Nicky's Notes


National Orchestra of Great Britain

On 14th of August I joined the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain under 13’s orchestra for a performance in Glasgow RCH, an organisation I have the great honour of being newly-appointed Vice President.

It’s hard to adequately describe the level of pride I felt towards these 106 children I’d never met before. Around that age it’s very difficult to negotiate raising your standard of playing without becoming overly self-critic

al and inhibited. Somehow, and I’m sure largely thanks to the focussed yet extremely positive environment cultivated by Roger Clarkson and all the NCO staff, collectively the children of the under 13’s showed no struggle whatsoever. The kindness, sweetness, respect and sustained focus demonstrated by these 12&13 year olds on stage was moving and inspiring. My alert and humble desk partner, Catherine Abela, looked after me constantly – checking I knew where I was in the part, each time I looked away she carefully pointed out where we’d now gotten to in case I was lost, which I sometimes was! Wynton Marsalis joined us for the day and sat where he felt most comfortable – right in the middle of the trumpet section he later called ‘great, & the cutest in the world’. Wynton chose to improvise on both encores – Danzon no 2. by Marquez and Libertango by Piazzola. We were all privileged to be on the stage with him that day. The children, far from being daunted, relaxed around his natural, unassuming presence and savoured every moment.

The children’s performance of Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 5 near brought me to tears, and I greatly look forward to a long future together with this wonderful institution. Enjoy some photos from the memorable day.