It is no exaggeration to say that without David Boxford, the WYO would almost certainly not exist. From 1994 to 2016 he managed the orchestra, devoting hours and hours of his time every week to ensure that rehearsals, concerts and other public activities all went smoothly.
During those 22 years, youth orchestras all over the country folded, sunk by lack of funds, support and players. The Westmorland went from strength to strength and most of it was down to David.
Under his tutelage, the orchestra branched out from its old Kendal base and now plays two of its three concerts each year in places like Kirkby Lonsdale, Troutbeck, Appleby or Ulverston.
“Feeder” groups were formed, meeting before the rehearsals, to introduce very young musicians to the idea of playing music together and one day joining the orchestra.
“Welcome Music” was brought in, an opportunity for small groups of other musical types to showcase their skills to the arriving audience in the half-hour before our concerts begin.
The orchestra acquired a good stock of instruments. It is now registered as an independent charity, meaning it is shielded from the vagaries of government spending decisions.
And it is on a good financial footing. When David took over its annual budget was £1,800; when he left this had risen to £35,000 from a healthy mix of grants, ticket sales, advertising, sponsorship and above all income from a solid investment fund created by him.
In his years as Deputy Chairman of the Trustees committee – the chairmanship was left vacant – David Boxford did, or oversaw: recruitment, programmes, staff, insurance, legal status, child protection, safety, fund-raising, budgets, annual accounts, investments, sponsorship, instruments, sheet music, archives, refreshments, publicity, transport, newsletters, Friends of the WYO, salaries, contracts, reviews, social media, and much more.
WYO's Musical Directors
Roland Fudge 2011-2017
I studied at Birmingham University and at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where I joined the Sartori String Quartet. We became the Quartet in Residence at Sussex University and then at Lancaster University, for several years performing throughout the UK and broadcasting on Radio and TV, and even playing for the Queen at Windsor Castle.
When the Quartet disbanded I stayed in the North West, splitting my time between performing, composing, teaching and in pioneering work in Christian worship music.
During Mike Suttcliffe’s directorship of WYO I was invited to perform the violin solo part in a Beethoven Romance, and a few years later became violin coach alongside Debby Howrie, finally taking over from Noel Bertram as Director in 2011. The team-work aspect of WYO was always very clear to me, with excellent section coaches, admirably supportive committee members and alert, responsive orchestral players. A heart-warming combination, giving me great pleasure at the time and wonderful memories.
Noel Bertram 1987 – 2011
Noel started his professional career in Scotland. After studying with Bryan Free of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, he freelanced with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Opera.
From 1978 – 1983 he was Co-Principal Trombone of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. During this time he continued to study with John Iveson, Principal Trombonist at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Noel left the RAF in 1983 to take up a place at the Royal College of Music on the Postgraduate Advanced Performers Course, continuing his studies with John Iveson.
Michael Sutcliffe 1978-87
My years with WYO were very happy. When asked what my purpose was, I always replied that after taking so much out of the musical scene, I felt I wanted to put something back into it. My conducting experience was nil so I had to learn how to become a “stick insect”! Not only is Friday night music night, but its musical participation can enrich one’s life for always.
Barry Sharkey 1969-1978
The orchestra met in the Girls Grammar School, and initially, drew most of its players from there. As the years went by, however, it expanded to take in players from the secondary schools of the entire area. The repertoire expanded to meet the ever-improving abilities of the players and non-arrangements of Beethoven Symphonies were included in concert programmes. Some members played with the Westmorland Orchestra, but, for me, the emphasis was on the enjoyment and excitement of making music together. Memories of players taking up the baton at the end of term rehearsal, and taking revenge on the tutors, who became ‘player-victims’ for the evening, remain strong – as does the enthusiasm of the players, for whatever was asked of them.