A YOUTH orchestra is to mark its golden anniversary with two special performances this weekend.

Hampshire County Youth Orchestra will celebrate its 50th anniversary alongside the Wessex Dance company with two days of concerts on Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3.

The long-awaited celebration will take place in one of the country’s top concert halls, the Anvil in Basingstoke.

Director of the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra, Carl Clausen said: “The 50th anniversary celebration recognises what an important part of children’s education music is. When the old members come back, they share how it was such a major part of their growing up, not just as a musician but as a person in general. It plays a huge part in your development as a young person.

Basingstoke Gazette: The Hampshire County Council, the Chairmans Concert at the Anvil.

“We’re celebrating a real comeback because everything stopped for two years, music was down the pan. So, it’s also a celebration of the resurrection of music in Hampshire.”

A group of the county’s most talented young musicians make up the full symphony orchestra, with all 150 current members set to perform six to seven pieces at 4pm on Saturday, July 2.

The youth orchestra will be collaborating with 15 musicians from the English Chamber Orchestra and the Wessex Dance Company.

The Wessex Dance Company, in Winchester, is supported and funded by the Hampshire County Council to help vulnerable young people get back on track to education, employment or training through dance programmes.

Hannah Martin-Reilly, lead dance artist and choreographer for the company said: “Young people are referred to us from all different places and we act as a kind of respite for them and they come and press pause on whatever is going on in their lives.

“It’s our performance company that’s performing with the orchestra. There are eight dancers made up university students, graduates and young people who have been involved with our cohort in the past.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve collaborated with the youth orchestra, it’s actually the second big performance we’ve done with them and it’s always such an amazing opportunity for our young people to perform with a live orchestra. We’re super excited to be there and perform alongside them.”

The performance company will also be there on Sunday, July 3. Performing with a group of 150 returning ex-members, some who have established music careers, to acknowledge the momentous milestone. Their concert will be at 6pm in the Anvil auditorium.

Hampshire Music service manages the three ensembles that make up the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra.

Patron for the service and previous chairman of Hampshire County Council, Keith Chapman MBE has been supporting the group for over twenty years and led the team that built the Basingstoke concert hall in 1994.

He said: "The Anvil was designed as a concert hall, not a theatre so that means the concert hall auditorium has no carpet so everything inside is quite stark because it’s there to reflect the sound. It should be a magnificent concert. All the major orchestras of the world play there and most say it’s the best concert hall in the UK because of its acoustics. The Philharmonia orchestra even think it’s the best in Europe.

“The 50th anniversary concerts should be a magnificent event.

“It’s quite an achievement for 50 years. Hampshire has a very good music service but music services throughout the UK have been disappearing over the last five to 10 years so Hampshire is one of the outstanding ones so it’s important that people come together and celebrate being part of a fantastic organisation.

“They’re playing an amazing concert programme which will be really good for people to listen to, and they deserve recognition because they play to such a high standard. Someone said to me if you close your eyes, you wouldn’t really know if it’s a youth or professional orchestra playing.

“I think it’s a nice thing to celebrate and I wish all the young people all the best for the future.”

During his time as chairman of the county council, Keith helped to run 75 music events involving the Hampshire Music Service including the youth orchestra.

Keith was awarded an MBE for his service to arts and culture and is now one of the friends of the youth orchestra who provide financial support to the organisation to facilitate musical education for Hampshire school and college students.

For more go to https://hcyo.hmsensembles.org.uk/.

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