On Wednesday 23rd March 2016 at 2pm the Ulster Orchestra welcomed Ulster Youth Orchestra members to an exclusive open rehearsal at the Ulster Hall, Belfast.
Administrator Ruth McCann and Ulster Youth Orchestra members were greeted by Lucy McCullagh, Director of Learning and Community Engagement with the Ulster Orchestra who brought them to front row seats in the choir stalls of the Ulster Hall where they would be given an exclusive insight as to how a professional orchestra and conductor work. This was quite a treat as renowned conductor Jac van Steen was to take the UO through Bach’s St John’s Passion before giving students the opportunity to ask him anything in a private question and answer session. It was clear Jac was delighted to have the young musicians in attendance as he engaged them throughout the rehearsal talking them through the music, explaining what he wanted from the orchestra and making sure UYO members felt involved in everything that was happening.
Jac gave valuable insights into the work he was doing with the orchestra throughout the rehearsal and it was clear the students were really relishing this opportunity to learn from Jac and the UO. 3:30pm arrived and it was time for UYO members to meet Jac and have their chance to ask him anything in a private question and answer session.
The young musicians quickly gathered in meeting room 5 eagerly awaiting Jac’s arrival. Jac spoke to the students for over twenty minutes answering their questions and taking time to tell them about his life, how he began to work in the field and the experiences he has had during his career. Students were given great advice and insights on issues concerning working in the field professionally and left feeling inspired as Jac spoke of the importance and power of music. This was a unique opportunity for the twelve young musicians of the Ulster Youth Orchestra to get to learn from such talented professional musicians in what proved to be a truly valuable and inspirational day.
Student feedback “It was great! I loved listening to the orchestra rehearse and Jac directing them.” “I thought they were both incredible! The standard of music was so high and the members of the orchestra are so talented. It is this hard work and dedication that has confirmed my belief that I too wish to be a musician.” “I learnt loads about the life of an orchestral player and what rehearsals are like. I also learnt a lot about the life of a conductor and about Jac in particular.” “The day was great” “Keep it going, these days are great for us to learn and improve our knowledge!” “The Ulster Orchestra were absolutely brilliant to listen to and I found it great the way that the conductor was so enthusiastic with involving those of us watching the rehearsal.” “I grasped a greater appreciation for the sheer concentration and commitment required to be a member of the Ulster Orchestra. I also took on board some of Jac van Steen’s tips for success in the music industry.”