Memories from former players, conductors and soloists
Jessica Beeston Leader of the EYO on Italian Tour 1999
I remember playing in an amphitheatre in Italy on a very warm night with lots of bright lighting. Everything was going very well until the orchestra was attacked by a swarm of big black insects! They flew around our heads and landed on music making it very difficult to read! We carried on though and I believe the concert was a success despite being attacked by a swarm of flies…
I also have many more general happy memories of playing in EYO, of being inspired by wonderful conductors, soloists and coaches to get the best out of the experience and ourselves.
EYO is where I learned never to be late for an orchestral rehearsal (unless you want to be very embarrassed!) and one Easter we had a competition to see who could eat the most cream eggs in a row – the winner ate 12 which still amazes me today!
Thanks for the wonderful memories and best of luck with the golden jubilee concert.
Andee-Louise Hypolite Former EYO soloist
I have wonderful memories of the 1999 Italian tour and I think of it often! I remember the long coach drives through beautiful countryside, the interesting hotels (although I think the management hated us!) performing in strange and wonderful venues – the Roman Amphitheatre sticks in my mind because I remember flapping away horrible mossies throughout the programme! The totally amazing churches (I remember saying in every place we visited that the Italians know how to build churches!) and all of the other examples of incredible architecture – the tower in Sienna and especially the Colosseum. I also loved the singing in the rain moment – the electricity building in the air, the smell of rain and the eventual storm – fab! I also recall listening to the orchestra playing Delius in the open air in Spoleto and feeling so lucky to be there listening to such talented musicians play so very beautifully.
I had such fun on that tour and was delighted to be asked to return to sing the Berlioz songs a year or two later. I genuinely feel proud to have been a part of EYO’s history and am glad to have all these memories with the soundtrack of some wonderful music.
Fraser Gordon Principal Contrabassoon, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
I think of all the great moments I’ve had with the EYO, one night of music comes to the fore over all others. It was on a tour with Chris Adey to Italy the summer I left school in 1999. During the second concert of the tour held outdoors in a square in Brescia it began to rain in the third movement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures. The music petered out disappointingly as players left the stage. BUT… In true EYO style, the concert went on.
I remember it like it was yesterday, with the audience helping to hold up a huge tarpaulin next to the cellos after the orchestra had moved beneath a huge stone staircase and cloisters in the square. They were crowded all around us, in amongst us, all the way up the staircase beneath which nestled the woodwind and my desk of the second violins! A large orchestra squeezed into such a teeny tiny space and the most incredible thunder and lightning storm going on above us. Rachmaninov’s 3rd symphony was more electric than the lightning. It is still one of the most incredible musical moments I have experienced ever.
Flautist 1998 – 99 and bass player 2003.
Now an astronomer at the University of Minnesota in the US
I have two very vivid memories from the tour in Italy. The first is when we played our concert in Fiesole and all the flying insects chose the start of the concert to hatch and swarm the stage. It was hard to avoid breathing those wee buggers in!
The second was a bit more pleasant – we were playing an outdoor concert in Brescia, and half way through it started to rain. We all had to run inside, and then we managed to get the orchestra set up again in the cloisters of the neighboring building, and we finished the concert with everyone crammed in. That was a pretty magic night!
Lots of other memories too that are probably best left unwritten 😉
Murray Oliver Trombone
My best memory is falling off the back of a stage riser in rehearsal during the tour of Sweden and Denmark in 1996. Currently living in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA and teaching as a full time faculty member Colorado State University and being a freelance trombone player and teacher.
Ellie Mayze Bass player on our European Tour 1993
The tension as EYO waited to hear what movement we would have to play for the final of the Vienna Youth & Music Competition; only beaten by the tension of waiting to hear if we had won best youth orchestra which we had!
Rosie BanksEYO cellist on our Eastern European Tour 1993
Earlier today I was hunting for something that I didn’t find, but I did find a programme from the 15th May 1993 Twelve Cellos of the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra Concert. It was to raise funds for the big European tour and I remember we did a few more concerts including a radio broadcast during the festival.
I loved those concerts and had forgotten what fun it was rehearsing and being totally stunned by how fantastic 12 cellos could sound. Klengel Hymnus was great. 12 individual parts.
The players were Debbie Forrest, Ailsa Burns, Andrew Wilkins, Douglas Badger, Pamela Johnston, Shelagh Fuller, Rosie Townhill, Angelica Reeve, Juliet Robb, ME!, Richard Benton, Andrew Rankin and Tim Paxton keeping us all in order.
I’m working as a cellist, mainly in London working for lots of orchestras including LPO, ENO, RPO and Glyndebourne Touring Opera.
Neil Butterworth Former Vice Chairman EYO on Sir Malcolm Arnold
The central European tour of the EYO in 1993 marked one of the truly significant events in the orchestra’s history. At the first concert in Munich we were greatly privileged to have Sir Malcolm Arnold conducting his own Scottish Dances. For all the players this was an overwhelming occasion; many had never seen a world famous composer in the flesh, and were spell-bound to be performing themselves one of his most popular works.
He remained a close friend of the orchestra thereafter, returning in the following year to conduct us in his overture ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ in the Usher Hall. As in Munich, he proved to be an authoritative inspiration and most sympathetic to the young musicians. On his final visit in 2001, he rehearsed the Scottish Dances for En Shao and the EYO tour of England. This was his last time that he ever conducted an orchestra. He was a Patron of the EYO until his death in 2006 at the age of 85.
Moray Rumney Former EYO Leader
EYO made its first foreign tour in 1983, its 20th year, to what was then West Germany. Coaches conveyed the orchestra to the continent via the Hull Rotterdam overnight ferry which with so much anticipation and high spirits did not involve much sleep! During the ten day trip we performed in eight different venues ranging from several highly appreciative small town venues to much larger places including Würzburg, Heidelberg, an outdoor stage at the Munich Olympic stadium and our final concert which was also outdoors in Bonn’s historic market square. Playing outdoors without amplification was a big challenge, particularly for our soloist Rosemary Eliot who played one of Mozart’s flute concertos, however the same piece played indoors at the Spa in Bad Tölz with its reverberant spaces was marvelous. The programme was varied including safe pieces like Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite as well as two Scottish elements with Malcolm Arnold’s traditional Scottish Dances and the very challenging “Bartok Games” by Ed Harper all under the baton of the inimitable Timothy Reynish.
Garry Walker Artistic Director EYO
Sadly, I only played in EYO once in 1991, which also happened to be Marjory’s first year. I remember it being a very good cello section, with real strength in depth.I also remember a chamber music evening concert, organised by the players, which seemed to finish in the early hours of the morning, so numerous were the items. I remember the audience (largely consisting of parents) being very patient, though I do recall over-hearing someone say that if it had gone on any later, they would have tried to set off the fire alarm! You can have too much of a good thing.
Epic games of football were played in the playground at Watson’s, a tradition which has now migrated to the greener and seemingless boundary-less pitches of the Meadows. It takes a whole new meaning to Jeux Sans Frontiers, particularly regarding issues of corners and goal kicks. Do they not teach Trigonometry at school anymore? We also did turn up to play a game without the one requisite item needed to play football;the clue is in the title of the game.
My memories of EYO courses as a conductor are too numerous to recount. Suffice it to say that searching the streets of Edinburgh for Patrick Kenny’s trombone which had been stolen during a football match on the Meadows (his father had in fact surreptitiously taken it to teach his son a lesson) was one of the extra-musical highpoints. It was like a scene out of a thriller, with various people despatched on foot in all directions whilst others scoured the streets with cars. If we had found some poor innocent person in the vicinity who happened to be carrying a trombone case with him, I hate to think what might have happened to him…… and subsequently to us.
The tours to Germany and Ireland were great fun. To play in the Gewandhaus and the National Concert Hall is always a joy and an honour. Mahler 1 and the Enigma Variations were other great experiences, and it has been wonderful to bring back as soloists various EYO Alumni, such as Philip Higham and Daniel Bell (who sat opposite me in the 1st violins the year I played in EYO).
May the memories continue in future, if that makes any sense!
Ian Dougal Former EYO clarinettist
Our Californian tour 1989
More than 100 of us set off from Prestwick Airport on the long journey to San Diego. As well as memorable concerts in some fantastic venues – under conductor Christopher Adey who was the EYO’s Musical Director for many years – there were many other happy memories from the tour around the Golden State. A visit to Sea World included a performance by a brass ensemble, and the then Chairman Sheriff Nigel Thomson being presented with a Wild West Sheriff’s badge which he wore with great good spirit, to everyone’s amusement. Disneyland and the Greyhound buses which gave us a window on the Californian scenery as we travelled to San Francisco, Monterey, La Jolla, Carmel and eventually Los Angeles, were also highlights of the tour. Staying with the American families who were kindly hosting the orchestra members helped to give us all an overall experience to remember for the rest of our lives.
Lis Dooner Flautist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra
I don’t think I was a founder member of EYO……think I was in it in either ‘67 or ‘68. Lovely memories of Geoffrey Gilbert, David Nicholson and Sibelius symphony 1 and a cello concerto with Moray Welsh.
Tim Reynish Former EYO conductor
I remember telling a slightly risqué story about a little green man from Mars. The next day was April 1st, I was mysteriously smuggled in to rehearsal behind a screen; when it was removed there was the entire orchestra, dressed in green
Diana Cathrine Former EYO Leader
I particularly remember playing Symphony Number 5 by Shostakovich with Tim Reynish conducting and thoroughly enjoying the musical elements which his wonderful conducting drew out of the orchestra.
We had rehearsals on April Fools Day and turned all our seats round the wrong way in our sectional rehearsal so when our coach,Peter Mountain, came in we all had a good laugh!
When we played to the Queen for her Silver Jubilee Celebrations, at the Kings Theatre, it was a great occasion and I was presented to the Queen after the concert, which was very memorable and an honour!
EYO is a wonderful opportunity to play in a large symphony orchestra.It was a stepping stone to other youth orchestras which led to me being a founder member of European Union Youth Orchestra and also playing in the International Youth Orchestra.
This led into my performing career playing in many orchestras and chamber groups including the Scottish Ensemble and then it naturally progressed into my current career teaching violin.
Alex Laing Former EYO Leader
There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for the EYO
I was lucky enough to lead the orchestra for 4 years and have many memories including an amazing Scandinavian tour. However, the strongest memories are of the musicians I worked with – all of whom have inspired me as a player, an educator and now an orchestral coach, director and conductor myself. I had a long and productive association with Hilary Davan Wetton. His rehearsals were always hugely fun as well as musically exacting.
The most powerful experience I had with the EYO is still one of the most important moments in my life. We were in the Queens’ Hall playing Brahms 4 with James Loughran. He emerged for the symphony with no score. The feeling of incredible trust that he had for us to do this piece from memory was such a powerful force that I do not remember looking at my own part once and just played it all directly from him. At the end of the concert I felt completely drained in a very profound way and I have been searching for similar feelings ever since. They do happen occasionally. Thank you EYO.
Former EYO soloist and Head of Keyboard Studies at Chetham’s School of Music
Such happy memories of working, touring, laughing and joking with Marj in charge, En Shao, and the amazingly talented Edinburgh Youth Orchestra! First in Rach 2 at the Queen’s Hall and Henry Wood Hall in Edinburgh and Glasgow (the former broadcast in its entirety on Classic FM) then with the exciting, rarely heard Eddie Gregson concerto for Piano and Wind at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and again at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall. What is amazing about these young musicians is that none of them are full time conservatoire music students, yet they always play like proverbial angels- even if at times they are certainly far from angelic (post concert Edinburgh Youth Orchestra parties are a time when they certainly let their hair down!). Marjory is totally indefatigable- a genius hand not only at organisation but also at publicity. She instils great authority over everyone from the youngest players through to the soloist and conductor- yet is loved and admired constantly. Long may the orchestra continue to flourish – a professional standard body of young people who are always welcoming, fun to be with and extremely adaptable to all kinds of musical challenges.
Former member of the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Leader (starting later this year) of the Essen Philharmonic
Happy Birthday EYO! My years in the orchestra will always stay with me as an important part of my musical upbringing. I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for the inspiration of playing in the various youth orchestras in Edinburgh and around Scotland, I probably wouldn’t be a professional musician today. My time in the EYO also coincided with Marjory Dougal’s first year in charge, and it’s been great to see how the orchestra thrived and evolved under her energetic guidance. The chance to perform as soloist with the orchestra in 1997, 2002, and 2010 was the perfect way to stay in contact with the orchestra, and I greatly appreciated those opportunities. Long may it all continue!
Carol Main Formerly Director of NAYO and now Director of Live Music Now
One of the international highlights of the NAYO Festival of British Youth Orchestras at Central Hall in Tollcross was often EYO’s International Youth Orchestra. Bringing together instrumentalists from a number of European countries, not always the same ones, young musicians were able to share and learn about each other’s cultures through making music together. Lifelong friendships were formed, new opportunities were opened up and fresh perspectives shed on a wide range of orchestral repertoire. Most memorable was Górecki’s Symphony No 3, the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, a rarely heard piece for orchestra with solo soprano, and deeply felt with EIYO’s Polish singer performing in her native language, with conductor Rafal Delekta.
Hilary Davan Wetton Former EYO Conductor, Principal Conductor City of London Choir, Associate Conductor London Mozart Players
I remember many enjoyable occasions with the EYO, but the highlight for me was certainly the Scandinavian Tour. Jens Hogel helped to guide us round Copenhagen, and we had a splendid concert in the Tivoli Gardens auditorium which was broadcast on Danish radio. A substantial win on one of the fruit machines in the Gardens after the concert added lustre to my evening!
Later in the tour we had a remarkable concert at Dalhalla in Sweden. It was a tradition that the conductor was rowed to the podium by two strapping Swedish ladies in national dress; since I cannot swim this was quite a taxing experience for me but happily all ended well. The EYO players were always delightfully open and friendly; my final concert with an international orchestra including a group of very fine Estonian string players underlined that outward looking quality which has been such a feature of Marjory Dougal’s management. Long may the Orchestra continue to flourish.