembles, went on tour to Belgium with the choir, and performed in some incredible venues. I met and learned from some incredible people, from teachers like Chris Brannick with a  wealth of professional experience to like-minded young musicians from Newham, some of whom I’m still in contact with! My time at Newham Academy provided me with a fun and supportive environment to develop both as a musician and a person.

How long have you been a Trustee?
I was officially voted onto the board in February 2021. I’ve had a good few months and meetings to start getting my head around how board meetings are run now, but I’m definitely still in the learning process!

Why have you chosen to become a Young Trustee at Newham Music?
When Chris Brannick, who was previously the Head of Instrumental Music whilst I was a student at Newham Academy and is now the Chair of Trustees, mentioned the possibility of me becoming a young trustee for Newham Music, it felt like a perfect fit for me. After a few conversations about the nature of the role and the work Newham Music has been doing in recent years, I was really keen to get involved. Having started my musical journey at Newham Academy, I was so excited to have the opportunity to reconnect with the organisation and be a part of the amazing work they have done for me and continue to do for the next generation of musicians.

What have you gained since becoming a Young Trustee?
I’ve been able to gain so much valuable experience in the short time I’ve been a young trustee for Newham Music, and I’m so excited to see where the role takes me. I have gained a much stronger understanding of the role trustees play within a charity, how board meetings are run, finance and strategy, the current programme of events and future vision for Newham Music. I have felt hugely supported by Newham Music in helping me transition into my new role – everyone has been so helpful getting me up to speed with all the amazing work Newham Music has been doing and with explaining all the new terms and concepts that come up in board meetings!

Would you encourage others to become Young Trustees and if yes, why?
Absolutely! I think it’s incredibly important that young people’s voices are heard, and this is especially crucial within organisations that provide a service for young people. Becoming a young trustee gives you the opportunity to learn about how a board of trustees operates and learn from more experienced trustees and members of staff. It
also provides you with a platform to share your experience, advocate for young people and contribute to a cause you care about.

What is your favourite song/piece?
This is definitely the hardest question of this interview so I’m going to have to just give you my current favourite song, which is Rose Water by Hiatus Kaiyote (and all the other songs on their new album, Mood Valiant!).

Newham Music is thrilled to have Lila on our Board of Trustees and is committed to providing platforms and opportunities for young people to have their voices heard within our organisation and across the community. If you are interested in finding out more about being a Young Trustee or our other leadership opportunities for young people, please get in touch!

Lila Bjattacherjee Headshot
Jack Petchey FoundationNational Foundation For Youth MusicArts Council England

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