WYO November 26th Concert Review, Westmorland Gazette


"Youth Orchestra brings box of chocolates to Ambleside"


The Westmorland Youth Orchestra served up a sumptuous assortment of treats in its autumn concert on November 26th, in a classy performance of French, Russian and American delights.


More than 200 people packed Ambleside Parish Church to hear conductor Roland Fudge showcase the breadth and depth of his talented team.


"This programme is like a box of chocolates," he said. "It's made up of different pieces, but they all go together nicely."


Nowadays the WYO's strength includes two tubas, a harp, a saxophone, four violas and no fewer than 21 violins.


The lower instruments got to shine in Saint-Saens' Elephant, brass and percussion in Bizet's Farandole. The tricky cross-rhythms of Chabrier's Espana put the whole 57-strong orchestra to the test, while Barber's Adagio brought out their delicate side.


Leader Matthew Farren set the tone with a brave and polished movement from Barber's Violin Concerto and Shostakovich's waltz brought some saxophone solos from Flo Jones.


A boisterous selection from Stravinsky's Firebird Suite rounded off a performance which showed the youth orchestra in fine form despite the departure of its most senior cohort in the summer.


The audience were played to their seats by Welcome Music from the Hawkshead Wind Band for the concert, which was hosted by Ambleside and Kirkstone Rotary Club

Oliver Wates


WYO November 26th Concert Praise from Simon Yeo, Head of Cumbria Music Hub

"I just wanted to congratulate everyone on such a splendid concert. Itís clear to see that the young musicians enjoy performing in such a collaborative way.

Please pass on my congratulations to the young people, tutors, Roland and of course all the volunteers involved in supporting and running this"


WYO 2nd July Concert at Kendal Parish Church Review, Westmorland Gazette


I had never been to a Westmorland Youth Orchestra concert before. It was both a revelation and a pleasure. Thank you to all the 60 musicians who took part, and for the hours of rehearsal and practice which precede such a fine result. And, thank you to their director Roland Fudge and to theteachers and organisers who provide such a wonderful opportunity for our young musicians.

There was much to enjoy. We had three soloists confidently tackling demanding concerti: Abby Counsell's violin sung out sweetly; Oliver Heath gave an assured performance on the trumpet, and Frances Lovell on the oboe nicely captured the pastoral mood of Vaughan Williams. The orchestra supported ably throughout and on the whole achieved a good balance with the soloists. The start of the Trumpet Concerto was particularly memorable. Greig's Peer Gynt Suite and Rossini's ThievingMagpie Overture really tested the orchestra but they rose to the challenge well. There was some excellent playing, particularly in the Greig: delightful woodwind solos throughout; lovely muted strings in the Death of Ase, and a splendidly noisy Hall of the Mountain King!

This concert was the 'swansong' of David Boxford, retiring after more than 20 years in charge of the WYO. Saturday night's performance was surely a fitting tribute to the hours of work he has put in. He was presented with an engraved decanter to mark the occasion. The annual Probus award for an outstanding contribution to WYO went to the talented Keir McGregor, leader of the cello section and one of eight senior players leaving the orchestra.


Oliver Wates


WYO 12th March Concert Review, Westmorland Gazette


BOTH the Westmorland Orchestra and Westmorland Youth Orchestra are enterprising societies and this was fully demonstrated when both orchestras combined to form what is probably the largest orchestra ever to have performed in Kendalís Westmorland Hall. Around 120 players graced the stage and it was heart-warming to see youngsters in their teens sitting beside players of a much older vintage.

The concert arose out of an invitation from the senior orchestra to stage a joint concert and the commissioning of a new work for the two orchestras from local composer Roland Fudge, the conductor of the Westmorland Youth Orchestra. The result was one of the most exciting musical events (and there have been many) to be staged in Kendal in recent years. After separate performances, the two orchestras joined forces for Rolandís new piece and a selection of John Lanchberyís ballet music written for the Beatrix Potter film of 1972.

There were many high points in this concert, one of which was the premiŤre of Rolandís new work, The Long Pursuit. Roland explained that the inspiration for this piece came from his preoccupation with a poem about a chase. The idea of predator and prey was transformed musically into antiphonal interchanges between the two orchestras and a reconciliation allowing the two groups to end together harmoniously. The work was imaginative and cleverly scored, setting players in both orchestras some rhythmic challenges but, at the same time, recognising that less experienced players have certain technical limitations. It is a work which should be taken up by other amateur societies; there are very few works of this kind which allow young and not so young players to work side by side.

The performance of the Beatrix Potter ballet music was a visual spectacle, as well as an exciting auditory experience and a fine ending to a most enterprising musical venture; a model of integration and collaboration across the age divide.


Clive Walkley