Mega Orchestra Concert at the 'Coro', Ulverston - Saturday 30.11.13

"Young Persons’ guide to an Orchestra"


One hundred young musicians aged from seven to 17 brought the Westmorland Youth Orchestra’s most ambitious “outreach” programme to a triumphant close on November 30 at a packed Coronation Hall in Ulverston.


Fifty newcomers from across South Lakes joined an equal number of WYO veterans for a rousing concert of Beethoven, Schubert and the Czech composer Smetana.  As a finale, the 250-strong audience joined in to sing “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music.


It was an appropriate sentiment for a project entitled Aiming High, to introduce budding musicians to the excitement and sheer fun of playing in an orchestra. The concert followed a series of workshops by professionals from Manchester Camerata, oboist Rachael Clegg, cellist Barbara Grunthal and tuba player Ryan Breen.


“The project’s all about enriching the lives of the next generation,” said conductor Roland Fudge.  “It’s a self-renewing process full of positive vibes.”


Fudge worked tirelessly to adapt musical scores to the levels of the Aiming High debutants, some of whom have barely reached Grade Two. His orchestration of Schubert’s Trout Quintet variations was masterful; he even found time to add a variation of his own – a witty interpretation for the bizarre trio of oboe, cello and tuba, played by the Camerata guests.


The Welcome Music was free-form jazz from the prodigiously-talented 17-year-old Ulverston saxophonist Jess Gillam.


The concert was supported by, among others, the newly-formed Cumbria Music Hub, a partnership of music and arts organisations across the county.


Oliver Wates



Martin and Peter Cropper with the WYO and friends

The early morning began with scale exercises to warm us up and begin listening to the keys of our new pieces, J. S. Bach’s Double Violin Concerto and Telemann’s Sonata in D Major for two violins.  We ran through the first piece a few times; every detail sought out by the Croppers and worked on until perfect.  We played close attention to listening to everyone’s part and working together as a whole group rather than individual sections.


This was followed by a masterclass, where members of our group played solos and duets they had prepared such as Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’.  Both Peter and Martin worked closely with the individuals giving them plenty of advice and methods of improving their playing.  A welcomed lunch followed before the masterclass continued, and then we were introduced to our second piece, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3, Mov. 1.  Quick learning was required as there was only 50 minutes between receiving it and the concert!


Sitting smartly in our places, the audience waiting intently for the start of the music, we realised our soloists were missing.  Roland, stood slightly perplexed and looking around called for the pair, and eventually they appeared having been way laid with coffee and cake in the Peter Rabbit café! Musicians eh?


Saturday was a fantastic experience.  We were put under pressure to learn new and difficult music quickly, which made us work hard along side the expert advice of our two tutors.  Even though it was only a short day, we all gained an amazing amount in terms of working effectively in a group and developing our playing techniques.  We were also armed with a plethora of viola jokes (I don’t think an example is needed).  Thank you Peter and Martin – come back soon!


Persia Babayan-Taylor

First violins



Kendal Parish Church Concert on Saturday June 29th 2013

Westmorland Youth Orchestra made good use of Kendal Parish Church’s five aisles at their end-of-year concert, placing groups of players strategically to produce a musical landscape of sound from all sides. 

Confident brass playing was a feature of “Soundscapes” from the start with Stella Foxcroft’s recently-formed Brass Feeder Group playing the audience into their seats. This 20-strong group of the youngest musicians concluded with a cheery performance of the Wallace and Gromit theme. 

A striking performance of Britten’s technically complex Fanfare for St Edmondsbury was followed by Matterhorn, specially written for WYO by local trumpeter Peter Lawrence.

A moving performance of Harry Johnstone’s Tears for Helena, a tribute to cellist Helena Farrell who died in January, featured some lovely harmonies and fluid melody lines.

Abi Cooper was soloist in the slow movement from Mozart’s clarinet Concerto and Joelle Campbell sang If Only He Needs Me from the musical “Oliver”.

Conducted by the effervescent and enthusiastic Roland Fudge,the orchestra offered The Lord of The Rings driven by an exciting percussion section and concluded with a confident attempt at the 3rd movement from Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony.

The Probus Shield for Outstanding Contribution went to bassoonist Lizzie Buckle.


Penny Legat

WYO Masterclass Evening with Jack McNeill Friday 14th June

WYO members and friends were treated to a lively and inspiring visit by Jack McNeill, a freelance professional clarinettist from Birmingham. He offered useful tips to the four masterclass students and talked about what it was like to study music at college and life as a young professional with a question and answer session to follow. Jack introduced and played three solo pieces by Stravinsky – amazing.  Then - action! We were on our feet in an improvised rhythm session as a whole and in groups- fun and very good for co- ordination and listening. Abi Cooper rehearsed the slow movement of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with Jack and the Orchestra in preparation for our forthcoming concert – a useful insight as to how to perform without a conductor for both soloist and orchestra. Many thanks go to the committee for the chance to meet and learn from such an enthusiastic young player.


Youth Orchestra brings sense of fun to Cartmel

The Westmorland Youth Orchestra received a warm welcome in its first ever concert in Cartmel on March 2. Extra chairs had to be put out in the Priory School hall to accommodate everyone. The Cartmel Priory School Recorder Trio played beautifully as we settled into our seats. This “Welcome Music” set the scene for the first piece of the evening, featuring Cartmel’s own Lizzy Buckle playing her own arrangement for recorder and orchestra. It’s unusual to hear a solo recorder with a full orchestra and the sound was exquisite.

The concert continued with the variety of different styles of music that is the WYO’s hallmark. Tchaikovsky and Delius were followed by Led Zeppelin. The guest choir from Casterton School joined the orchestra to sing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which inspired a new work from conductor Roland Fudge, ‘Night Meeting’. Guest solo singers here were Grace Currie and Olivia Ridsdale, their sweet voices touched the audience. 

We caught a glimpse of the individual talent in the orchestra when David McGregor, Ed Dixon and Harry Johnstone played solos in Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’.  Johnstone even wandered out of the hall during his solo, the distant trumpet a fitting illustration of the WYO’s confidence, enterprise and sense of fun.

Yvonne Hulme