On Friday 4 May, young musician, Ella O’S took part in a National Youth Orchestra Inspire Day at the Barbican Centre in London. Her experience was inspirational and an amazing insight into how the Arts can break down barriers to bring about change in our world. Read her report here:

On Friday 4 May, I joined one hundred and sixty-three other musicians aged between 13 and 18 who came together to form a huge orchestra, conducted by the amazing Gustavo Dudamel, a famous and completely brilliant Venezuelan conductor. He is Principal Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has led many other famous orchestras, so being conducted by him was such a privilege.

The purpose of this Inspire Day was to launch a new Manifesto for the Arts called “Tuning Into Change”. The manifesto was written by a group of young artists and musicians from all over the country and outlines how they want to help break down barriers and connect people through the Arts. In the manifesto, the young people write about how we sometimes struggle to be heard and how we need to reach out into the world to form communities with powerful voices that transcend race, gender, language, and that break the mould. The NYO Inspire Day was a designed to drum up interest in Tuning into Change, to inspire others and show them what we can do.

After spending a whole day rehearsing in London on the Sunday beforehand, on Friday 4th May we left home at 5am to travel to the Barbican Centre for a morning of rehearsal and a performance. We played the European premiere of Danzón No. 9 by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. A ‘danzón’ is the fiery cross-breed of a tango and a samba, originating from South America. It has with driving basslines, syncopated rhythms, accents and volatile temperament. The mood of this piece would often flick suddenly from passion to anger; this indecisiveness and furious, deep sound creates a dynamic and exciting piece of music.

The piece was quite challenging to play, as the first violins had lots of off-beat rhythms, high notes and tricky key changes, but the overall sound was so amazing and entrancing that it was worth it. Also, when you’re surrounded by people who are all supporting you and playing with you it is hard for it not to feel absolutely awesome!

It really was a truly inspiring experience. As Gustavo Dudamel said at the end of the piece, music is all about the “disciplined joy” of playing together. You gain all these skills that you cannot gain anywhere else and you reach out and touch other people and inspire them. This is what Tuning into Change is all about – spreading a love of the Arts and breaking down barriers to join together as one, becoming a strong voice that can accomplish even seemingly impossible tasks.

Ella O’S, Year 8