It is a pleasure and a privilege to be the current holder of the RYO baton – the eighth conductor in the orchestra’s illustrious 60 year history. It was a joy to meet so many former members at the reunion in the August, some from the orchestra’s very earliest days.
One of the features that have characterised Reading Youth Orchestra throughout its existence is the determination of its members to achieve high standards and to have plenty of fun while doing so. Nowhere is this more in evidence than in the annual summer course, whether it involves a long and arduous journey to Italy to give three concerts in wonderful venues as in 2003, or the series of intensive rehearsals, interspersed with social activities more locally this year. The enthusiasm of the members and the musical results of all the hard work were there for all to see and hear at the 60th Anniversary in Reading’s Concert Hall.
Tim Hawken had led the orchestra for the past three years, and in this, his final concert, he gave a most sensitive and accomplished account of Dvorak’s Violin Concerto. This followed the rousing Festive Overture of Shostakovitch, and the orchestra finished up with a compelling performance of Borodin’s Second Symphony. Reading Youth Orchestra provides not only a training ground for some of tomorrow’s professional musicians, but also an opportunity for every youngster who plays an instrument to experience the delights of the orchestral repertoire and music-making of a high order.
Long may it continue!