County Wexford Youth Orchestra Participate in Youth Orchestra in Italy

The County Wexford Youth Orchestra (CWYO) won one of two achievement awards presented at the 2017 Festival of Youth Orchestras in February. CWYO made contact with an organisation in Italy after reading an article on the IAYO website back in September 2013 which led to the orchestra taking part in an international orchestra festival ‘Music is Calling: Let’s play together’ in July 2014, in San Salvo, Italy with orchestras from Slovakia, Italy and The Netherlands.

The festival was funded by a Youth in Action programme, through Léargas. Due to the success of this trip, the orchestra stayed in regular contact with the organisers, conductors and students and was thrilled to be invited back for a new festival, ‘Music Inclusion’, in July 2016. They started planning for this trip in November 2015 and it took 9 months to prepare. The CWYO conductor, Emily Redmond, travelled to San Salvo for meetings and preparation in April 2016. This was a huge benefit for the planning process of the festival which, this time, was made up of orchestras from Spain, Austria, Italy and Ireland.

The repertoire for ‘Music Inclusion’ was of a much higher standard than the previous festival which was a real challenge for the Wexford players. Over 170 young musicians rehearsed Beethoven, Gershwin and Williams for 8 hours each day over a 10 day period. They performed 2 concerts under the baton of Italian conductor Simone Genuini. The main objectives of the project and trip abroad were to nurture strong links with the organisation in San Salvo, to build on existing friendships and to form new links for future exchanges. It was also a chance to give CWYO members the opportunity to work on more difficult repertoire with orchestras of a high standard from around Europe and to immerse themselves into the daily life of a new culture by living with host families for 10 days.

The Irish orchestra commissioned Wexford composer / pianist Fintan Cleary to write a piece to perform in Italy called I gCuimhne which was received warmly. CWYO members worked on presentations about their heritage and culture and also prepared demonstrations of Mumming and Irish dancing. The Mumming was such a novelty with the other countries involved in the festival that CWYO had to teach players during the break times of rehearsals! Other members of CWYO performed Irish traditional instruments such as the banjo, concertina and bodhrán. Students from the orchestra decided to come up with their own fundraising ideas and planned a teenage table quiz and raised almost 1,000 euro. Other students held Easter raffles and coffee mornings in their secondary schools. The full orchestra also organised a large coffee morning at the County Wexford School of Music and offered face painting and games to families who came along. Some even provided background music in the foyer of the school. Students approached local businesses for sponsorship too. In total over 4,000 euro was raised. Students also came up with the idea of setting up a separate Facebook page for CWYO leading up to the trip which has had an extremely positive effect on the growth of the orchestra in 2016 /2017.

Some other aims of the project were to promote the creativity and spirit of initiative of young people from different European countries through the joint creation of an orchestral and musical repertoire containing messages related to the themes of “cultural diversity” and “European Citizenship”. The young people, aged between 13 and 25, were given the experience of what it means to be European citizens through the universal language of music. Students gained much more than they expected from this exchange, both on a personal and an academic level.