Essex Symphony Orchestra Reg. Charity No. 1000732

Site last updated on 15 May 2020

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Our 2nd Young People’s Orchestral Workshop took place on Sunday 2nd February at St John Payne’s School in Chelmsford.

We had two sessions: in the morning a group of youngsters of Grade 1-3 ability, watched by parents and other family members, rehearsed and played ‘Toreador’ from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ and the 2nd movement of Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony; and in the afternoon more experienced players of Grade 4-5 standard played ‘Mars’ from Holst’s ‘Planet Suite’ and Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia’. We used the simplified arrangements produced by the BBC for their ‘Ten Pieces’ aimed at opening up the world of classical music to 7-14 year olds.

Both sessions were conducted by the ESO’s new professional conductor, Robert Hodge, who got adults and children alike to warm up with fun exercises and musical counting challenges before tackling the pieces themselves.

Everyone seemed to have a very good time! Orchestra members loved sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge with young players; parents enjoyed hearing how the music took shape and some admitted to being ‘moved’ and made ‘quite emotional’ by the music, overwhelmed by ‘the wall of sound’ the players created; and the youngsters all seemed to gain a lot from sitting amongst experienced players who could give them technical tips directly related to their instruments, help with counting and  general encouragement all the way, as well as experiencing the incredible big sound produced by so many players.

The ESO’s aim is to encourage young players to join orchestras themselves and to this end, parents were sent a follow up email full of information about local ensembles and orchestras that their children can join.

Feedback of the workshop from parents and players has been very positive:   

“…a fantastic workshop and he really enjoyed it – they were very kind and encouraging to him”

“He DEFINITELY wants to come back next year”

“She was made to feel very welcome …the event was pitched at the right level to be constructive but also quite informal and fun, and gave the children something to aspire to”

“…it was wonderful for family to be able to observe the process and hear the results”

We look forward to seeing everyone again next year!