It’s party time for South London Youth Orchestra


We almost need candles and a cake this week in happy anticipation of Richard Rodney Bennett’s Party Piece, part of the programme for South London Youth Orchestra’s concert on Thursday. No one can be more excited about the performance on Thursday than Rachel Evans, one of the SLYO ‘founder’ members who’s been playing loyally with the orchestra on holiday courses from the year dot when it first started.

Rachel will be playing the piano with SLYO 2 in this contemporary jazz piece. She explains, “It’s fun to play so many different styles and speeds. A lot of the time it’s not strictly a solo, more a solo on top of the orchestra backing; sometimes I accompany the orchestra. Often the woodwind play with me and the strings and brass accompany me.”

It’s quite different playing piano in the sanctuary of your own home from playing with an orchestra, so there’s been plenty of practice and good advice from her teacher to learn all the orchestra parts. “I had imagined playing it at a certain speed, but the conductor, Jonathan, wanted a slower rhythm. I think it’s easier to draw on muscular memory when you playing faster, so this has been a challenge.”

Rachel, aged 15, has already completed her Diploma in piano. The holiday courses are highlights in her busy year. “I love performing with other musicians and I’ve made lots of friends. SLYO gives you a really good orchestra experience. I can remember in SLYO 3 being taught how to sit so we could stand silently! The tutors choose meaty pieces for us and talking to others helps you to understand music better.”

Thursday’s performance is imminent. SLYO 4, 3 and 2 will be proud to show their achievements to family and friends. Good luck to Rachel and to all the young musicians.

Find out more about SLYO courses on the JASSPA website:

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