WYO 25th November Concert Review, Westmorland Gazette


"The winner will receive a bag of my freshly baked Swedish cinnamon rolls," the Westmorland Youth Orchestra's innovative new musical director, Fredrik Holm, announced at the start of Classical Quiz Night concert. In this concert-with-a-difference, audience members were invited to guess the repertoire for the evening, with clues and anecdotes from the conductor.


A thunderous crash from the percussion heralded Copland's majestic brass Fanfare for the Common Man, followed by the celebrated dance from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.


Four violin soloists played a movement each of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: an assured Winter from 10-year-old Martin Greaves, a passionate Summer from Maciet Rzepczyk, a well-polished Spring from Paddy Davies, and new leader Alistair Burton performed a sensitive and technically-proficient Autumn.


The WYO’s quality was on display with effortless tempo changes in Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No 5, beautiful phrasing in Bizet’s Prelude from L’Arlesienne Suite (with a heartfelt saxophone solo), and marked articulation in the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music.


Despite it being notoriously difficult to play such well-known pieces, soloist Ellie Moore performed the second movement from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with tenderness, and the orchestra did the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony justice.


Fredrik stood aside to let two young players conduct the orchestra, whilst he led the 250-strong audience in a rousing chorus of Bizet's Toreador song.


Strauss' Radetsky March brought the curtain down on a performance that showed that despite the departure of Roland Fudge in the summer, the Westmorland Youth Orchestra is still in excellent hands.


Laura Howorth


WYO April 1st Concert Review, Westmorland Gazette


"Youth Orchestra Bring Nordic Flavour to Ulverston"


We were promised a royal welcome to Ulverston's magnificent Coronation Hall and the Westmorland Youth Orchestra did not disappoint on April 1. Their Nordic-flavoured programme combined the energetic ensemble we have come to expect under Roland Fudge's baton with some strong solo performances. 


WYO started with Grieg’s Homage March to the medieval king Sigurd the Crusader, a noble piece with gently blended strings punctuated by well-articulated brass.  This purposeful approach was evident later in two movements from SIbelius' Karelia suite, in his Valse Triste and in Finlandia.


In between, Abigail Howie showed considerable technical prowess in the first movement of Haydn’s Trumpet concerto.  And Alistair Burton showed in Norwegian Johan Svendsen's Romance why his solo violin made him worthy winner of the Jim Noble Award at the 2017 Mary Wakefield Festival.


WYO loves the unusual, and having two tuba players in Jack Mayer and Rosie Toms, treated us to Old Man River. "It was nice to have a tune and be heard!," said Rosie.


Strength in depth was also illustrated by the lyrical counterpoint between clarinet and flute in Delius' Walk to the Paradise Garden, and Eddy Davies' saxophone solo in the Karelia Suite. 


Orchestra members in Jazz from Scratch gave us some entertaining Be-Bop, Hip Hop and Boogie for Welcome Music.


Sarah Davies