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Fabulously British! 16th March 2024, Appleby Public Hall


The Westmorland Youth Orchestra held their Spring concert in Appleby with a programme of British music through the ages, from the early Baroque period to present day. As the audience gathered they were entertained by Jazinfusion who play lively music with a jazzy twist. This student led group, directed by Fredrik Holm, goes from strength to strength and showcases the wider talents of the orchestra members.

The concert started with a beautiful piece of music by Dowland for violin and harp, sympathetically interpreted and gracefully performed by Tiegan Lowthian and Sophia Walls. The orchestra opened with Rule Britannia, the first of some of our favourite pieces by British composers. The exception to this was the wonderful Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in D Minor with soloist, Ella Pratt. The orchestra’s string section accompanied with sensitivity as Ella performed the playful melody with energy and precision with the cadenzas showing off her technical skills and musicality. 

After the interval we’d reached the early 1900s and Holst’s Planet Suite, Mars. Here the brass and percussion section shone through creating a menacing and dramatic atmosphere. In contrast Malcolm Arnold’s Toy Symphony brought humour to the programme as some instruments were swapped for toy whistles and percussion, conducted enthusiastically by Grace Bateman.

The concert finished with an arrangement of two Beatles songs and the orchestra’s favourite, Viva la Vida by Coldplay. 

As you watch this youth orchestra perform you are drawn into their energy and love of making music together. This is facilitated by their musical director, Fredrik Holm and the team of tutors, who encourage students to create and develop their musical skills together.

                                                                                                            YH  (March 2024)

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Jazz is in the Air – Friday January 12th – Castle Street Centre


Deferred from a snow-bound December 2nd the WYO’s winter concert showed no signs whatever of the 6 week gap since the last rehearsal! Under Fredrik Holm’s careful, friendly and thoughtful guidance the young players came up with a wonderfully varied and enjoyable concert of ‘jazzy favourites’. That this concert had only to be postponed rather than cancelled was clear because of the amount of preparation which had been undertaken.


From the opening notes of the Wind Band’s ‘welcome music’, confidently held together by Isobel Mortimer’s clear direction and a reliably steady drum beat, to the closing tender phrases of the music from La La Land which showed off the sheer beauty of sound and instrumental colour which this young orchestra can create, this concert was a total pleasure.


The shaping of WYO concerts is delightful, original and provides many opportunities for the players to explore different genres of music. The Training Strings played their opening jazz-inflected music with great vigour and more excellent jazz from Jazinfusion accompanied the interval refreshments. All this music may have been incidental to the main concert items but enthusiasm and commitment abound as well as some very fine individual performances particularly from the saxophones!


The main concert programme – also jazz orientated – was a sheer delight. One of the most impressive features for me is that despite the obvious absence of several instruments within the orchestra there is never a sense of incompleteness. The arrangements are carefully and skilfully done – in one case by an orchestra member herself – so that a full and satisfying sound and a great deal of instrumental colour is achieved. The gently swung rhythm of East St Louis Toodle-Oo was introduced by an atmospheric trumpet solo leading into some very slinky clarinet sound; the cumulative effect of the two Improvisations, so well held together by the drummer whose own individual contributions throughout the evening showed what an impressive talent he has, was most satisfying; elsewhere we heard many solo passages – the opening clarinet for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the harp and violin evocatively announcing the final piece in the concert.


Three pieces in particular were outstanding. The West Side Story suite was played with great confidence and sense of style: the rich string sound in ‘Maria’, the syncopations in ‘Tonight’, the lovely harp and violin combination in ‘Make Up Our Lives’: so much contrast of instrumental sound! Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite – not an easy piece for any players to bring off – following the slinky opening saxophone was despatched in great style and Dave Brubeck’s Take Five had all its sultry rhythms in place. Excellent stuff!


All this music-making was further enhanced by the introductions disarmingly presented by individual members of the orchestra. This, along with opportunities for individual players to write the arrangements or to conduct the performances, creates a very strong sense of the young players identifying with and ‘owning’ the music. This can only be good. WYO is very fortunate indeed to have such inspired leadership that Fredrik and his team of individual tutors provides; long may it continue and grow!


                                                                                                       Ian Jones 13/1/24

Westmorland Youth Orchestra celebrates 75 years with a rousing concert

On Saturday 24 June in Kendal Parish Church the Westmorland Youth Orchestra celebrated 75 years.

The Westmorland Junior Orchestra, as it was known then, was started in 1948 by the late Margaret Hine, MBE.  Miss Hine was a well-known local music teacher who also formed Greenside Choir in Kendal.  The orchestra practised in Castle Street School on a Friday evening and that is still the case.

The welcome music from Jazinfusion began at 7 p.m. with a selection of short pieces, including the Skye Boat Song and was played by half of the orchestra and Fredrik Holm, the orchestra’s conductor, playing the piano.

The main concert began at 7.30 p.m. with Tritsch-Tratsch Polka by J Strauss 11 a rousing start to the evening.  The Lord of the Rings followed and then Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite 1.

Fredrik Holm’s Bassoon composition of Footpath took us up to the interval.  Fredrik’s piece, written for bassoon and orchestra consisted of seven pieces which followed the bassoon’s journey from Darkness to Light.  Quite an exhausting piece for the bassoon player!

The Orchestra leader was Tiegan Lowthian.  It was pleasing that some former players and two former conductors of the orchestra, Noel Bertram and Roland Fudge also joined the tutors who had returned to join in this special evening.  Fredrik Holm encourages the students to conduct and work hard but most of all to ENJOY their music.  He certainly has a rapport with the students in his quite jolly and happy disposition which encourages the students to connect. The youngest player is 12 years old and most stay for four or five years or until they move on to more music education.

Following the interval, the next two pieces were winners in the WYO composition Competition.

The first piece by Emily Finch, a member of WYO for four years and was titled Ode to the Orchestra and it was her desire to give back to the orchestra for the enjoyment and friendship she had derived from the four years as a member. It was based on her love of folk music.

The second winner was Ottilie Wallace, a 12 year old girl from Worcestershire who is presently studying at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.  Her piece was entitled Westmorland Jubilate based on folk songs and the spectacular scenery in the area.

The winning compositions were followed by Danse Infernale by Stravinsky and then we were treated to four of the students singing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.  Along with the orchestra it was a special moment for all and received a rapturous applause.

An all-time favourite Finlandia by Sibelius was next with Libertango by A. Piazolla a South American piece and were told we could dance if we wished!

The audience’s turn was next when a selection of the Sound of Music by R. Rodgers had been especially arranged by Roland Fudge.  We had no excuse not to join the full orchestra as the words for ‘Climb ev’ry Mountain’ were printed in our programme and we did not disappoint!!

The final piece Drottningholmsmusiken (Swedish) by H. Roman in the style of Handel was a jolly piece just right for the end of the programme.

Thank you, what a splendid, special evening of fun, music and happiness all round.

Following the concert we were all invited to the Parish Hall for drinks and a special cake which had a winning anniversary logo printed on the icing which had been designed by Charlotte Pattinson aged 14 from Nelson Thomlinson School in Wigton.

Special thanks must go to all the helpers of the orchestra who fund raise and work behind the scenes to keep this amazing orchestra going.

Their next concert will be on Saturday 2 December 2023 in Ambleside Parish Church

This was followed by the Jazz Suite No. 2 by Shostakovich demonstrating the orchestra’s ability to play with great dynamic range, and also showcased the beautiful saxophone playing of Daisy Tomlinson. 

Next, In the interests of balance, the wind and percussion (along with Nuala Sankey on bass guitar) treated us to a rip roaring medley from Shrek 2. Again this was full of colour and courageous playing; a brilliant drum ‘break’ by Grzegorz Figiel, a fabulous clarinet moment from Erin Munford and more wonderful trumpet playing and polished tempo changes.


The ‘interval’ offered us another musical movie treat - the Jazinfusion Band, made up of players from the orchestra and led by Fredrik from the keyboard. Their playlist included music from La La Land, Toy Story and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, all imaginatively arranged for their unusual mix of instruments and brilliantly played, including a lovely violin solo from Ella Pratt.


The second half was equally full of fun and excitement. We heard the Mission Impossible Theme, music from Downton Abbey, a Mamma Mia Medley and Howl’s Moving Castle. The Jazinfusion band appeared again, popping up from their various places in the orchestra complete with hats and sunglasses playing ‘Cantina Band’ from Star Wars. How many orchestras have a leader who can also stand up and play the Trombone with such style? We also heard ‘Hakuna Matata’ from the Lion King sung with great spirit by Amos Rand, who stepped out from the Viola section.  


The WYO and its members are, without doubt, endlessly versatile!


The concert came to an end with a medley from the Pirates of the Caribbean which was a fitting finale to what had been a wonderfully enjoyable evening for everyone there, orchestra and audience alike.

Cumbria’s young musicians collaborate for Christmas

Friday 2 December 2022, Kendal Leisure Centre

Repeat concert Monday 5 December, St John the Evangelist Church, Carlisle


Six hundred eager ticket holders danced their way to their seats in Kendal’s vast leisure centre on Friday night. Jazinfusion, The Westmorland Youth Orchestra’s Jazz ensemble, put everyone in the festive spirit before the main event, with their pre-concert Christmas set. Feliz Navidad—played with all the panache of a Puerto Rican jazz band—set the scene for what was to come, which was a concert that reflected the true spirit of Christmas: families, friends both old and new, and the smiles and voices of young children.

The troubled times of 2022 were forgotten as three hundred primary school children and the massed forces of the WYO and their guests, The Cumbria Youth Orchestra took their seats. Their conductor Fredrik Holm, looking exceptionally dapper in his long tailcoat, announced the start of the concert with a festive composition of his own: Fanfare.

The idea for this concert came from the Cumbria Music Hub, who working in conjunction with WYO had planned to originally hold it in December 2020 - but we all know what happened that year. In the intervening couple of years, neither organisation lost the vision and passion for what was a hugely complex and meticulously planned event.  Children from Flookburgh, Heron Hill, Holme, Milnthorpe, St Cuthbert’s, St Mark’s, Selside, Old Hutton and Storth primary schools have all been working with the Cumbria Music Hub staff and their own class teachers to learn the songs, while WYO and CYO have been hard at work rehearsing to be ready for the first collaboration in their long histories of being the premier youth orchestras of the county.

The joint orchestra was the first to showcase their skills with Christmas Eve Sarajevo. The musicians revelled in the upbeat version of Carol of the Bells and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen while the audience visibly tapped feet.

When the children—seated on both flanks of the orchestra—stood to join them in an arrangement of music from Polar Express, parents could be seen glancing at each other and gripping hands.  In their school uniforms of Blue, Green or Red, the young children sang their hearts out—never veering into shouting or over exuberance—and showed off their perfectly timed and co-ordinated actions. More was to come with Christmas in the Air, a medley of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Frosty the Snowman.

The only break from the Christmas theme of the evening came when Charlotte Pattinson was announced as the winner of WYO’s logo design competition, and then the performance of Gilmant’s Morceau Symphonique. Nothing could demonstrate the strength of talent of young musicians in Cumbria more than Tiegan Lowthian. She not only led the orchestra with her stylish and polished violin playing but she also picked up her trombone and stood to give a truly virtuosic performance of the short but difficult trombone concerto. Even those in the audience with little knowledge of the skills required to do this were amazed by the ease with which she switched between the two instruments and the incredible standard of her playing.

It was the famous opening notes of the Music from Frozen that bought the gasps of anticipation from audience and choir alike. It started with Do You Want to Build a Snowman before segueing into In Summer and then to Let in Go and For the First Time in Forever - the part where everyone in the audience was at least mouthing the words if not singing along.

Sarah Devereux from the Cumbria Music Hub expertly led everyone through the evening and after thanks were given to those who made the concert possible, a final sing-along to Away in a Manger and Jingle Bells brought this wonderful evening of music making to an end. A lasting memory for many will be the children leaving the stage whilst exuberantly singing along to encore of Jingle Bells. It may have been the first collaboration of WYO and CYO, but let’s all hope it is not the last. AD

Westmorland Youth Orchestra’s Film Night was a truly entertaining concert full of imagination and colour.

 The evening started off with two of the orchestra’s ‘feeder’ groups, the Training Strings and the Wind Band, performing welcome music as the audience arrived. It is lovely to see and hear the next generation of young musicians performing with enthusiasm and commitment.

The main orchestra, conducted by Fredrik Holm and led by Tiegan Lowthian, kicked off the concert with a James Bond Medley. Introduced, as was every piece in the concert, by a member of the orchestra. This was played with precision, energy and some impressively slick tempo changes. There was also some notably classy trumpet playing from Jake Leech Sanders and Ethan Pugh. The Pink Panther then put in an appearance – complete with finger clicks from everyone!

After that came a complete gear change with the orchestra’s String section playing Barber’s Adagio.  This is a demanding piece, musically and  emotionally, and the players managed it extremely well.

Baroque and all that Jazz!

Kendal Parish Church, Saturday June 25th, 2022


After a 3-year absence, an enthusiastic and appreciative audience was able to welcome the Youth Orchestra back to its traditional summer concert venue and to enjoy a varied feast of music making. The combination of sunshine through the church windows and the sounds of the two WYO ‘Training Orchestras’ – for wind and string instruments – was a particularly delightful start to the evening. It is such a good idea to give these youngest players the opportunity to play together, to perform their music and to experience that unique satisfaction of sharing their playing with an audience.


In his customary droll way Fredrik Holm, the orchestra’s Musical Director, introduced the main concert and both then and in his programme note was keen to stress the inclusivity of the WYO both in terms of its membership and its repertoire. So the concert began with the ‘Jazinfusion’ group playing with infectious rhythm and colourful instrumentation. It was a joy to share their enthusiasm for their music which featured tight drum kit playing, swinging saxophones and soulful violin melodies, particularly in ‘Autumn Leaves’.


More traditional musical fare followed with movements from Handel’s Water Music played by an eclectic ensemble of wind instruments – colourful and inauthentic in Fredrik’s arrangement but always lively and interesting! The whole orchestra joined in for Le Cahos by the French baroque composer Jean-Fery Rebel. Again this featured instruments which the composer did not have in mind but, as Fredrik warned us at the start, this concert was going to be ‘Baroque music as you have never heard it’ – and none the worse for that! The first half ended with a most moving performance of the Ukraine National Anthem.


The annual summer concert is always the time when the WYO has to take leave of some of its older members as they move on to higher education. On this occasion we had the opportunity to hear some most beautiful recorder playing by Ellian Ozanne. With the strings of the orchestra providing a shimmering accompaniment they played the Vivaldi ‘Largo’ most beautifully, with a gorgeous silvery tone from the sopranino recorder. The recorder sound was then added most pleasingly to the whole orchestra’s performance of Rameau’s ‘Entrée’ from ‘Les Boreades’ – played with stately grandeur and accurate intonation.


For the climax to the evening’s music-making it was an inspired idea to invite the young oboist Ewan Millar, the winner of the Woodwind Category Final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2020, to play for, and with, the members of the WYO. Ewan and Fredrik, who is himself a very fine bassoon player, joined forces to play a sonata by Fredrik’s fellow Swedish countryman Johan Roman and then, with the WYO strings, Ewan played Cimarosa’s lovely Concerto for Oboe and Strings – a Classic FM favourite! This was really lovely music-making giving the young WYO players the chance to play alongside a young virtuoso who is really going places and to show them what possibilities there are for all of them in the music world.


A final rousing piece from the Swedish Johan Roman rounded off the evening with great panache and produced prolonged applause from a well-satisfied audience!



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WYO plays Pop!

Appleby Public Hall

Saturday 12 March 2022

Westmorland Youth Orchestra gave a concert of Pop classics and some specially written works to a packed and highly appreciative audience in the Public Hall at Appleby. Fredrik Holm, the orchestra’s conductor had made arrangements of the music which were tailored to the orchestra’s players whom he clearly knows very well. There was also a very carefully written arrangement of John Powell’s How, exactly, do you train a dragon by orchestra member Ellian Ozanne. What was particularly striking about this and indeed all the performances was the sheer enthusiasm and enjoyment the players showed, and we were fortunate to be able to see, and appreciate, the dedication to making music that was so obvious in these performances.

In his introduction the conductor told the audience that he had hoped that schools might be involved in the performance, and unfortunately that didn’t happen, but it did not matter because members of the orchestra, including one of the tutors, stepped up and performed as singers to the obvious delight of the audience.

Pop music classics such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Thriller need a good solid and rhythmic beat and the percussion section was excellent in providing that – and all credit to Gabriel Weber whose kit drumming was always strong and supportive. Also important to the textures were the keyboard players who swapped around for different numbers and the excellent bass playing of Nuala Sankey.

The orchestra also gave the first public performance of Poem No. 2, a work by Jan Harris, a young composer who had written a piece which relied for its effect on musical ideas which were repeated and varied in different ways. The string players made a lovely warm sound and there was a particularly attractive section featuring the flutes and harp. Fredrik Holm was careful to control the expression and the dynamic in this work to achieve an effective climax while keeping the rhythmic impetus constant.

 This was followed by MacCartney’s Because in which the vocal soloist was Debby Howrie, violin tutor. Here the accompaniment was gentle and effective, and it was followed by the upbeat Thriller with Ben Tonkin and the orchestra giving a performance full of verve and energy. Clean Bandit’s Rather Be was well executed by Amos Rand (who previously did a sterling job on Bohemian Rhapsody) and Lydia Harris to a strong rhythmic accompaniment from the orchestra, while Alex Morris, one of Fredrik Holm’s students rounded off the first half with a confident version of Dance with me tonight.

The audience were welcomed to the evening by the ensemble Jazinfusion drawn from members of the orchestra, and in the interval members of the orchestra entertained with lively and energetic songs – encouraging the audience to join in. The acoustic qualities in Appleby Public Hall are not the most helpful to larger groups of performers and it is to the credit of all these young performers that they worked really hard to overcome this with their energy and commitment.

The second half began with Hans Zimmer’s Earth played with long well sustained lines by strings and wind equally. This performance and Daffodils by Toby Bradbury were dedicated to the memory of one of the tutors – Catherine Scott – who had died earlier in the year. Daffodils was the winner of a composition competition which the orchestra had established. The work began with a quiet solo from the leader of the orchestra Anna Roch,  and featured some very effective wind writing, as well as a rather more jaunty middle section in which the orchestra was well balanced.

The arrangement of How, exactly, do you train a dragon? mentioned earlier was impressive for the fact that Ellian showed already how to achieve a good balance of orchestral parts and the piece demonstrated that the arranger clearly knew the players as different instruments were used carefully for effect.

The concert concluded with lively performances of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep played with real conviction and sung with gusto by Amos Rand, Ben Tonkin, Grace Bateman and Callie Popple, and Callie also sang the final number Viva la vida, a fitting climax to the concert where the orchestra showed how effective they could be in full ensemble.

 At the end of the concert the orchestra was given a long standing ovation by the audience – well deserved – and were treated to an encore – Abba’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! played and sung with huge energy, engagement and commitment. 

It is marvellous to see young musicians so involved with the performances and enjoying themselves so much. This shows just how important live music is. It is crucial that schools, in particular, continue to encourage young people to learn instruments and to perform, because everyone benefits. It is also vital that funding is available to encourage anyone to learn an instrument and to have the opportunity to play in an ensemble. Well done to Westmorland Youth Orchestra, conductor, tutors, but most of all, the members.

Richard McGregor

Youth Orchestra defies Covid

Ambleside Parish Church,

Saturday 4 December 2021 

“We’re back!,” shouted Fredrik, raising his arms in triumph. And we were.  For the first time in two years the Westmorland Youth Orchestra was back to something like a full performance. Its Christmas Concert in Ambleside’s St Mary’s Church on December 4th was fizzing with the talent, the enterprise and the joy of playing together we have come to expect under the baton of Musical Director Fredrik Holm. The audience of 70 who had braved the foul winter weather loved it.


Sophie Hall’s solo trumpet in Gordon Langford’s tricky Concertino was a delight, demonstrating sophistication as well as skill. We almost take it for granted that some of our players will come up with compositions of their own, but it is a remarkable achievement in itself simply to write for a large musical ensemble. Ellian Ozanne and Callie Popple did not disappoint, producing works showing lyricism as well as maturity in structuring and writing.

The main course came after the interval and Fredrik could barely hide his excitement at having one of the pillars of the traditional classical repertoire to conduct, for the first time since the pandemic struck. Few could fail to feel their pulses quicken as the first notes of Schubert’s 8th “Unfinished” Symphony sounded through the church.


And we cannot forget JazInfusion, which launched the concert with a medley of rock and jazz pieces, culminating in with… inevitably … an enthusiastic rendition of Slade’s “Merry Christmas, Everybody”. The 10 members of the band mostly play in the orchestra proper – albeit sometimes on different instruments!


JazInfusion is the baby of Double Bass tutor Stuart Lewthwaite and the importance of the role of our professional musicians was marked by a small presentation to Pam Redman, who is leaving after four years guiding the 1st violins through some challenging material. Catherine Scott, who stepped down a few months ago after 20 years (!) coaching a range of woodwind, was in the audience and her enormous contribution was also recognised.


The pandemic has been hard for WYO. Eighteen months without proper rehearsals, the  lockdowns, precautions, sectional sessions and general fear have taken their toll. The audience was – deliberately – modest by our standards; there are still too many gaps in the line-up and some sections could do with more players; the playing too occasionally betrayed the lack of quality rehearsal time and cohesion.


But be in no doubt, this was a triumph.  The WYO is indeed “back” and whatever the pandemic throws at us next, is not going anywhere.

Oliver Wates

Get off your Phone!

Video Game Music for Orchestra

Saturday 7 March 2020, 7.30pm

QES Kirkby Lonsdale

Playing the Game!

Review of Westmorland Youth Orchestra concert 


We are so lucky to have this vibrant youth orchestra in our area, conducted by the charismatic and talented Fredrik Holm and led, this evening, by Imogen Banfield. Their “Get off Your Phone” concert at QES on Saturday 7th March was an ambitious and packed programme of music from video games, starting with a funny woodwind rendition of “Pong” and following that with a hugely exciting arrangement of music from Tetris, specially arranged for this orchestra by Fredrik. This really set the tone for what would be a superbly played programme.

Three stand-out soloists were featured: trumpeter Zoë Lovell, whose excellent control of all registers of the instrument made her rendition of Pakhmatova’s fantastically demanding concerto sound exciting, passionate and beautiful; trombonist Rosemary Kelly, who took the solo role in Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous concerto, carrying through the fanfare opening and the more lyrical lines with impressive clarity; and violinist Maciej Rzepczyk, whose performance of the most beautiful movement of any Bach violin concerto (the andante from BWV 1041) showed his superb tone, bowing control and musical maturity.

Every section of the orchestra was used to its full potential in this concert, with the most obvious fun being had by members of the percussion section, especially in the second half of the concert. The full array was there, including an assortment of hand-held percussion, very dramatic bass drum and gong, and marimba, played expertly by Paddy Davies. The string section made everything from Bach to the frightening pizzicato rhythms in the Super Mario music sound effortless, and it is wonderful to see so many young people filling this vital part of the orchestra. The woodwind section has an impressive number of players, and they all projected their parts well during the concert. The trombones, trumpets and horns were particularly impressive, with a lot of energetic and powerful playing.

The main vote of thanks goes to the inspiring conductor, dressed in his Super Mario t-shirt and offering the audience tips and facts about gaming. This orchestra is very lucky to have such a gifted and endlessly motivating and encouraging leader, and we all look forward to their next concert on June 20th!

Jen  Hartley

Westmorland Youth Orchestra presents

A Seasonal Celebration

Saturday 23 November, 7.30pm at Dallam School

Welcome music from 7pm

Conductor Fredrik Holm

Youth Orchestra heralds the Festive Season


By Rebecca Clifford-Perkins


It’s official, Christmas is here…


On a cold, wet November evening, there was no better place to be than in the warmth of Dallam School Hall listening to the mighty sound of the Westmorland Youth Orchestra (WYO).


Under the baton of their enigmatic conductor, Fredrick Holm, the orchestra presented a humorous and well-prepared selection of Christmas music. I will admit to not being ready for Christmas, but after this wonderful programme I certainly feel less Scrooge-like!


We were treated to a diverse range of music and soloists. It was inspiring to hear two "world premieres", especially at a time when the demise of young musicianship is regularly reported.


Daniel Slater’s cheeky, comical anduplifting arrangement of ‘Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo’ by Tommy Connor was received with great enthusiasm, especially as the arranger himself was the soloiston, of all instruments, the viola. It is so good to see and hear young musicians who have such a great passion and skill for music.


The WYO has two excellent resident harpists but a search for two-harps-and-orchestra pieces drew a blank. Holm's solution was to compose one himself and ‘A Christmas Celebration’ was duly and delightfully performed by Charlotte Salisbury and Evie Tomlinson. A feeling of peace and tranquillity crept over the audience, with thoughts of stars and frosty nights.


In true antithesis to winter,Imogen Banfield put aside her violin to give a stunning rendition of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. With a beautiful horn solo from Thomas Thorne, Imogen held the audience spellbound with her rich and velvety voice.


The overall programme was carefully selected with Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Prokofiev maintaining the twin themes of Christmas and having a good time. Malcolm Arnold’s little-known Toy Symphony, complete with various toy instruments, bells, whistles and kazoos was great fun.


Throughout the concert you could shut your eyes and forget that you were listening to a youth orchestra, such was the power and strength of the ensemble.


Linking it all together was John Julius Norwich's sardonic take on ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas (A Correspondence)' with members of the orchestra reading out one verse of the poem at a time between the pieces of music.


The evening began with a varied selection of "welcome music" from Joe Wilkinson on flute, Eleanor Cragg on violin and Debby Howrie, also on violin.


If you haven’t heard the Westmorland Youth Orchestra you are missing out! Their next concert is music based on Video Games on 7 March 2020 at Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale.


Saturday 29 June 2019, 7.30pm

A Musical Extravaganza

With Amabile Choir and Bellevue Youth Choir (from the USA) 

Kendal Parish Church

Tickets on the door or from

Friday 5 July 2019, 6.30pm

One Small Bird 

With local primary schools

Kendal Leisure Centre


The Westmorland Youth Orchestra at St. Mary’s Church, Ambleside

Saturday 9 March 2019

To be fair they had me at The Adventures of Robin Hood, Korngold’s score embodying the romance and swashbuckling of the film, the young orchestra capturing the joyous melodies and atmosphere exactly. The Westmorland Youth Orchestra’s romp through 100 years of movie music magic had many, many highlights. From the unusual, and brave opening of Scott Joplin’s ragtime classic The Entertainer, played on the harps by Charlotte Salisbury and Evie Tomlinson, to the witty melodic crescendo of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, these talented young musicians treated the audience to a selection of both well-known movie themes and lesser known delights.

For many in the audience, a standout moment among many highlights was the beautiful and melancholy ‘Prelude’from 49th Parallel conducted by clarinettist, Emma Ward. An inspired choice, the music, from this 1941 British wartime propaganda film, composed by Vaughan Williams, not generally known for his film scores, was lovingly rendered by the orchestra to an audience held spellbound by its beauty; a beauty clearly appreciated by those playing it.

Other highlights were a medley from John Williams’ The Empire Strikes Back which was almost faultless and followed by the quirky, popular ‘Cantina Band’ from Star Wars (1977), a virtuoso performance by Eddie Davies on saxophone, Edward Cooke on piano and Josh Lucas on bass. A medley from Bernstein’s West Side Story evoked the changing emotions of the songs from this tragic story. Mancini’s Pink Panther theme had the audience clicking their fingers along with the orchestra and the theme from Mission Impossible swept all along. These were not easy pieces and among the most challenging was the Symphonic Suite from The Lord of the Rings; The Two Towers conducted by Lord of the Rings fan Jenny Hucknall but the young musicians pulled it off.

Reminding us that film makers regularly plunder classical music Robert Hucknall treated us to a confident and polished movement from Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-Flat Major. Like many others in the orchestra, Robert introduced the piece and made a touching tribute to the skill of French Horn players of Mozart’s time.

We were welcomed by Jazz from Scratch with foot tapping tunes and the more delicate sounds of Eloise, Rachel and Florie, a flute/bassoon/guitar trio from Lancaster.

Mistakes ‘there were a few, but then again, too few to mention’ because what shone through this evening was the passion and joy these young people find in this music ably led and encouraged by their conductor, Frederick Holm and the section tutors.

Scott Joplin, The Entertainer          

Soloists: Charlotte Salisbury and Evie Tomlinson        

E.W. Korngold,The Adventures of Robin Hood 

W.A. Mozart, Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major, First movement                          

Soloist: Robert Hucknall         

Vaughan Williams, ‘Prelude’ from 49th Parallel

Conducted by Emma Ward

Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story 

Henry Manchini, Theme from Pink Panther   

John Williams, Medley from The Empire Strikes Back

‘Cantina Band’ from Star Wars     

Saxophone: Eddie Davies  Piano: Edward Cooke  Bass: Josh Lucas            

Lalo Schifrin, Theme from Mission Impossible            

Howard Shore, Symphonic Suite from The Lord of The Rings,:The Two Towers

Conducted by Jenny Hucknall

Klaus Badelt, A Medley from Pirates of the Caribbean:,The Curse of the Black Pearl                  

24 November 2018, Ullswater Community College

Dancing into Penrith

The Westmorland Youth Orchestra conquered new territory for its autumn concert, winning over a large audience at the Ullswater Community College in Penrith with some exhilarating solos and a lot of dance music. Our ever reliable Leader Alistair Burton and trumpeter Solomon Russell-Cohen shone in the Sibelius and Pakhmutova concertos respectively, clarinettists Emma Ward and Jenny Hucknall took turns with the baton and Fredrik Holm injected his usual energy into the whole team. There was a lot of interest from potential members from the school, as well as praise from the audience. “I must have spoken to at least 30 people, and every one was full of praise,” said one steward. “Absolutely well done,” wrote Simon Yeo, head of the Cumbria County Music Service. “It was a challenging programme which the young people tackled with enthusiasm; even when things were going a bit awry they were confident enough to follow Fredrik to pull it back together.”

And it was indeed a tremendously tough programme with dance music ranging from classical and modern ballet, through Scottish and Latin American dance music and the Parisian 19th century music hall to ABBA. There was plenty of rhythm and plenty of pace, especially after the interval. Arturo Marquez’ ever more popular Danzon No. 2 featured solos for clarinet, trumpet, flute, piccolo, piano and violin.  These days no WYO concert is without its innovation and this time it was programme notes on the pieces written by Fredrik, the soloists and player-conductors, who also spoke to introduce each piece to the audience.

The audience were put in the mood with Welcome Music on piano and harp performed by Charlotte Salisbury snf others. The mulled wine, mince pies and cakes served at the school’s Fred’s Bar before the concert also helped, as well as raising £90 for the Community College’s music department.

Heather Lowthian

Tchaikovsky, from the Nutcracker Suite:

Marche, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Russian Dance, Arabian Dance, Reed Flutes and Waltz of the Flowers

Sibelius, Violin Concerto 1st movement
Arnold, Four Scottish Dances

Offenbach, Can Can

Rodriguez, Danzon no 2

Pakhmotova, Trumpet Concerto

Stravinsky, Firebird Suite
Abba, Mamma mia, SOS, Dancing Queen                                                           

30 June 2018, Kendal Parish Church

Folk Evening

On arrival the audience was greeted by a lovely sequence of short pieces played by the string ‘feeder’ group. Fredrik Holm’s light-hearted welcome was followed by the energetic Vaughan Williams ‘English Folk Song Suite’ with some lovely woodwind solos. In contrast to this very English music was Piazzola’s ‘Libertango’ in which the syncopated rhythms were no problem to these players!

At the heart of the WYO’s most enjoyable concert were three remarkable pieces which displayed a dazzling array of talents: ‘Africa’, ‘Caprice in D’ and ‘Primo Itinere’. The first, written by Marshall McDonald, is a substantial work full of African rhythms, which were played with vigour and accuracy by the young percussionists of the orchestra, and haunting mantra-like melodies delivered by all sections. For this the orchestra was joined by the Lancaster U3A singers, also trained by WYO’s energetic and imaginative conductor Fredrik Holm. This was a strikingly successful collaboration of young and old.

‘Caprice in D’ was written by Alistair Burton, WYO’s leader, and is a sleazy, tongue-in-cheek jazzy piece with a lovely feel for orchestral colour and texture. ‘Primo Itinere’, written by clarinettist Jenny Hucknall and conducted by trumpeter Sol Russell-Cohen, is an imaginative and atmospheric piece with very English modal harmonies.

This encouragement of young composers and conductors is a wonderful initiative by WYO. The reception accorded these performances, along with the award to Alistair Burton for the most outstanding contribution to the orchestra in the last year, is evidence of WYO’s continuing success.

Ian Jones

R. Vaughan Williams English Folk Song Suite
A. Piazzolla  Libertango
M. McDonald Africa
A. Burton Caprice in D
J Hucknall Primo Itinere
J. Barnes   Variations on a Korean Folk Song
F. Mendelssohn Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
A. Dvorak Symphony No. 9 “From the New World”, 1st movement
H. Alfvén The Prodigal Son, Finale

17 March 2018, Queen Elizabeth School Kirkby Lonsdale

Youth Orchestra paints a Picture

The Westmorland Youth Orchestra’s spring concert – “Linking Music and Art” – fizzed with innovation and inventiveness on March 17 as new Musical Director Fredrik Holm’s revolution rolled on.

Images to illustrate the music were projected onto a large screen behind the 50 players, who wore bright-coloured tops; musicians stepped up to introduce each piece in their own words, while two of them took turns with the conductor’s baton.

The programme ranged effortlessly over almost four centuries, from 17th century France to Japanese computer game music, via British rock and American Jazz-inspired Gershwin.

One of the highlights was Holm’s own Premiere Rhapsody accompanied by a rolling projection of art from Cartmel, Milnthorpe and Moorside primary schools; pupils had listened to the work and painted what it suggested to them – stars, pollarded trees or just abstract shapes.

Coldplay’s Viva la Vida was accompanied by Frida Kahlo’s eponymous painting and sung confidently by percussionist Zamira Young-Andrade.

The 170-strong sellout audience, who braved a late winter blizzard to reach Kirkby Lonsdale’s Queen Elizabeth School, also loved Laura Braithwaite’s assured performance of a movement of a Mozart flute concerto.

Holm’s first concert last year was in the form of a quiz; his next, on June 30, will be inspired by folk music from around the world. Whatever else it is, it certainly won’t be dull.

Oliver Wates

Charpentier – Te Deum
Saint-Saëns – Danse Macabre
F. Holm – Premiere Rhapsody
Mozart – Flute Concerto in D Major
Coldplay – Viva la Vida
Gershwin – An American in Paris
Koji Kondo & Toru Minegishi – The Wind Waker Symphonic Movement
Mussorgsky – Movements from Pictures at and Exhibition

25 November 2017, The Lakes School, Windermere

“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

Copland Fanfare for the Common Man
Prokofiev Montagues and Capulets, Romeo and Juliet
Vivaldi Four Seasons (Soloists – Martin Greaves, Maciet Rzepczyk, Paddy Davies, Alistair Burton)
Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G minor
Verdi Triumph March
Handel Alla Hornpipe – Suite No. 2 in D major, Water Music
Mozart  2nd movement, Clarinet Concerto (Soloist – Ellie Moore)
Beethoven 1st movement, Symphony No. 5
Bizet Torreador, Carmen
J Strauss Radetzky March

1 April 2017, Coronation Hall, Ulverston

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

Grieg Homage March from Sigurd Jorsafar (1872)
Haydn Trumpet Concerto 1st Mvt. (1796) (Soloist – Abigail Howie)
Kern & Hammerstein Old Man River (1927) (featuring tubas Jack Mayer and Rosie Toms)
Delius Walk to The Paradise Garden
Svendsen Romance (1881) (Violin Solo – Alistair Burton)
Sibelius Kareila Suite, Mvts 2 and 3
Sibelius Valse Triste
Sibelius Finlandia

26 November 2016, Ambleside Parish Church

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

Praise from Simon Yeo, Head of Cumbria Music Hub

“I just wanted to congratulate everyone on such a splendid concert. It’s 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”

Barber  Violin Concerto, 1st Mvt. (solo violin Matthew Farren)
Shostakovich Waltz No. 2 for Jazz Suite
Barber Adagio
Bizet Farandole (from L’Arlesienne)
Saint-Saens The Elephant (from Carnival of the Animals)
Saint-Saens Bachanale (from Samson and Delilah)
Chabrier Espana
Borodin In the Steppes of Central Asia
Stravinsky Firebird Suite (Danse Infernale, Berceuse, Finale)

2 July 2016, Kendal Parish Church

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

J. B. Accolay (Belgian) Violin Concerto in A Minor (1868)  (soloist Abby Counsell)
A. Arutunian (Armenian) Trumpet concerto (1950)  (soloist Oliver Heath)
R. Vaughan Williams (English) Oboe Concerto 1st mvt (1944) (soloist Frances Lovell)
Edvard Grieg (Norwegian)Peer Gynt Suites (1876)
Giacomo Rossini (Italian) Overture to The Thieving Magpie (1817)

12 March 2016, Westmorland Hall, Kendal Leisure Centre

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 Kendal’s 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 Roland’s new piece and a selection of John Lanchbery’s ballet music written for the Beatrix Potter film of 1972.

There were many high points in this concert, one of which was the première of Roland’s 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

Grieg Anitra’s Dance from Peer Gynt
Khachaturian Sabre Dance, Embroidery of the Carpets
Gershwin Walking the Dog (solo flute – Lizzie Briggs)
Tchaikovsky Swan Lake Ballet Suite
Roland Fudge The Long Pursuit (Première)
Khachaturian Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia
Lanchbery Beatrix Potter Selection

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