Westmorland Youth Orchestra at Casterton School


Westmorland Youth Orchestra paid tribute to a tragic First World War composer on November 27th with a performance of Cecil Coles’ recently discovered Behind the Lines. Coles, from Kirkcudbright, was killed in April 1918 aged only 29 while trying to rescue wounded colleagues. The two surviving movements of the suite were found stored in an Edinburgh college a decade ago with the muddy manuscript still pockmarked with shrapnel. The WYO did it justice, especially the second movement depicting a funeral cortege, with William White’s horn solos particularly haunting. But this was just one highlight of a fascinating evening for the many who braved the snow to come out to Casterton School.


Noel Bertram’s inventive programming and persuasive baton gave us a rumbustious rendition of Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No 2, complete with three saxophones, accordion and an array of percussion. Before that, Libby Gibson, 16, was a poised and polished soloist in the Concertino for Flute by that rarest of creatures, a female composer, Cecile Chaminade, negotiating the swoops and flourishes with aplomb.


The “welcome” music came in the shape of some beautifully precise singing from Casterton Phoenix choir and two dazzling piano solos.   


Oliver Wates



by Siobhan Donnelly


I have to say that the Aberdeen Trip was one highlights of my summer this year, certainly the funniest; even the bus journeys were amusing. We stayed in flats of six on the University campus, I think our flat was probably the giggliest.


We had the mornings free and so spent them either shopping in the city centre, relaxing on the beach or, as some did, riding the rides at the fair. Our afternoons were spent rehearsing before playing two joint concerts, with a Russian piano and flute duet, at Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen and then Arbroath theatre. Both concerts were a definite success, and in Arbroath Zoe even got to play the Finzi Eclogue on a lovely Steinway.


The journey back to Aberdeen after the Arbroath concert managed to banish any fears that we may branch out into a choir after our rousing renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Quartermaster’s Stores. Our late evenings were filled with a variety of music and dance from many nations, as the campus was filled with cabaret shows. I particularly enjoyed the steel drums performance and the folk session. But most of all I enjoyed sitting with some good friends playing deprivation and arguing about different composers whilst waiting for the northern lights not to happen. The trip was a fantastic experience, an opportunity to play to a wider audience and make some new friends as we were joined by some members of the Cumbria Youth Orchestra.


Fingers crossed for next year!



by Emma Davies (flute)


I really enjoyed Aberdeen and I think everyone did. I liked the fact that we were able to go into the beach or to town in the mornings, so it wasn't all just rehearsals, and I liked the concert venues - particularly the second one.
The flute duet that we performed with were fantastic, and it was great to be able to watch them. However, it would have been good to have been able to watch the NYC of Scotland, but I suppose it highlights just how popular the festival is.
It was a great trip overall - nice food, comfortable accomodation and a lovely group of players and staff.

Westmorland Youth Orchestra and Amabile Girls’ Choir delight in proms style - 26th June 2010


Westmorland Youth Orchestra Kendal Parish Church THE Westmorland Youth Orchestra and Amabile Girls’ Choir joined together for a night of musical delight.


The Bassoon Group, led by Cathy Scott, kicked off the evening before Noel Bertram picked up his baton once more to conduct the orchestra ‘In Proms Style’, with works by Wagner and Fauré.


Amabile, under the direction of Frances Chaisson, and accompanied by Lesley Talbot, performed newly-commissioned Earth Tide by Melody Rowe, showcasing solos from soprano Hannah Marsden and Abi Cooper on clarinet.


Once again, Noel pushed the boundaries for both orchestra and audience with contemporary pieces by Australian Matthew Hindson and Christopher Theofanidis and a taste of Arctic life, complete with birdsong soundtrack, by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara.


Percussionist Zoe Craven took centre stage for once as soloist in Finzi’s Eclogue for Piano and Strings.


A rousing finale saw the orchestra and Amabile come together to perform Proms classics, including Jerusalem and Rule Britannia, featuring Laura Wilson as soloist – with a little help from the audience!


Kendal Probus Club’s annual award went to principal trumpeter Amy Redfern-Pattison for her outstanding contribution to WYO.


By Charlotte Curwen



Review oF WYO Concert at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, 19th March 2010


An ‘evocative’ programme was promised by the WYO at their spring concert, that was certainly fulfilled and an ambitious, varied one was offered. 


Entering the hall at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School the audience were treated to a set by Blue Jam duo Steve and Max.


After a rhythmic, dynamic rendition of Warlock’s Capriol Suite the first half of the orchestral programme featured the Prelude by Skempton.  The tension built up by the control and precision of the players was quite electric.  This was followed by fabulous aboriginal texture from the percussion section to bring the seasons of the Australian bush alive in Sculthorpe’s Kakadu. 


After the interval a piece by Berio showed all sections of the orchestra off to great effect.  The finale of four Wagner favourites showcased tremendously punchy brass playing, fine lower strings adding a profound depth to the sound. Both the horns and the woodwind demonstrated smooth melodic power.


Conductor Noel Bertram’s warm friendly introductions together with the obvious enjoyment, passion, talent and energy of his young players combined to give an evening of vitality and magic.