My name is Lily Frascina, I'm 18 from Sheffield, and very excited to have played French horn in the very first NYO Inspire Orchestra!
The Inspire Orchestra residency in Manchester had two parts: five days of intensive rehearsals and preparation, followed by a five-day tour of secondary schools in the northwest of England.
During full (tutti) rehearsals with our wonderful conductor, Duncan Ward, we explored and played an exciting variety of music including Shostakovich’s incredible First Symphony, the contemporary Shadowgraph 5 by George Lewis with its experimental and ‘free-style’ sections and an arrangement of Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’ which involved learning to dance with our instruments!
In sectionals we practised the more difficult aspects of the repertoire and worked on our technique with our amazing professional tutors, who challenged and stretched us in a myriad of different ways to improve and advance our playing.
We also played together in a variety of chamber groups and ensembles; one of my highlights (there are too many to include them all here) involved playing sections from Wagner’s Ring Cycle in a horn octet with our fabulous tutor, Beth Randell, and our surprise visitor, Tom Redmond of the Hallé Orchestra.
And our musicianship skills weren’t neglected either. Our first activity on Day 1 was a session on warming up properly before rehearsal, just as you'd do when preparing for a race. We also learned how to be calm and focused, and to maintain that feeling throughout rehearsals to give us the best learning experience.
In preparation for our tour to secondary schools, we discussed, explored and learned how to lead workshops so that we would be able to successfully share our knowledge, experience and love of music with the musicians that we would be working with. But no amount of training could have prepared me for the enthusiastic reactions of the students we met; the thrill of being part of their first orchestral experience (for many of them it was also the first time that they had performed for an audience) is something that will stay with me for a long time.
And if that isn’t enough, we’ve been looked after in every way by a fantastic support team and treated to a wide range of social activities that included watching our tutors from the Hallé Orchestra perform at Bridgewater Hall, learning some new dance moves with Jamaal Burkmar, a graduate from Northern School for Contemporary Dance, and last but not least the sectional evenings filled with games - just like to say that you can’t beat a cake-fuelled horn quiz!
While playing music with other people is something I've always loved doing, being in NYO Inspire Orchestra has been both hugely rewarding and great fun. I can honestly say that it was 100% inspirational!