Catherine Jane Arlidge, a U.K. national who received her Master of Music degree at the Eastman School of Music in 1988, has been appointed a Member of the British Empire (MBE). The MBE is one of the ranks in the Orders of the British Empire, which are awarded for distinguished service and contributions to the arts and sciences, public service, and charitable and welfare organizations.
Arlidge is being honored for her service to music education through her projects connecting young people with classical music.
After earning her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Manchester, Arlidge was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and an Eastman Fellowship. She studied with Zvi Zeitlin at Eastman and, on returning to England, concluded her studies with Felix Andrievsky at the Royal College of Music.
In 1990, Arlidge was appointed Sub-Principal Second Violin of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO). In addition to performing, touring, and recording with the orchestra over the past 25 years, she has maintained a busy program of education activities.
Arlidge is a regular presenter of the CBSO’s schools concerts and family concerts series. In 2006, she created Notelets, a popular series of interactive performances for pre-school children. She works regularly in schools, exploring creative music-making and composition through collaborations with teachers, actors, composers, visual artists, authors, and dancers.
In addition, Arlidge is a member of The Stringcredibles, a quartet of CBSO musicians who work in schools and community settings in support of instrumental learning. The group targets schools with high numbers of children who qualify for free meals and have limited access to live music. The Stringcredibles also bring performances to museums in areas of low engagement, drawing audiences across generations. Their project “Stringcredible Apprentices” sends talented young musicians into primary schools, bringing concerts to children while developing the teenaged artists’ audience communications skills. In 2014, The Stringcredibles quartet performed for more than 6,000 children and families and worked creating new compositions in projects with 500 children.
Arlidge’s latest project, Clock onto Safety, is collaboration with the Birmingham City Council and a law firm. The initiative uses music to teach young children to cross the road safely. The performance project was awarded a Jaguar Land Rover Business Champions for Arts and Business Award in 2013.
“Catherine Arlidge is one of a rare few: a passionate educator who also continues to perform as a violinist at the highest level,” wrote Stringcredibles cellist Helen Edgar in the nomination for the MBE honor. “She challenges the ways in which orchestras relate to their communities and generate new audiences, with a particular focus on the very youngest potential concert goers.”
In January 2014, Aldrige became the first violinist and only the third-ever recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society and The Association of British Orchestras’ Salomon Prize, a prestigious award celebrating the outstanding contribution of orchestra players to musical life in the United Kingdom.
Orders of the British Empire honors are announced in the Crown’s official newspaper the London Gazette at New Year and on the date of the Queen’s official birthday in mid-June.
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