Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Post-it Note Feedback - Part One

Having returned from a bit of a holiday after the course, I’ve been reading through the post-it notes that were completed by audience members throughout the concert tour. I hope you enjoy reading a small sample of the fantastic comments posted about NYOW 2011 (including some rather bias but totally deserving comments from family members!).

Feedback comments from Lampeter:
  • Never fails to amaze me! With 1 week of rehearsals what you all can produce - Amazing! Congratulations to you all.  Can’t wait for Saturday.
  • Feather to the Mountain – magical, transporting, otherworldly. Liszt was lovely and just drew you in. Prokofiev was rousing, joyful, electrifying, charged with power. Cheryl – San Francisco, California
  • Perfformiad Gwefreiddiol! Absolutely cracking! (especially Cellos)
  • Marvellous. Everyone in tune. Orchestra should be proud of their achievements.  Jonny Burton – Mature student in Ancient Greek of University Summer School, Lampeter
  • Cerddoriaeth hyfrydol.  Diolch yn fawr!
  • It cost me £60 and 3 points to get here and it was worth it.
  • Thank you for bringing such wonderful music to Lampeter yet again!  It has been a privilege to hear your rehearsals over the course of the week.  Come back soon.  Mair – Lampeter
  • Fabulous performance. So exciting to watch.  Perfformiad cyffrous iawn! Da iawn chi! Cellos yn Wych!
  • Very good sound.  Fantastic percussion especially timps in the symphony.  Head of trumpets very good.
  • I thought you guys were amazing.  The conductor is superb!  Really enjoyed the concert, well the first half anyway.  Look forward to second half. Dolly
  • My heartfelt thanks to the NYOW for a wonderful performance of ‘Feather to the Mountain’ - Hilary Tann
Feedback comments from Wrexham:
  • A privilege to have heard such wonderful playing. Congratulations to the orchestra for Prokofiev.
  • So proud to be an ex member of the NYOW. So proud of the current orchestra – a fabulous concert tonight in Wrexham. The woodwind were excellent of course! (As was everyone else). This brought back so many happy memories.    Irene
  • What a wonderful evening, such high standard.
  • Fabulous, I wish I could play like that.
  • Super! Youth Orchestra? Never - more like professional. Best of luck for the rest of the tour.
  • Incredible performance, very high standard, beautiful.
  • Inspirational. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to listening to you again. Truly wonderful.
  • The double bass section was really strong and the back desk showed particular flare.
  • Concert was amazing from 1st to last, never seen so many in an orchestra. Well done from Italy
  • Ardderchog
  • Cyffrous iawn! Llongyfarchiadau i bobl ifanc
  • I am in shock. Not quite on the ground - this was an historic event. 

Monday, 15 August 2011

We're setting off to Cardiff (slightly delayed post!)

We're setting off to Cardiff this morning in the last of our coach journeys for the 2011 Tour for our final gig, and it seems as good a time as any for a bit of reflection on what has been another memorable Nash course.

When people (especially young musicians with NYOW ambitions) ask me about the Nash, my answer is usually worthy of Tolkien. So many tales and stories: the Lampeter pipe challenge, the ingenious DIY fancy dress costumes, the Double Bass section Cabaret acts, Davros our head of Welfare who seemingly can't go upstairs, the Nash Quiz, the personalities that make the Nash the social orchestra that it is.... and that is before you even mention the great repertoire, the brilliant instrumental tutors, the great players and principals, the world class halls, festivals and international conductors. When I've finished telling them about it, they usually seem a little overwhelmed; captivated by the mythical legend. They're probably wondering how much of it I've exaggerated or made up, but when they finally make it here themselves as my two Wrexham Bass protégés Kate Jones and Alissa Andrews did this year, they realise that everything I said was true, a Nash course really is that incredible, that enjoyable and that unforgettable.

This year is no different. We had an unusual rendition of the Mexican Hat Dance by the Bass Section for Cabaret, some incredible 'Feather' themed costumes including a bed, some native Americans, Fezes, CBBC's Raven and his Challengers, Angry Birds and Sesame Street's Big Bird. There was some Nash Quiz controversy over a disputed winner and this year's new ice breaker treasure hunt also proved entertaining. We also had the age old unofficial awards, a wonderful evening dining with our section for Tutors' night and the challenge of Prokofiev's epic 5th Symphony. Another first this year was Best Newcomer Award winner and all round legend, Maestro Yuasa; who's wink to me at the end of the final movement last night was his way of expressing his satisfaction with our performance.

Although only a brief tour this year, we've really made the most of it. Playing in my two home towns of Wrexham and Manchester (where I'm at University) were highlights, as was returning to the visually and acoustically stunning hall at The Sage Gateshead.

But alas we've arrived at our final destination, our final gig, our final performance with the Maestro, on our final day. The last concert always has been and will be one of mixed emotions. Relief that some sleep and a change of clothes is in sight, sudden awareness that a fortnight has just passed you by and that the course is nearly over, a slight longing for home, realisation that your time with the best orchestra and conductor you've worked with is almost up, relief that there are no more coach journeys, but a little upset that you probably won't see all the friends you've made again for another 12 months. And then there's the post-nash blues, but that's testament to how amazing the course is.

It has truly been another memorable year; another great Nash course. What would we all do with our summer without it?

Dan Evans, Principal Bass

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

1st Violins

It's the day of our first concert, after just over a weeks worth of rehearsals (including some extra "1st violin only" practices!).

last night was Cabaret, so we're all a bit tired. As we were the one of the only sections that participated we were all feeling very proud of our Mozart/Bond performance....... But then we won the worst section award after failing the challenges!

We've had a great week including a 1st Violin Curry and a lovely back to normal tutor's dinner.

A massive thank you to our tutor Adrian - you're amazing!

the 1st Violin sections

Monday, 8 August 2011

Manager's update

We've now spent a week in Lampeter, the weather has been changeable, as has the food! One thing that has been a constant is the eagerness of the Orchestra to learn from the excellent Maestro Takuo Yuasa.

Maestro arrived on course Thursday afternoon and quickly discovered he'd left his MacBook at Glasgow Airport security and the key to his luggage at home! After a phonecall to Glasgow and breaking into his luggage, he spent the evening listening through the door to the Orchestra's last rehearsal before he took over the following morning.

His immediate thoughts were that the horns and brass were too far apart, a casual comment in the SU Bar which led to our stage manager, Welfare Team, me and Maestro himself going into the hall at 10pm and changing the layout - something to keep the Orchestra on its toes the following morning!

From the start of the rehearsal he had the Orchestra hanging on his every word. His first comment as he took his ear plugs out was that he was very sensitive to "loud noise and bad intonation", a comment met with a nervous laughter, universal readjustment of posture and the widening of eyes. It was an excellent first day's rehearsal and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive since.

The annual tutor's dinner is a 'Nash' tradition, an opportunity for the members to get dressed up and sit for a meal with their section tutor and thank them for the hard work put in and advice given. It is also an opportunity for the course awards to be handed out. That is news for a separate Blog, but all were of course richly deserved and congratulations to all.

Since then the emphasis of the morning and afternoon rehearsals has been very much preparing fully for the concert tour. Maestro demands a lot of the Orchestra, but the members are keen to please him and are responding positively and professionally. In the evenings members of the Orchestra have been involved in various musical activities. Someone have been involved in woodwind and brass chamber sessions, the majority have played through two Beethoven symphonies. Jonathan Mann, former leader of the NYOW returned to Lampeter last night for a rehearsal of the 6th Symphony, and this evening Steffan Morris, principal cello is taking orchestra members through the 7th.

Later this evening, the members hold the Cabaret night - a chance for everyone to show a different side to ther talents and for the 'unofficial awards' to be given out. I'm sure a good night will be had by all! Tomorrow the Orchestra will perform an informal concert at Lampeter University before heading off on tour on Wednesday. I can't wait to see this year' orchestra in performance - it's going to be special!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Day 4 - 18th Birthday celebrations!

Day 4
What a day, my 18th birthday on the Nash course. After waking up and walking to the refectory, I was greeted by the typical 50 part choir ‘Happy Birthday’ chant from my other half asleep colleagues of the orchestra. After rehearsing the Liszt and Prokofiev in the morning, we were all introduced to our conductor for the remainder of the course, maestro Takuo Yuasa. I think I can speak for most of the orchestra in saying that we instantly liked him and realised what a musician he is. After having a productive full run of our programme, I changed quickly to gather with the rest of the brass section for our annual sectional curry. I quickly realised that I could actually buy myself a drink, and took full advantage of this. The curry was absolutely amazing – the best I’ve had so far. For a good curry, the Shapla Tandoori in Lampeter is ‘ThePlaice to Be’ (people from Bangor will understand ;) ). Thanks to the welfare staff for the trumpet inspired birthday cake – this was shared with the brass and horn sections. Upon my return to the Students Union bar back at the college campus, I learned that another ‘Happy Birthday’ chanting spree happened before I arrived, but in about 30 different languages!! A few drinks then ended a memorable day.
Thank you everyone from NYOW for a great day!!
Gwyn Owen (Trumpet)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Day 3 - Trombone Section

Wednesday 3rd August - 13:11, Lampeter
As we sit under the blazing sun on this pleasant Tuesday afternoon, the grey clouds and rain that greeted us on our arrival Monday seem firmly in the distant past. The lovely weather is helping to maintain the high spirits and keen optimism of this year's trombone and tuba section which is still in a chirpy mood despite spending the morning with the uncouth trumpet section.

The trumpets joining us for tutelage from Nash veteran John Hendy, due to the absence of the indisposed tutor Gareth Small, were introduced to a few of the trombone section traditions. The routine section raffle immediately caused a few problems for the mathematically challenged trumpets, who struggled to grasp the concept of a 20 pence bet. The famous joke competition also proved tricky for the trumpets who were pushed to (as John had requested) “keep it clean”. The trombones on the other hand were naturally able to come out with good, unobjectionable humour suitable for the whole family….
On a more serious musical note, the benefits of spending the morning with the trumpets working on creating a homogenous orchestral brass sound were very fruitful. At this point we’d like to extend a special thank you to john for all the time and effort he has spent whipping us into shape. Meanwhile, throughout full orchestra rehearsals, progress is evident, a sign that the great investment of sectional tutoring is paying off. We look forward to this evening’s annual quiz, where last year’s unlikely champions hope to retain their title.
We leave you now with a question posed in this morning’s sectional; “What’s brown and sticky?”….
Posted by the Lower Brass Section of Matthew Horne, Jake Durham, Thomas Scaife, Aled Rees and Thomas Howells.

A report from the Welfare Staff

It's the third day of the NYOW course (the fourth day for us Welfare Staff) and the breaking news is that the sun is actually shining in Lampeter for a change. Sectional and full rehearsals are progressing well and the new members of the orchestra have intergrated into the group really well. The inaugural Welfare Team Challenge event, which took place after last night's full rehearsal, was a great success. Lewis' team emerged victorious, despite being deducted 25 points for cheating! This morning Matt, Chris and Lewis have been putting the final touches to the legendary NYOW quiz which takes place tonight, while the girls enjoy the sun! There are some other fun activities planned for the week ahead that we're really looking forward to. We'll keep you posted! Gemma, Celi, Charlotte, Matt, Chris & Lewis (Welfare Team)    

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Day 2 - The Percussion Section

Hi, we are the cerpussionists. Today, to break the repetition of rehearsing the pieces, we spent a whole two hours in a cymbal masterclass. This was a good relaxing session that allowed us to get over our tiredness. It also made us realise how we all play in ‘interesting ways. For instance, Paul sticks his backside out, Alun prays to the cymbal god, Mike looks like a dunce, Rich looks moody (as always), Phil looks as if he’s about to fall asleep and Will is boring. This year, we have enjoyed integrating our two new members of the section, Alun and Mike, with Paul, Will, Phil and Rich. We are looking forward to the night ahead as we hear it involves a treasure hunt. This will consist of getting to the sweets before Mike, who is currently drooling over KitKats.

New Members Welcome

There are forty two new members of the NYOW in 2011. On the first evening they were officially welcomed by their section principals.
 1st Violins - Katie Schmidt, Lucy Noden, Meghan Evans, Lydia Marshall (Leader of NYOW), Rachel Parry

 2nd Violins - Ruth Dingle, Georgia Williams, Thomas Congdon, Oliver Feng, Huw Jones, Rebecca Hobbs, Eranan Thirumagan, Noel Au-Yeung, Daire Roberts, Olivier Jago, Kiril Gianelli, Harriet Lawton (Principal), Ruth Reynolds

Violas - Elin Parry (Joint Principal), Natalie Evans, Amie Gronow, Lucy Jones-Angove, Bridget Mansfield, Angharad Thomas (Joint Principal)

Cellos - Carwyn Jones, Saran Davies, Steffan Morris (Principal), Jacob Owen, Oliver Irving

Double Basses - Alissa Andrews, Hayley Morgan, Daniel Evans (Principal), Kate Jones

 Flutes - Ashleigh Powell, Rebecca Griffiths (Principal), Caradog Jones

Oboes - Bethany Elliott (Joint Principal), Adam Bowman, Myfanwy Price (Joint Principal)

Clarinets - Rhodri Taylor (Joint Principal), Bethan Edwards, Sam Turton (Joint Principal)

Bassoons - Jonathan Davies (Principal), James Ralph-Hopkins

Horns - Sophie Lewis, Rupert Browne (Principal), Maximillian Boothby, Gareth Owen

Trumpets - Samuel Pierce, Matthew Williams (Principal)

Trombones - Matthew Horne (Principal), Thomas Scaife, Jake Durham

Percussion - Alun McNeil-Watson, Paul Stoneman (Principal), Michael Olivier

Amy Bradley - Piano, Harps - Marged Hall (Principal), Rhiain Dyer

Welfare Team - Celi Johnston, Lewis Gibbs, Charlotte Jones, Gemma Jones, Chris Williams (New Member), Matthew George

Monday, 1 August 2011

NYOW lauches it's new Blog

As NYOW 2011 begins, I welcome all current members and tutors to Lampeter for what I am sure will be a fantastic couple of weeks of music making in celebration of our 65th year.

In addition to our seasoned campaigners we have 42 new orchestra members, 2 new members of the tutorial team, one new member of Welfare Staff, and a new Conductor.

We have registered all members, had meetings galore and now we're down to the serious business of preparing the music. Sectionals are underway and the first tutti rehearsal starts at 7.

Welfare and management are on day two at Lampeter having spent yesterday preparing for the members arrival, and are slowly but surely overcoming the various technological obstacles that have been put in our way. We are now online and are looking forward to progressing our Social Media explorations through the NYOW Facebook site and our brand new blog.

Unfortunately the only problem is the weather - great for ducks, not so great for the course, fingers crossed it will improve!