Stage beckons for region's gifted young musicians - The Rugby Observer

Stage beckons for region's gifted young musicians

Rugby Editorial 30th Dec, 2023   0

GIFTED young musicians from Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull will take to the stage with The National Youth Orchestra (NYO) when it concludes its mini-tour at the Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday January 6.

The orchestra’s new 2023-24 cohort, made up of 158 teenage musicians from across the UK, will perform music by Debussy and Strauss – along with a brand-new work by Dani Howard, written specially for NYO’s brass and percussion sections – conducted by Sir Mark Elder.

Joining the orchestra for the very first time are 13-year-old violinist Joshua Yin Zen Tan from Stratford and viola player Theadora Griffiths, 17, from Coventry.

They are joined by more seasoned local performers, 17-year-old clarinettist Gemma Winfield from Solihull who is now in her second year with NYO, alongside 17-year-old cello player Andrew O’Reilly from Kenilworth and 16-year-old trumpeter Christopher Gibson from Rugby, who are both entering their third year with NYO.

On his reasons for joining the NYO, King Edward VI School student Joshua said: “NYO’s mission to open up classical music for the current and next generation really speaks to me.

“From personal experience, I worry that the future of classical music is quite uncertain – having listened to some of my friends’ playlists!.

“However, I fervently believe that the value of classical music is no less than it was several hundred years ago, and this drives me to want to play my part in contributing to keep it relevant for my generation and beyond.”

Christopher’s musical journey began with the the recorder at a pre-school Saturday music group, and began playing the cornet in a group at school.

He said: “My first teacher made a huge impact on me, involving me in brass bands. I played many times a week and think this was where my love for ensemble playing began.”

Theadora, who started playing the cornet at the age of five, said: “The two pivotal environments in which my music has grown are The Purcell School and the Chineke! Junior Orchestra. They have given me opportunities I couldn’t imagine without them, such as touring Europe as an orchestra, playing at the Southbank, and going on outreach projects to other schools.”

Andrew said he always wanted to play the cello since he was little.

He added: “One of my biggest influences from an early age was being part of such a musical family. Now, being able to play chamber music together whenever we feel like is something I’ll forever be grateful for.

“Ultimately, I just want to share music with as many people as possible and bring the listener as much joy as I get from playing it.”

Gemma first played the clarinet in 2012 shortly after starting the recorder.

She said: “I am widely involved in the music department at school, in chamber ensembles, choir, sinfonia and concert band. As the only recorder player in my school, I have been working with my head of woodwind to promote music.

“I have performed to the primary school students with the hope of inspiring them to pick up an instrument and become more involved in the musical world.”

A NYO spokesperson said: “With music education described in recent years as being in a ‘perilous state’ by the Musicians’ Union, through concerts such as these NYO seeks to champion the profound impact that orchestral music can have upon the lives of teenagers. It’s more important than ever that young people have opportunities to learn instruments and experience the transformative power of playing together.”

Visit for more information or to book tickets, which are free for teenagers.


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