17 January 2024
Woldingham musicians are encouraged to gain experience and develop their skills outside of school and Year 10 music scholars Bea and Rose have risen to the challenge as members of the South London Youth Orchestra (SLYO). At the start of January, violinist Bea and cellist Rose performed in an SLYO concert, following a week of study and rehearsal on the orchestra’s winter course, as they describe below.
Bea and Rose, Year 10
The South London Youth Orchestra comprises four orchestras, ranging from beginner to advanced. Meeting three times a year during school holidays, each orchestra spends a week together learning various compositions, with each course culminating in a concert.
On day one of the winter course, we were excited to find out which pieces we would be working on and to see our friends. Our orchestra is led by Jonathan Butcher, an engaging and enthusiastic conductor. Jonathan helps us connect with the music by sharing various anecdotes about the history of each piece and composer.
We spent the mornings in our respective sectional tutor groups, coming together in the afternoons as a full symphony orchestra to practise what we had learnt. The selection of compositions on this course, which we brought together for the final concert, were challenging and fun.
The concert began with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, a fast-paced piece using divisi - the division of a single section of chords into multiple subsections. For this piece, the violins were required to perfect the use of hooked bowing.
Next was Furiant, the third movement of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6, a spirited Bohemian dance in 3/4 time with syncopated rhythms and shifting accents.
The tempo and style changed somewhat for our third piece, Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel - an opera based on the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale of the same name. The score we played accompanies Act 2 Scene 3, where 14 angels guard Hansel and Gretel to protect them from the witch as they sleep. This arrangement comprises a vast number of semi breves and dotted minims, so the string section, particularly the cellos, have to exercise excellent bow control and accurate counting.
We ended with the iconic He's a Pirate, the main theme in the film franchise Pirates of The Caribbean, written by Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt. This is a really fun piece to perform as the orchestra plays in marcato - a strong accent - throughout. The score is divided into themes, with each beginning with an anacrusis - an upbeat. The melody rises and falls in pitch, and the pulse of the music sways like the sea, adding to the sense of adventure.
Our encore was the brilliant Galop Infernal, more widely known as the Can-can. The audience enjoyed clapping along and it was a fantastic and rousing way to end both the concert and our winter SLYO course.