The Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to become patron of The East Sussex Youth Orchestra, flagship ensemble of the East Sussex Music Service.
A press release from East Sussex County Council and the Association of Friends of ESYO says this comes as a welcome encouragement for both the orchestra and county council at a time of financial constraint and uncertainty about the future of music in our schools
The Duchess of Cornwall has close links with East Sussex having been raised in Plumpton.
She is also President of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, where the orchestra has given a concert each summer in recent years, and is well known for her support of the performing arts.
The East Sussex Music Service founded the orchestra – which includes members from Uckfield – in 1979, appointing Colin Metters as its first conductor.
Colin has conducted and mentored successive generations of young Sussex musicians for over 30 years.
He is professor and head of conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and has worked with many leading orchestras in the UK and abroad and has given master-classes in Europe, USA, Russia, China and Australia.
The East Sussex Music Service provides all school children with the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and the dedicated staff encourage them to join together in ensembles and group playing on Saturday mornings.
“Entry to the County Youth Orchestra is by audition and the quality of their meticulously-prepared performances are testament to the formidable skill and experience of their conductor and tutors; not forgetting the growing talent of the young people themselves,” says the press release.
Several past members have embarked on professional musical careers although this is not the orchestra’s prime motivation.
In the summer of 2011 the orchestra gave a concert in Bexhill and then made a short tour of Holland.
Their programme comprised the premier of a ‘Sussex Overture’ written specially for the orchestra by Dr Tony Biggin, director of the Music Service, Max Bruch’s G minor violin concerto with Lewes-born Beatrice Philips as soloist and finishing with Beethoven’s epic ‘Eroica’ symphony.
Touring abroad is described as an “invigorating part of the orchestra’s life” and provides excellent opportunities for the young people involved to demonstrate a very positive side of British culture and temperament.
The press release goes on to say: “However, the costs associated are increasingly beyond the means of individual players and their families.”
The Friends hope that The Duchess’s Patronage will help to raise awareness among local residents and businesses of the “jewel that sits in the heart of their community”.