Apr 272016
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A NOTE-able Experience

During the Spring holidays, Aarti Rangarajan, Ben Brandreth and I participated in the annual Arabian Youth Orchestra Course. The Orchestra is made up of young musicians across the Middle East, still at school and above Grade 6 level. The course lasted for a total of seven days and was hosted at Dubai College. At the end of the course, two concerts were held, one at Dubai College and one at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi.

It was an excellent experience for all of us and a great opportunity to improve our orchestral playing and technique. This year, the orchestra accompanied guest soloist, Lisa Milne, who came from England to sing. Also, we were very privileged to be conducted by the famous Peter Stark, who provided extra support and helped us put the concert repertoire together.


Each day, we were split into groups for small sectional and large sectional rehearsals. Each section was assigned a tutor who would help us to improve our playing, as well as the pieces selected for the concerts that we received prior to going to Dubai. This year, the lower brass section, which included me as the only tuba player, was fortunate to be taught by Mr Andrew Berryman from Abu Dhabi, who made the rehearsals fun and educational. He taught us techniques and exercises that would help us improve our playing in general, and also could be applied during our rehearsals as a full orchestra. This was very helpful. The sectionals also provided us with direct feedback that allowed us to improve quickly.

In addition, we would have full orchestra rehearsals, which Peter Stark conducted. These gave us the opportunity to hear other parts and allowed us to work together as a group of over 80 young musicians. These were often the longest rehearsals, however, they were crucial to make the pieces come alive.

On the first of April, we had our first concert in Dubai. This was quite nerve-racking! Playing in front of a large, appreciative audience was a great way to help us build confidence. The second concert was held at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi in a much bigger hall. This was, in my opinion, the best performance. Both concerts were streamed live on Facebook, which allowed more families and friends the chance to hear the performances.

Overall, the course, although challenging, was extremely beneficial and fun! The atmosphere at AYO was incredible – everyone was so focused and friendly! All of the teachers were very helpful and made the experience more enjoyable!

I would love to be a part of AYO in the future as I have learned and improved so much! It was also a great way to meet new people and make new friends. I would highly recommend the course to anyone who is at the required standard and who has a passion for music! Thank you, Mr Holman, for suggesting this trip, it was great! ~ Zoe Lascelles-LLoyd