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Why We Need To #SaveEUYO

Save EUYO Encore Article

Joel Ashford joined the EUYO in 2015 as a French horn player, and is an ABRSM Scholar at the Royal College of Music, London. He has appeared as a concerto soloist numerous times and played professionally with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the John Wilson Orchestra, as its youngest ever member.

As you may be aware, the EU Council recently cut all remaining ‘Creative Europe’ funding for the European Union Youth Orchestra. As a result of this action, the EUYO must cease all operations from 1st September 2016.

I thought I’d share with you my experience of this most wonderful of orchestras, in the hope that you will sign the petition addressed to the European Council in Brussels, urging them to reverse their decision.

EUYO European Parliament

From left to right: Matilda Lloyd, Joel Ashford, Ross Knight, Andrew McCoy and Tom Griffiths. Photo credit: Chris Turner
The EUYO has always been, for me and many others, an exciting musical goal. Auditioning for EUYO, fresh from membership of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, was a huge step for me. Being part of the Orchestra in 2015 was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life: performing with an ensemble so fantastically diverse, vibrant and completely in love with its art has changed my outlook forever. The hunger with which we all strove for musical perfection, alongside the unfailing generosity of character shown by everyone to all their colleagues, was something truly special.

Expertly guided by the wonderful musicians who gave up their time to tutor the orchestra, I was in a constant state of learning. I came away from those weeks with the EUYO a changed musician and person, with a burning appetite to continue learning.

Sir Colin Davis conducts the EUYO at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall
Having already developed such a strong identification with the orchestra and its extraordinary experience of unity through diversity, I was incredibly excited to be called up for this year’s summer tour, which fortunately has been guaranteed despite the lack of funding. Over a hundred European musicians aged 18-26 will spend six weeks touring concert halls from Berlin to Bolzano, playing Mahler under Vasily Petrenko and Bruckner under Bernard Haitink. It’s a heartbreaking prospect that this tour might be the orchestra’s last, but whatever the outcome of the next few weeks’ negotiations, the concerts this August might be amongst the most impassioned of the EUYO’s long and illustrious history.

I implore you to realise that this orchestra displays the best of everything which our society should stand for. There is no better ambassador for a peaceful and prosperous Europe than an orchestra comprising young people who devote their lives to the celebration and furthering of its cultural heritage. Its closure would be the untimely and tragic end of an organisation which engenders peace, harmony and stability throughout Europe.

Please sign and share the petition to show your support, and visit www.euyo.eu for other ways to help ensure that one of our greatest treasures lives on to inspire generation after generation to come.

Below are stories from various musicians about the role EUYO has played in their personal and musical lives. To submit your story, please email Paula – [email protected]

Andrew McCoy, Trombone


Andrew McCoy EUYO Story

“Last July, I touched down in Vienna airport, anxious to play with this orchestra I had mythified ever since I had seriously considered making a career as a professional musician. I remember standing in the arrivals area with some of my fellow musicians, terrified that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

After a short journey to our accommodation, a quick dinner and some introductions, I found myself on the rooftop terrace, with around 20 other players. This was the first time that I could truly appreciate the diversity of the orchestra.

Picture the scene: a Dane, a Dutchy (as we affectionately called our friends from the Netherlands), and an Englishman all Irish dancing on the terrace, being coached by one of our Irish cellists. A Frenchman standing to my right, a Slovenian on my left, it immediately struck me that I was a part of something bigger, more special, than just an orchestra. This really was the EU as it had been conceived, borderless, boundary-less, free from prejudice, free from preconceived notions of, well anything. And this was all before the first rehearsal!

The point which I’m trying to make, is that the EUYO stands for everything that is right with the EU – we are “United in Diversity”. This isn’t just about an orchestra, it’s about uniting people across the whole of Europe.”

Kalliopi Mitropoulou, Violin


Kalliopi Mitropoulou EUYO Story

“As a musician from Greece, where someone can study music only in private institutions and the closest university degree to music is Musicology, EUYO was a school for me. The first time was terrifying: I had no orchestra experience and it was very hard for me to be as fast as the others. I was afraid and struggling.

The musicians and the tutors though, as well as the staff, were more than encouraging. They were a family. A family that I wanted to go back to every spring and summer till the age limit. Memorable and moving concerts, having an idea of each city that we were playing, long trips in buses, friendships that will stay forever, minor tour accidents, everything about loving music and loving people. It is the idea of a united Europe becoming real and direct.

One thing I loved about EUYO was breathing together while making music, and see each other’s eyes with a smile in moments in the music that meant something to us.

I remember on one tour, during Rhapsody in Blue, I had a moment when I was communicating with the first viola, then the cello in the 6th desk, then my friend next to me, and trying not to look at someone cause she made me laugh which could have been dangerous. The hugs between us every concert were a powerful tradition; we really shared music with each other.

We have to save EUYO.”

Anna Caban, Violin


Anna Caban EUYO Story

“Being a member of the EUYO was one of the most important moments of my life as a musician. It’s absolutely priceless for young, aspiring musicians to be in such inspiring environment and to work with people at the top of their profession. It helps to develop tools and gives courage to reach one’s dreams.”

Helena Buckie, Violin

Helena Buckie EUYO Story

“I became a member of the EUYO in 2013. I’d always heard about the exceptionally high standard of the orchestra and, since it was always my dream to become an orchestral musician, was beyond thrilled to be accepted.

I was so excited to experience my first tour. I thought about how great it would be to learn more about orchestral playing techniques on tour, play fantastic repertoire and work with world-renowned conductors, soloists and tutors (and honestly also how good it would be for my CV to help with applications for jobs later on). However, fully embracing just how emotional this may sound, I never knew just what an enormously life-enriching experience joining this orchestra would be beyond that; I hadn’t imagined all the extra, more important things I might learn.

Going into the music profession we are often told by professors and career seminars about the importance of professionalism, not being late, etiquette of trialling etc. but there’s a whole new element of learning that EUYO taught me. It has set me up for a life of music making by showing me what true musicality, energy and spirit is- something I can now take with me forever. The amount of thought, energy and care that’s put into every note that’s played is huge and the audience can hear and feel it.

We’re told that we can move physically as much as we like, each live performance is highly visual as well as being an audio experience. The tradition of hugging each other on stage at the end of each performance is such a powerful symbol to those watching and those playing too.

Some of the most incredible things I’ve seen with the orchestra have been projects such as visiting orphanages in Greece where children had never seen classical musicians perform. I’ll never forget it.

My experiences with the EUYO have taught me true love for music making and the potential power a single performance has. EUYO has set the bar so high for the rest of my life now; I can’t just simply play the notes any more. I strive to reach that level every single day now that I’m in a full time orchestral job; which is so much more than just being a job to me.”

Please sign and share the petition to show your support, and visit www.euyo.eu for other ways to help ensure that one of our greatest treasures lives on to inspire generation after generation to come.

Encore is one of the world’s largest musicians’ networks and the fastest way to find great musicians. Join now for free at www.joinencore.com


James McAulay

Encore Co-Founder & CEO. Cellist, pianist, singer and aspiring guitarist.

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