It was an absolute joy to bring our brilliant young musicians from the West of England Youth Orchestra together for another project of virtual music making on Saturday 29th August!

Adam Laughton, Creative Learning and Community Engagement Coordinator at WMC, shares his review from the day. 


The experience of making music during lockdown has made musicians of all ages and stages yearn for concert halls and rehearsal spaces to reopen once again. From internet issues to dodgy microphones and webcams, the limitations of virtual rehearsals and performances have been much maligned across the past six months. Without question, the West of England Youth Orchestra are an ensemble which cannot wait to come back together in the same room and make music live to audiences once again.

And yet, during their second Virtual Project which took place on Saturday 29th August, it occurred to me that the enforced digitisation of WEYO has brought with it incredibly exciting opportunities that our young musicians never would have had in the flesh.

The opportunity to be a part of a virtual performance of Jeff Moore’s new commission, Dancing Folk, alongside hundreds of players from orchestras across the world. The opportunity to mix with leading tutors from across the country. The opportunity to welcome new young players who have never been a part of WEYO. And, most excitingly, the opportunity for the young musicians to be pushed out of their comfort zone in crazy new ways, with creative improvisation sessions with leading cellist Matt Thorpe and Irish Dancing with award winning Sean Nós dancer Lillie Crossley.

Virtual music making will never replace the experience of performing in the flesh together. But, as WMC opens again to the public and the prospect of our Youth Orchestras returning to the venue creeping ever closer, the team who deliver these projects have become reflective in considering how we can learn from these exciting opportunities that have been presented to us, and how we can ensure our participants continue to be pushed out of their comfort zone in future. In the meantime, we are very much looking forward to sharing the fruits of a fantastic virtual project, which we hope to do so in the coming weeks and months.