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Sudbrook, Grantham, NG32 3SA
The Oasby Music Group has just celebrated its 5th anniversary, with 12 different ensembles of all ages (5-19) performing a vast
range of repertoire to a packed audience. It all began back in 2013 when the Oasby Music Group was founded by violin teacher Laura
Gardiner. In the very first group, there were 7 young string players, all of whom are still members. Today there are 75 players.
Growing up in Ayrshire and learning Suzuki violin with Brenda Smith, Laura and numerous other children including Nicola Benedetti
benefited enormously from the group sessions and holiday workshops their teacher provided for them. Inspired by the dedication and
c commitment of Brenda to give the best opportunities for her pupils, Laura based the Oasby Music Group on a model that worked for
her, growing up as a young musician in Scotland. She has built on it and developed it in her own way, drawing further inspiration
from another major influence, Vivienne Price, founder of the National Children’s Orchestras.
It is no coincidence that so many of the children are full or associate members of the NCO. In 2018, 20 OMG members are a part of NCO-GB.
The children have always supported one another as well. OMG really is a group you belong to. Everyone is needed for rehearsals and performances – especially in small ensembles – and children make a commitment to their chamber playing and to one another. And from the
camaraderie of performing together, comes generosity about solo performances – even when one inevitably scores higher than
another in an exam or competition. No, playing chamber music doesn’t turn children into angels – but it does help them find
ways to get along!
Ensemble playing is the essence of belonging to OMG from the moment the youngest players join. As children progress through
theensembles, playing more and more demanding repertoire, they still return to the more elementary groups to act as mentors
- typically standing behind the younger players, playing parts with them and pointing out notes on the music if they get lost.
At the recent anniversary concert, the original members of the Oasby Music Group stood with the current youngest players and
performed side by side.
It is worth reflecting on some of the achievements of the original members in the past 5 years. Setting aside some impressive exam results and festival appearances, all 7 became members of the NCO-GB; 3 performed with Nicola Benedetti in a concert on her Four Seasons Tour; 2 have played in the Chineke! Junior Orchestra and have places in the NCCO; 1 was named Lincolnshire Primary Young Performer 2017 and another in 2018; 1 has been awarded a place at music school; 1 now studies with a world-class teacher and has given a solo recital; and 4 are this year’s National Under-12 Chamber Music Champions. That’s a hard act to follow, but none of them knew they were going to be any good when they first played together aged between 4 and 8. So OMG’s current youngest players have every reason to aim high - everything to play for, and everything to practise for.
From the very first Summer, OMG has run school holiday courses open to all young string players. We have had tutors the from the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music, Trinity Conservatoire, National Conservatoire of Scotland and Birmingham Conservatoire; but we also draw on the considerable music teaching talent and experience available locally. We’ve involved year-12 and 13 musicians as mentors and three of these mentors are now all studying music at conservatoire and university and regularly return to tutor the current OMG members. The mentor scheme is currently being widened and developed to include our younger students as well. Special events have included percussion workshops with the Principal Percussionist of Opera North, and coaching from both the Villiers String Quartet and The Stringcredibles; and of course the most special event of all was when Nicola Benedetti and Leonard Elschenbroich came to work with the children in October 2017.
Looking to the future, amongst other things in the diary, our intermediate and advanced ensemble groups will be working with
Tasmin Little, Nicola Benedetti and Jonathan Bloxham in early 2019 and later in the year with the Carducci Quartet.
They are also about to embark on their first international tour, taking the two most advanced ensembles to Belgium in February '19.
We’re bound to wonder what the group will look like in five years’ time. Who knows?
One thing we can say for sure: five years ago, nobody would have predicted anything like this!