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BBC orchestra strikes a chord with city's young musicians

Young musicians from schools and colleges in Swansea have been given the chance to be part of a full symphony orchestra when they played side by side with professionals from BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) to raise the roof at the city's Brangwyn Hall.


American conductor Clark Rundell led two workshops, in which participants rehearsed two pieces, Finlandia by Sibelius and three movements from The Planets by Holst. Together they formed a 168 piece orchestra, which then performed for families and friends at the Brangwyn Hall.

The event was a partnership between BBC NOW, West Glamorgan Youth Music which is part of Swansea Council's Music Service and the Abertawe Festival for Young Musicians.

Youngsters who took part in the event have described it as among the highlights of their musical careers to date. Olchfa School pupil and violinist Maddison Cassidy was one of those to pick-up tips "I've been playing with West Glamorgan Youth Music for 11 years and hands down this has been the best experience ever, such an exciting opportunity and invaluable to be surrounded by these professional musicians."

Maddison played alongside past WGYM member Gwenllian Hâf Richards, who is a violinist for BBC NOW.

Fellow Olchfa pupil Ethan Bewen-Chappell added: "It was an amazing experience and a fantastic opportunity for me to play in a full symphony orchestra.  The professional players were very supportive and helpful. I learnt such a lot during the workshop. It has made me think about my playing and how I can improve. I am now looking forward to watching the BBC NOW in concert."

Gower College student Alasdair Gunneberg said: "This is one of the best experiences I have had so far. Sitting next to a professional musician helped me to focus on what is important and really inspired me."

Suzanne Hay, Head of Partnerships and Learning at BBC NOW said "Workshops, such as this side-by-side project are such an important part of our programme in helping to nurture the talent of the future. Our aim for this project was to support the re-establishment of the West Glamorgan Youth Symphony Orchestra and this event was an exciting and important first step. It's a wonderful opportunity to work closely with our partners in Swansea."

Karin Jenkins, Head of Swansea Council's Music Service, said: "Many of the young people who took part have said how inspirational the experience was and how excited they are to continue this musical journey into the future. This of course has been made possible by the incredible work of all the professionals at BBC NOW and we are truly grateful for their time, guidance and passion."

The workshop participants have been invited to see BBC NOW perform Finlandia by Sibelius conducted by Principal Conductor of BBC NOW, Thomas Sondergard, alongside Sibelius' Fifth Symphony at the Brangwyn Hall [February 9]. Tickets are now on sale from BBC National Orchestra of Wales Audience Line 0800 052 1812 or

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