All aboard a double decker bus to Italy for Sheffield youth orchestra

The city of Sheffield Youth Orchestra rehearsing for their shows in Italy and at Sheffield Cathedral
The city of Sheffield Youth Orchestra rehearsing for their shows in Italy and at Sheffield Cathedral

The City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra are certainly dedicated to their art, spending days travelling by bus to perform in Italy before turning round and doing it all again to play in Sheffield.

The players, aged between 13 and 21, spent a week rehearsing their concert programme in Sheffield as part of their summer course before boarding a double-decker bus to head to Italy.

The orchestra has to hire a bus because of the prohibitive cost of getting 80 students, their adult leaders and all their instruments over to Italy by plane, explained outgoing leader Lucas Ferguson.

This week the orchestra have played concerts at the San Leo Festival, the Basilica di San Francesco in Ravenna and Chiesa San Agostino in Cesena, all in the northern Emilio-Romagna region of Italy.

Then it was back on the bus for 30 hours to head home in time for Monday’s concert at Sheffield Cathedral.

Violinist Lucas said: “I think it actually improves the quality if we spend so much time intensively involved in the music.

“It’s the main difference between us and a lot of other amateur and youth orchestras.

“Because of our intensive schedule, we can spend a lot of time learning about music, as opposed to learning to play music.”

The formula is certainly popular as the orchestra attracts players from all over Yorkshire, Manchester and Wales as well as Sheffield.

Like Lucas, many of the players come to the orchestra through the Sheffield Music Academy.

Their touring programme that will be heard in Sheffield is the Brahms Academic Festival Overture, Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, featuring soloist Martin Cropper, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6.

Lucas, who first picked up a violin at the age of five, is bowing out after this tour because he’s about to turn 22.

He said modestly: “I’m leader of the orchestra, which just means I sit in a specific chair.

“I’ve been there for seven years.

“I’m the longest-serving member.”

He added: “The orchestra gets me to play music I wouldn’t normally play.

“The other reason people stay is the social aspect more than anything else.

“I’ve made many friends here, not just orchestra members but the staff as well.

“They do look after us. They really get us to lots of fantastic places.”

He’s also played in Holland, Spain and France and was excited to be heading to Italy for his final tour with the orchestra.

He said: “It’s such a fantastic send-off.”

Lucas has studied with Martin Cropper at Sheffield Music Academy and has just finished a degree in music at the University of Manchester.

He’s aiming to move into a career in radio, and has his eye on the BBC in Media City in Salford, and will now be looking for an adult orchestra to perform with.

The concert on Monday (August 6) at Sheffield Cathedral starts at 7.30pm.

Tickets are available from www.csyo.org.uk, the Famous Sheffield Shop on Ecclesall Road or Sheffield Scene on Surrey Street.