Unbelievably, our first Bryanston was 40 years ago this year! On arrival as a young couple, we were shown around by Gary Holmes and threw ourselves into the job, coaching viola and clarinet.
Memories of those early years are strong. Front desk of the violas was Roger Tapping, now the violist in the Julliard Quartet, and Douglas Paterson, later to be with the Schubert ensemble for many years. Also in that orchestra were a young Spike Wilson and Jean Paterson, both of whom were to play their own distinguished roles with the orchestra in the years to come. A few years later, both the Gould sisters enhanced the orchestra with Lucy leading and Kate leading the cellos. That year, Evelyn Glennie also joined us for Bryanston, playing a solo with the orchestra and entertaining us in an informal concert (in the days before she became a household name). She duetted with Simon Carrington (later to be timpanist with the LPO and LSO) in a piece by Panufnik.
In the clarinets, one of Janet’s first principal players was Michael Whight who went on to be principal with the Philharmonia for many years.
And we can still remember some of the early repertoire: Brahms 3rd symphony and the Prokofiev First piano concerto, with a very young Simon Rattle conducting a performance of it in New Hall! A Mahler 2nd Symphony in Cape Town is also a special memory.
In the days before safeguarding was as it is today, the course was a family friendly affair with many of the staff bringing their young children with an unofficial crèche. Our son, Andrew, was a mere 3 weeks old for our third Bryanston and later he loved walking the long corridors behind his truck of bricks. Our daughter (now the bassoon coach) was a little older for her first Bryanston at a full 3 months!
Informal concerts were much more informal then than currently, with the young children being assured of an enthusiastic reception which was greatly enjoyed. In due course each of our children had their own places in the orchestra and both look back to those early years with great affection. Informal though they were, they had their highlights. Unforgettable amongst them was oboist Nick Daniel playing the Britten 6 Metamorphoses just before he became BBC young musician of the year.
The buildings have developed hugely over the years too and over the years we’ve stayed in almost every corner including many that are no longer there! Leisure activities have become a little more sophisticated in recent years with memories of Dome paper aircraft competitions (there are probably still a few of them lurking in high corners) and swimming galas. In good weather, we had occasional rehearsals down in the Greek theatre (in competition with a percussive woodpecker)!
Conductors have of course come and gone with each bringing their own different skills and we have good reason to remember each of them with great affection. One early year, Gary was unavailable and Stephen Barlow stepped in. Completely by chance we bumped into him in Switzerland with his wife (Joanna Lumley!) whilst we were out walking later in the year. Tours too were different in the early years when home stays made it possible to have financially viable long distance trips. We went with the orchestra to Australia in 1979 (before our family arrived) where HCYO was the first British orchestra to play in the Sydney Opera House. Then South Africa in 1998 and Chile in 2001; both memorable.
One of our greatest pleasures is to go to concerts now and spot ex HCYO members in the ranks of professional orchestras, and there are many of them.
Long may the tradition continue. We’re privileged to be a part of it.
Tim and Janet (Griffiths/Herson).