Letter: Another string to Yorkshire’s bow

In Ian Clayton’s column ‘A Musical North-South Divide’ (Express, December 7) he mentions that he does not have the “figures that tell the geographical make-up of the National Youth Orchestra today”. With the orchestra performing at Leeds Town Hall on January 3, I am delighted to let you know that the 2015 orchestra includes eight musicians from Yorkshire (Doncaster, Sheffield, Leeds, Shipley, Beverley, Harrogate and Bradford).

They range from clarinets, violins and French horns to the principal percussionist. I would hope you see these figures as positive, and a step in the right direction from the two Yorkshire musicians you were aware of 15 years ago. The teenagers who form the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain come from all over the UK, with more than 50 per cent from such places as Truro, Guernsey, Carrickfergus, Aberdeen, Mahynlleth, Stockton on Tees, a long way from the south east.

I agree that there’s a need to secure funding for music education country wide, and am pleased that this year’s NYO figures do offer a good geographical representation demonstrating teenagers passion for music across the country. Furthermore, 50 per cent of this year’s musicians are from state schools. Ninety-five per cent of the remaining 50 per cent receive financial assistance to attend their independent school. Eighteen per cent are from BME backgrounds, which is three per cent over the national average.

I do hope readers will be inspired to support their local musicians on January 3 with conductor John Wilson.

Sarah Alexander

Chief Executive and Artistic Director

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain