Birth Of An Orchestra


2015091520150919 (R4)

Alan Bennett, former members of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra (1947-55) and students of the new Yorkshire Young Sinfonia discuss Yorkshire orchestras past, present and future.

Last year on BBC Radio 4, Alan Bennett recalled his boyhood visits to the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. In Death of an Orchestra, he was joined by supporters and former members in telling the YSO's history, from 1947 to its sad demise in 1955.

As he listened to that programme, David Taylor was coincidentally in the process of creating a new youth orchestra - the Yorkshire Young Sinfonia - and Alan Bennett's story of the YSO gave his project a new sense of purpose: "To create the musicians of tomorrow, providing a springboard to a career in the arts, and stimulate the arts in Yorkshire".

Birth of an Orchestra follows the students of the YYS as they prepare for their inaugural concert - just 60 years on from the YSO's last performance. The young players talk about their musical backgrounds and ambitions, and hear advice from three former members of the YSO with long and distinguished orchestral careers - violinist Stan Smith, harpist Mair Roberts and cellist Betty Wood, a founder member of the YSO at the age of 19.

The programme explores Yorkshire's musical heritage. Alan Bennett remembers an embarrassing visit to the Leeds Triennial Festival, Leeds City Organist Simon Lindley outlines the origins of music-making in the county and Bernard Atha - former Lord Mayor of Leeds - recalls hearing John McCormack sing there in the 1930s.

Producer: Susan Kenyon

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

Alan Bennett and musicians young and old consider the orchestral heritage of Yorkshire.