History of the Orchestra
A Brief History
BMYO can trace its history back to 1969, when the Milngavie Symphony Orchestra was founded by Andrew Thomson for adult players. It became the Milngavie Orchestral Society in 1974. A junior section was founded in 1975 by Anna Moffat, a local violin teacher, and the two orchestras became part of the Bearsden and Milngavie Arts Guild.
The adult orchestra was disbanded in 1979 but the Youth Orchestra went from strength to strength. Initially there were two ensembles, which expanded to three in 1992 and four in 2008 with the addition of the Wind Band. Miss Moffat still takes a keen interest in BMYO and attends the concerts when her health permits. The orchestra has functioned in much the same way since it was founded: rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings during the Autumn and Spring school terms with a concert at the end of each term.
For many years the rehearsals were held in Milngavie Primary School then in Craigdhu Primary School, but BMYO moved to its present abode, Douglas Academy, in 1999. There have typically over 100 children in BMYO although this has fluctuated from year to year. Several members of BMYO have gone on to pursue professional careers in music as teachers or performers. Many of the concerts have featured guest performers. These included the choir from Balfron High School in the early days, the Lomond School Traditional Musicians, and latterly the Milngavie Young Singers.
Special concerts have included performances at the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988 and in Bearsden and Milngavie's Mainly Mozart festival for the City of Culture in 1990. The most recent special event was the Silver Jubilee Concert, held at St Luke's Church - the venue for most of our regular concerts - in March 2001. BMYO has commissioned a small number of works, including the Saltire Sinfionetta by Adrian Finnerty for the Millenium Concert in March 2000. More recently they have played at the National Association of Youth Orchestras (NAYO) Festival in 2009 at the RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and in 2011 they accompanied Milngavie Choir at their Christmas Concert.
BMYO was run very informally in its early days but this has had to change with the times and there is now a committee. A formal constitution was adopted in 1999 and BMYO became a Scottish charity in 2004. We have also joined Making Music, the National Federation of Music Societies. Most orchestras for children are either run by local authorities, such as East Dunbartonshire, or are national bodies, such as the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland. BMYO is most unusual in being independent. The Helensburgh Saturday Orchestra is the nearest similar organisation that we know of (its conductor is Yvonne Hall, a former member of BMYO).
We aim to complement the other styles of orchestra by providing above all a friendly environment, where inexperienced players learn to enjoy playing in an orchestra. We also provide opportunities for solos and for small groups to perform in settings where they will not feel intimidated.