Who We Are

Weston Youth Orchestra is a local youth orchestra allowing young musicians in the area the chance to learn orchestral and ensemble skills whilst studying a wide range of repertoire in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Whilst striving for musical quality and the mastering of new techniques, rehearsals are also very much a place to make new friends.

The orchestra is a self funding organisation, run by volunteers and whose operational income is generated solely from public performance ticket sales and membership fees.

Members of the orchestra range in age from 8 to 21 and in ability from grade 3 to grade 8.
Pieces are carefully chosen and (if necessary) parts are arranged so every member of the orchestra has music that is challenging but also within their ability.

The Team

Dennis Cole

Dennis Cole

Director

Diane Parfitt

Diane Parfitt

Conductor

Andrew Barrington

Andrew Barrington

Orchestra Manager

Other Staff

  • Anne Tyler - Tutor
  • Tamsin Winchester - Tutor
  • Alyson Medley - Tutor
  • Sam Elms - Tutor
  • Helen Page - Tutor
  • Colin Tyler - Treasurer

Brief History

Weston Youth Orchestra was founded in 1958 by C.A. Griggs, the local Youth Co-ordinator, and Edward Lamb, a local violinist and violin teacher. Edward Lamb was the first conductor of the orchestra and Dennis Cole was the first leader. On Edward Lambs retirement, Dennis took over as conductor of the orchestra. In the 1960s, a junior orchestra was formed to cater for the varied range of ages and abilities. Over the past 60 years, the orchestra has enjoyed tours to various European countries, including France, Germany, Poland and Sweden. Joint concerts have also been held with other ensembles, including Brass Bands, Folk Bands and African Choirs.
In 2009 Dennis Cole was awarded an MBE for his work with the orchestra and other local groups. Diane Parfitt took over as conductor of the Senior orchestra in 2017, with Dennis remaining the Orchestra’s Director. In 2019 the two orchestras were merged to cater to the current level of membership.

Alumni

Many of the musicians who were members of Weston Youth Orchestra over the years have gone on to forge very successful careers in music. Here are just a few…

Nigel Hess

Nigel was a member of the Weston Youth Orchestra from 1968-1972 as a regular orchestra member, a soloist (Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 1) and also composing pieces for the orchestra. Nigel went on to study music at Cambridge, becoming Musical Director of the Footlights Revue, before embarking on an extremely busy and successful career as an award winning musical director and composer for TV, film and theatre. 
Some of the TV themes you may know include Vanity Fair, Maigret, Dangerfield, Ballykissangel, Wycliffe, New Tricks and Hetty Waithrop Investigates. Nigel’s best-known film score is Ladies in Lavendar which was nominate for a Classical Brit Award.
Nigel was also house composer for the Royal Shakespeare Company and contributed scores for twenty productions, including the Tony Award winning Broadway production of Much Ado About Nothing and Cyrano de Bergerac.

Peter Harrison

Pete was a member of the orchestra in the 1980s. He studied at the Royal College of Music and after graduating went on to follow a busy career as a performer and conductor.
Pete has played extensively in West End productions and is a regular guest conductor with many orchestras including Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra & Manchester Concert Orchestra (for Raymond Gubbay Ltd.) and the Russian State Symphony Orchestra (Novaya Rossiya).
Education has also been a large part of Pete’s musical career and he currently teaches at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department and Wells Cathedral School as well as tutoring for the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales.

Anne Stephenson

Anne played violin in Weston Youth Orchestra in the 1970s and went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. She has since performed with Paul Weller and toured the world as a part of her 3 years as a member of The Communards. Having also performed with Suede, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Madonna, the Manic Street Preachers and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Anne is truly in demand as a violinist.

Frances Dewar

Frances Dewar played violin in the Weston Youth Orchestra in the 1980s and went on to study violin at the Royal College of Music, where she won all the chamber music prizes and gave a recital with her quartet on Classic FM. She completed her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, gaining a distinction in her postgraduate diploma. She has given concerto performances throughout the UK and in France, Germany and Poland, and is now a violinist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Martha McLorinan

Martha McLorinan, a previous leader of the Weston Youth Orchestra, trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she held a scholarship with the BBC National Chorus of Wales, won the Margaret Tann Williams Prize, and graduated with first class honours. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the judges’ discretionary prize at the Thelma King Award and the ensemble prize at the Royal Over-Seas League.
Martha has toured extensively as both a soloist and as a member of Tenebrae, who have been described as “Phenominal” (The Times) and “Devastatingly Beautiful” (Gramaphone Magazine) and Martha was the mezzo-soprano soloist in Tenbrae’s recording of Judith Bingham’s “The Drowned Lovers” (Music of the Spheres, Tenebrae/Nigel Short), which was nominated for a Grammy.

Danny Farrant

Danny played percussion in the Weston Youth Orchestra from around 1997 to 2003. Since 2006, Danny has been the drummer for the legendary punk band Buzzcocks and had previously been associated with other bands such as Spear Of Destiny, Theatre of Had, Bad Manners and The Alarm.
Danny also composes and some of his work includes Louis Theroux’s Bafta nominated “Dark States” documentary and the Emmy and Bafta nominated documentary “White Right, Meeting The Enemy”.