Friday, 16 September 2011

Manager runs ½ Marathon for Orchestra – what was he thinking?!?

So as some will know, I decided (possibly in a moment of weakness) last spring that in order to try and raise some funds for the NYOW I would run the Cardiff Half Marathon. How hard could it be I asked myself, it’s not like it’s a full marathon and a 10k just sounds a bit, well, feeble. Besides, I play squash and touch rugby and so I’m generally fairly fit – it should be alright.
Well after a few months training my conclusions are:
1) 10k is not feeble at all; it’s still a long way and would have been much easier to pull off
2) Turns out that the short bursts of speed required to play squash and rugby don’t really prepare you for the rigours of long distance running with the stamina and mental toughness required
3) I’m very glad I didn’t decide to do a full marathon
As far as the training has gone, it started off pretty well; a couple of leisurely runs with colleagues from the WJEC made me think that this was completely do-able. I downloaded an app for my iPhone that would tell me my total distance, time taken and average speed – it was all great fun. However, after the first use the stats were a little disheartening. 3.5 miles in 40 minutes, whilst not atrocious, was no way near to the kind of speed I would need over 13.1 miles to complete the race within my own target of 2 hours – it was time to ramp up the training.
Unfortunately as soon as I’d decided this the summer residency arrived. My intentions were good, I was fully prepared to go for a number of runs during a fortnight in the beautiful surroundings of Lampeter. However, I managed the grand total of..... 1, and that was only a short one at just over 3 miles (although there was a very large hill!).
Since then I’m happy to say that training has been going a lot better. I’m gradually working up to decent distances in decent times – last run was 8.6 miles with an average speed that would bring me in under the 2 hour mark.
There is still a long way to go and the date (16th October 2011) is getting ever closer. I’m determined to beat the aching muscles and ankles as well as the blisters on nearly every toe and get at least one 13 mile run completed before the day. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
In the meantime, if you want to sponsor me – my fundraising page is below, to coin a supermarket slogan – ‘every little bit helps!’:

Thursday, 15 September 2011

'Post-it' Note Feedback, St David's Hall 2011

Here is the final instalment of our 2011 ‘Post-it Note’ feedback, just a small selection of some fantastic and well deserved comments. There are some poignant messages in light of the violence in the UK during the week.
  • An excellent concert, was proud of every member – just compare your standards: of musicianship, self esteem, confidence, power of concentration, team work etc and compare your personal skills with the lunatics who trashed Britain last week.  Well done all. Tony Small
  • Absolutely brilliant – enough said.
  • Swn Aruthrol.  Roedd hi’n pleser clywed grwp roedd yn gweithio mor dda gydai gilydd.  Roedd y Prokoviev yn wych.
  • A super concert.  Very professional and of a very high standard.  Excellent choice of music that could be enjoyed by everyone. Garry Keeble
  • Lovely choice of pieces and beautifully performed.  Loved the conductor!
  • Extremely enjoyable.  The communication between every section of the orchestra produced a very tight performance with everyone working as one unit.  Well done.
  • This is the first time I have been to see the NYOW, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely come again next year.
  • Lovely programme! How about a pre-concert talk from conductor/principal players?  Fantastic Prokofiev – brilliant playing from Horn 1, Oboe 1 and Flute 1.
  • Absolutely amazing concert – so much wonderful, young talent.  An absolute inspiration to us all and a credit to all your hard work.  (well done Jamie on Bassoon)
  • Wow! Excellent – better than professionals.
  • Well done. I wish I had auditioned again – you sounded amazing!
  • The pieces enabled the whole orchestra to participate to their full potential.  Very high standard of performance.  Most enjoyable.  Fantastic viola solo – made her auntie cry.
  • Awesome.  Oliver we are very proud of you!
  • Rhaglen gyffrous wedi’i pherfformio’n wych.  Llongyfarchiadau.
  • Ardderchog – Excellent!  I found it hard to believe that the performers are all so young.  Very accomplished and a very ambitious program for a youth orchestra.  Thank you – diolch!
  • What a wonderful evening.  So great to see such talent especially this week of violence and despair – to see youth united in this way – here to the future. Grandparents of James Ralph-Hopkins
  • The Violas rock and the 2nd Violins! A fantastic accomplished performance.  Thank goodness we know where our children are tonight and long live the NYOW for giving future generations a chance!
  • Under Yuasa’s clear, unfussy direction, the NYOW play with a high degree of assurance and commitment.  Well done – class of 2011.
  • First piece unfamiliar to me, but played with zeal.  The Liszt was beautifully executed.  Prokofiev – always difficult.  The orchestra swallowed the whole symphony with ease.  Magnificent sound.  Well done NYOW. All of you!
  • Congratulations to you all.  A superb concert, all your hard work has paid off.  It was a huge privilege to sit in the audience tonight.  Well done

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Post-it Note Feedback - part 2

Some more examples of the audience responses from the NYOW 2011 Concert Tour
Sage, Gateshead – spot the post by a family member!
  • Absolutely terrific! Meghan and Natalie Evans made the performance!
  • Speechless, unbelievable for their age! Harriet age 7.
  • Bravo! We were absolutely swept off our feet! Very professional performance. Good luck for the future.
  • Thank you for a wonderful concert. It was a tribute to your talent, hard work and enthusiasm. You are all a positive advert for the young people of today. Well done!
  • Very impressed with your talent, musicianship and enthusiastic performance. Visitors from Sydney.
  • Wonderful evening and fantastic performance. Our second chance to hear and see you. Please keep coming back. Royston & Pam Thomas
  • Great performance, fantastic. Would have enjoyed the inclusion of one popular piece –a crowd pleaser!
  • Well worth the 100 mile round trip from Carlisle to hear you! Well played! Prokofiev particularly stunning, thank you.
  • You guys were great, so refreshing! Thanks for coming to the Sage – come again!
  • That was quite astonishing and a remarkable performance! Made my baby bump kick like mad –maybe a member for the future!
  • Well done – almost professional standard – choice was a bit esoteric. I would have liked the inclusion of at least one popular piece – Beethoven, Mozart perhaps or even Brahms!
RNCM, Manchester
  • A great concert, vital, and when the music took off ie. Prokofiev so did the orchestra. Well done!  Great music – will be a huge experience for the orchestras and the audience.
  • Bravo! My highlights: Ensemble – excellent, Intonation – very good, Communication and performance – Class.  A+
  • A-maz-ing!!! Byth yn meddwl mai pobl ifanc oedd yn chwarae fab! Nia
  • Fluid  - accomplished – stunning and mesmerising.
  • Fabulous! Feather to the Mountain was a wonderful addition to the classical repertoire.  Thank you, also for introducing me to the Liszt.
  • Rhagorol! Absolutely brilliant! A credit to all who participated.
  • What a wonderful concert and marvelous advertisement for Welsh Culture.  The orchestra is remarkably good and seemed to handle the music’s technical moments with ease alongside some outstanding solo playing.  Please come to Manchester again.
  • A very exciting performance of Prokofiev 5.  Thanks to all you young people from Wales for your abilities and enthusiasm for this great music.  John & Lucy Nathrass Altrincham and Susie Holaham, New Haven USA
  • Diolch am brofiad rhagorol!

Friday, 2 September 2011

NYOW 2011

So having pretty much recovered from the summer residency it is time to turn our thoughts to 2012. But before we do that, maybe a little reflection on NYOW 2011 and what that brought.
With a raft of senior members leaving us last September, 2011 brought the largest number of new members to the NYOW – forty two in total, or over a third of the Orchestra. 2011 also saw a chamber orchestra of senior and recent former members accompany the National Youth Choir of Wales in a fantastic performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C at the Fishguard Festival in St Davids Cathedral.
But perhaps the biggest change for the NYOW this year was working with a new conductor. Maestro Takuo Yuasa brought with him not only a wealth of experience and musicality, but also a keen sense of humour, and he fitted in with the NYOW from the get-go. A sign of the respect afforded him by the members of the Orchestra was the near constant flash of cameras in the bar after the final performance in Cardiff.
And the concerts, well what can I say? Full of energy, musicianship and passion, with the performances getting better and better as the tour went on. The Orchestra, despite its number of fledgling members coped with the rigours of a challenging programme and lengthy bus journeys to do the ‘Nash’ name proud. A lengthy standing ovation from a large audience in Cardiff was no more than they deserved.
And so onto 2012, well almost! Despite the application deadline looming at the end of September and the annual tour of auditions in November, we have time for one last hurrah. 2011 heralds a milestone in the history of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales as it celebrates its 65th Anniversary. To mark the occasion we have a Winter Ball planned for the 18th November. We are hoping as many current and former members from throughout the Orchestra’s long history will be able to join us and help us celebrate this wonderful achievement. Here’s to the next 65 years and beyond!