Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park swings as the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra helps celebrate fifth anniversary

PUBLISHED: 17:40 05 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:49 05 April 2019

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra got Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's fifth anniversary off to a swing. Picture: JON KING

The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra got Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park's fifth anniversary off to a swing. Picture: JON KING


A jazz orchestra got Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park swinging on its fifth anniversary as four lucky youngsters scooped a once-in-a-lifetime scholarship to the world’s largest museum.

About 200 people swung to the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) outside the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford on Friday.

The 19-piece big band in residence at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. made a special stop as part of a week-long visit to London.

Lyn Garner, chief executive officer of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), said: “It’s so fitting to have the Smithsonian here with us.

“The SJMO typifies all that is great about the park which has become home to the world’s best culture, sports and business.”

Children from Mossbourne Riverside and Chobham Academy joined the crowd listening to the musicians play jazz classics including Duke Ellington’s The Single Petal of a Rose and Time Square by Leonard Bernstein.

Ms Garner then introduced four youngsters selected to go on a three-week all expenses paid three week study visit to the Smithsonian – including Chess Charles from Beckton.

Chess said: “I really didn’t think I would get in. I’m just super excited now. It hasn’t really sunk in. It’s quite overwhelming.”

The 22-year-old, who wants to design exhibitions for a living, added that she wanted to explore ways to get more youngsters visiting museums.

“They maybe aren’t the first place for young people to go to – not that they don’t – but I think there’s ways to make them more accessible, attractive and fun,” Chess said.

The Smithsonian is one of six creative institutions heading to the park’s East Bank opposite the Aquatics Centre with the London College of Fashion, University College London, Sadler’s Wells, the V&A museum and BBC setting up east London outposts.

The LLDC expects East Bank to generate £1.5billion and predicts the 560 acre park will see 33,000 homes built by 2036 and 40,000 jobs by 2025.

Since re-opening after the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, more than 27 million people have visited the park which closed for two years after the games so temporary buildings and tonnes of concrete could be removed.

Kathryn Taylor Saunders, of Wakelin Road, West Ham – a volunteer in 2012 – said: “We’re welcoming the world to Newham.”

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