Northern Ireland’s award winning and dynamic national youth orchestra celebrates success of online course and releases ambitious lockdown recording.

October 1, 2020
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March 18, 2021

Northern Ireland’s award winning and dynamic national youth orchestra celebrates success of online course and releases ambitious lockdown recording.

The Ulster Youth Orchestra was established in 1993 and is regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of the local arts scene with a reputation for excellence in all its activities and performances. Over the years, hundreds of young musicians have had the opportunity to study with international conductors and some of the finest professional musicians and many alumni have gone on to pursue highly successful music careers. 

When it became apparent in March 2020 that its annual residential course and concerts were not going to be possible due to Covid-19 restrictions, the board and management were determined to offer their young members a valuable and enjoyable experience and enthusiastically embraced the new challenge of a ten-day online course.  Very soon, one residential course and two public concerts were replaced with over 50 online musical activities and 14 recordings! By the beginning of the project on 16th August 70 young musicians, aged between 14 & 23, had signed up for the first virtual course in 27 years of UYO history. 

 A highly experienced team of 12 professional tutors and 8 young professional assistant tutors delivered a mixture of interactive rehearsals, classes and talks on a wide range of topics.  In the evenings the orchestra relaxed with the entertainments team who kept them laughing with quizzes, a pizza night and even a game of bingo! 

The highlight of the course was the appearance of Daniele Rustioni, well known as the Ulster Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, who directed and encouraged the 70 young musicians in an ambitious recording of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet’s Fantasy Overture, recorded separately at home on phones and tablets and carefully stitched together by producer Tom Wall from TWPost. 

The Ulster Youth Orchestra is delighted and very proud to release the recording to the public. 

Paula Klein, UYO General Manager, said, “I am so proud of what everyone has achieved – the professionals and the students entered into this project with an open mind and great enthusiasm and the success of the course and the recordings has exceeded our expectations.”

The students and their families had this to say, 

“After so much disappointment with all musical activities being cancelled over the summer, UYO really came to the rescue in our home. Nothing can replace the ‘face to face’ experience, but the course was a joy from beginning to end.”

“I really didn’t know what to expect – but it surpassed all expectations! It was the real sense of togetherness that you managed to achieve online that amazed me.” 

“The Ulster Youth Orchestra has turned my quarantine from foe to friend!” 

All of the young musicians’ recordings can be found on the Ulster Youth Orchestra’s YouTube channel, website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

The Ulster Youth Orchestra is indebted to its Principal Funder, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and to The Leche Trust, Belfast Cathedral Sit Out and The Rev W N Monteith Charitable Trust for their support.  The Orchestra is also indebted to Glandore for the generous loan of one of their offices in Arthur House in Belfast for the duration of the course.   

Special thanks to audio and visual producers Tom Wall and Michael Kielty for their dedication to the quality of the recordings.

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