An or­ches­tra made up of Nor­folk’s best young mu­si­cians will be joined by past mem­bers for a cel­e­bra­tory con­cert this month

EDP Norfolk - - Music -

THESE TEENAGERS are some of the most ta­lented mu­si­cians in the county. They have mas­tered the in­stru­ments of the or­ches­tra and play to­gether at sev­eral ma­jor concerts a year – in­clud­ing a cel­e­bra­tory per­for­mance this month.

“The magic comes when all the or­ches­tra re­alise that they are play­ing as one and mak­ing the most beau­ti­ful sounds – to­gether. They are speak­ing in a lan­guage with no words and reach­ing out and com­mu­ni­cat­ing to the au­di­ence who have come to see them,” says Juliet Rickard, di­rec­tor of the Nor­folk County Youth Or­ches­tra (NCYO).

“For some it is life-chang­ing, for some it is a life hobby, and for some it will be a happy mem­ory which they will want to pass onto their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.”

The Nor­folk County Youth Or­ches­tra is made up of around 60 young­sters from across the county.

Katie Schutte, 15, of Wick­le­wood, near Wy­mond­ham, be­gan play­ing the vi­o­lin when she was seven and is now leader of the or­ches­tra. “I haven’t yet de­cided what I will do when I leave school – but mu­sic will al­ways be a big part of my life,” she says.

She joined the or­ches­tra last year, af­ter play­ing with the Na­tional Chil­dren’s Or­ches­tra of Great Bri­tain for five years, and says: “Per­haps the best part of NCYO for me is the peo­ple – there’s noth­ing like grin­ning at your desk part­ner when you both fi­nally nail a hard pas­sage or solo! It’s mo­ments like this in NCYO that will stay with me for­ever, and I hope that this sense of com­mu­nity can be ex­pe­ri­enced by mu­si­cians across the county.”

Mur­ray Chap­man,17, is a per­cus­sion­ist in the or­ches­tra and says: “As well as a great op­por­tu­nity to meet other mu­si­cians from around Nor­folk, it’s also in­spired me to dis­cover and ex­plore new branches of mu­sic and reper­toire than I had en­coun­tered be­fore.” He be­gan play­ing the pi­ano at seven and says: “This was when my en­thu­si­asm for per­form­ing first kicked off. But it was only when I started learn­ing per­cus­sion at the age of 11 that I was in­tro­duced to the re­mark­able world of ensem­ble play­ing.

“Per­form­ing with in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned soloists is, of course, a great priv­i­lege!”

The or­ches­tra be­gan back in 1959, and was re­launched in 2005 af­ter a gap of about a decade.

“It’s built up over the past 12 years to the group it is to­day, which is a fan­tas­tic and na­tion­ally recog­nised county youth or­ches­tra,” says Juliet. “We have de­cided to make it a cel­e­bra­tion con­cert be­cause were are thriv­ing and do­ing so well. So we have in­vited back alumni and some will play with us too.”

Not all for­mer mem­bers of the or­ches­tra go on to mu­si­cal ca­reers, but some be­come very well known, in­clud­ing prob­a­bly the most fa­mous for­mer mem­ber of all – Myleene Klass.

Many of the or­ches­tra mem­bers be­gan learn­ing their in­stru­ments at school, but some in­stru­men­tal­ists are par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult to re­cruit. “We have got a kind of en­dan­gered group go­ing on at the mo­ment!” says Juliet. “We are des­per­ately lack­ing peo­ple play­ing dou­ble bass, French horn, vi­ola, bas­soon and oboe.”

So the county coun­cil will lend these in­stru­ments for free to chil­dren keen to learn, in­clud­ing mini dou­ble basses for younger chil­dren.

The or­ches­tra is run by the Nor­folk Mu­sic Ser­vice and funded by Nor­folk Mu­sic Hub with money from the Arts Coun­cil. “We are very proud that it’s 80pc state school pupils,” says Juliet.

There is also a friends group which raises around £12,000 a year to help stu­dents from low in­come house­holds take part in or­ches­tra events, in­clud­ing oc­ca­sional tours abroad.

“Bri­tain was in­no­va­tive in set­ting up youth or­ches­tras,” says Juliet. “Along­side

“Our county is blessed with su­perb am­a­teur mu­sic-mak­ing and is the richer for it”

pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians, count­less other peo­ple will have had some ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing in youth or­ches­tras or bands. In Nor­folk we are de­ter­mined that this will con­tinue, and funds are be­ing sought from a va­ri­ety of sources to make sure that any child who wants to be a part of this great tra­di­tion will be fully sup­ported.”

An in­ter­me­di­ate or­ches­tra, plus smaller mu­sic groups, has been set up as part of a link be­tween Nor­folk school­child­ren and Lon­don’s Guild­hall School of Mu­sic. “Nor­wich was its first re­gional base and now has 120 stu­dents in­volved,” says Juliet, who also helped launch the in­ter­na­tional Tri­orca Or­ches­tra, for 16-26-year-olds from Nor­wich and its twin ci­ties in Ger­many and Ser­bia.

Kirsty Visick, of the Friends of the Nor­folk County Youth Or­ches­tra, whose son was a mem­ber of the NCYO, says: “The young peo­ple on the whole do not go on to study mu­sic pro­fes­sion­ally but they de­velop their tal­ent and of­ten play at univer­sity and then join am­a­teur or­ches­tras later on in their lives. Our county is blessed with su­perb am­a­teur mu­sic mak­ing and is the richer for it.”

Above: The Nor­folk County Youth Or­ches­tra plays at Nor­wich Fo­rum


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