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Bookings open for Christmas 2017

Hello to all members and friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

The days are getting shorter and winter is on its way but Holiday Orchestra is ready to see out 2017 with another brilliant festive course. When Christmas is over and New Year not yet arrived, we shall be making music and having fun at West Road Concert Hall. With David Minchin as Course Director, Steve Bingham as orchestral conductor/senior string tutor, and a fantastic line-up of tutors and activities, we are sure to have something to offer to every musical child and young person. From Percussion Games with Anthony Paul and Folk for Fun with Iain Mann, through strings, bands, choirs and many other sections all the way to Symphony Orchestra, there is a huge range of interests and expertise. The Orchestra will be playing Marquez Danzon no.2, which is a South American piece, made famous by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra from Venezuela.

This time, our taster instrument is the bassoon, the lowest of the woodwind and an instrument of great character. Be warned, we can only manage a group of 10, so please book very early and be prepared to be disappointed if we are already full.

One word: our Summer Course was long, busy and exciting, and we did have some problems with excited children. Our Child Behaviour Policy directs us to telephone parents if necessary, but we much prefer not to have to do so. Therefore, to avoid having any more monkeys balancing on the auditorium balconies, please would all parents and carers impress on their children that safety for all and consideration for others are of paramount importance. Holiday Orchestra adults are acting in loco parentis and must be listened to.

Meanwhile, choose an action-packed programme of music from around the world and join us at West Road Concert Hall from Wednesday 27th to Saturday 30th December. As our unofficial slogan says: “Make Music, Make Friends”.

Lydia Hill, Chair, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

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Holiday Orchestra is now resting after a truly amazing Summer Course. Our project to invest the Suter Family Trust money, together with that from the winding-up of the Sine Nomine Choir, to commission a piece of music from Maurice Hodges for choir and orchestra and to present it at a Gala Concert was a big event for Holiday Orchestra but succeeded brilliantly. Many thanks to the donors, to Maurice and Thanea Hodges, Russell Keable, SmolOrch, and all the children. The collection for three children’s charities, as per Grade1athon, raised over £600. We shall soon be finalising arrangements for the Christmas Course, 27-30th December and we hope to see you there. Full details at the end of half-term week.

The Committee.

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Summer 2017 course

We look forward to seeing you all at the course this week. If you are looking to remind yourself of the timetable, please consult page 2 of the Booking Form Summer 2017.

Our mobile phone number during course hours only is 07930 930049. Please note that this phone is switched off for the other 352 days of the year!

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Summer 2017 course now full.

Due to the large numbers of bookings we have already received for all sessions, we regret that we cannot now accept any more bookings for our summer course. We apologise to anyone who has missed out this time, and hope to see you instead at our Christmas course beginning on 27th December. If you have submitted a booking in the last few days, we will contact you individually.

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Bookings open for Summer 2017

Hello to all Holiday Orchestra people and welcome to our Summer Course, 2017.

We have planned a huge range of music to please children and young people aged from 7 to 18. Our core activities, bands, string groups, choirs and orchestras, as always form the heart of the programme, with jazz, recorders, gamelan, ukuleles, djembe drumming, music games, music theory, brass workshop and double-bass tasting giving something for everyone to fill their time with music. The Music Theory section, given by the incomparable Kirsty Body, will, as last year, cover the basic subjects of the Grade 5 exam but cannot, in the time, do everything. The Course Director will be Russell Keable, and the dates are August 21st to 24th for the lower sections, plus the next day, the 25th, for the upper sections.

One very exciting development this year is our new commission. We are very grateful to have been given a considerable sum of money by Alison and Alan Suter, following the winding-up of the Suter Prize. The prize was endowed by their parents for Cambridge Youth Music’s annual Young Musician of the Year, but this has recently become too difficult to administer. The Suter family has decided to entrust us with the use of this money and so we were delighted when Maurice Hodges agreed to write a piece for us, for the Upper Orchestra and the 10+ and 9+ choirs. The text chosen is Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s beautiful poem “Ode”, which starts “We are the music makers”.

The choirs will perform the piece in the piano version in the Upper Presentation on the afternoon of the last day, Friday 25th August, but the full orchestral premiere will take place that evening. We are planning an extra concert – a Gala Concert – at West Road, as a one-off special event for the premiere of ‘Music Makers’ and because Holiday Orchestra has a lot to be proud of and to enjoy. Together with Maurice’s song, we will have Brahms from the Orchestra, a selection from the 10+ choir and a return visit from ‘Smolorch’. Smolorch is a small orchestra put together by an enterprising bunch of sixth-formers (largely Holiday Orchestra related) who thrilled us last year with their lunch-time performance. We are grateful that, between exams and holidays, they have agreed to come and play for us again.

So it will be a fabulous evening, with time for a glass of something together afterwards and a retiring collection in aid of a suitable charity. Ticketing systems will be explained later. Parents of children in the 9+ choir may have already realised that those children will be needed in the afternoon and evening of the fifth day, contrary to our usual policy of trying not to tire them out too much. Every effort will be made to make that day easier for them and we are sure they will rise to the occasion!

Looking forward to seeing you for what promises to be a wonderful week in August.

Best regards,

Lydia Hill, Chair of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

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After a whirlwind of an Easter Course with much happy music-making, Holiday Orchestra is now planning the Summer Course, August 21st – 25th. Lots of exciting things will be happening and members will be informed by e-mail when booking is about to commence. We expect this to be sometime in June. We look forward to seeing you in August, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

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Bookings open for Easter 2017

Hello to all members and friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

We now have our Easter Course programme ready for booking, and we hope that you will want to join us. We are back at West Road with Russell Keable as our Course Director, so we can enjoy the facilities at West Road and can offer a wide range of musical possibilities.

Dan Ecclestone is bringing his keyboards, xylophones and glockenspiels for two sessions of cumulative music building under the title of Fireflies / Bright Lights for Keyboards and Percussion. No previous experience is required, only ears, eyes and fingers, but the electronic keyboards should give Holiday Orchestra pianists a chance to use their expertise.

We also have three Djembe drumming sessions with Kirsty Body and three Gamelan sessions with Robert Campion. Of course there are string groups, bands and choirs at every level, plus recorders and ukuleles, all giving the children four days of making music and making friends, with two brilliant presentations at the end. Our aim is for children to experience the thrill of making music together. We hope you will find our programme irresistible, and we look forward to seeing you at West Road from April 10th to 13th.


Lydia Hill,

Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

P.S. Don’t forget our second-hand music scheme. Bring and Buy!

Visit the booking page to book a place at the course.

Bookings open for Christmas 2016 course!

Hello to all Holiday Orchestra members and friends

Christmas is coming (!) and with it comes Holiday Orchestra’s Christmas/New Year Course. This year we shall be at the West Road Concert Hall from December 27th to December 30th inclusive.  Trevor Barlow, our Course Director for Christmas for the last several years, has decided to take a well-earned break from the job but we are very pleased to be able to say that David Minchin has enthusiastically stepped into the breach.  Many of you already know David as a Brass tutor and, much as we shall miss Trevor, we are sure David will be a brilliant Director.  As strings are not his thing, we have persuaded Steve Bingham, local violinist and conductor extraordinaire, to come and tutor the strings and Orchestra.  This should be really exciting, and he will also give us a recital/demonstration of his amazing violin – plus electronics – at lunchtime on Thursday 29th. Also on that day, at 11 am, we shall be holding our AGM in the foyer at West Road.  We very much hope you will be able to attend.

Other news: we were disappointed in the summer that Iain Mann was too busy to help us, but now he is back with his amazing ‘Folk For Fun’ for all-comers, plus a new offering – ‘Gypsy Swing’ for Grade 4 and up on suitable instruments.  Ukulele enthusiasts, aged 11 and over and of at least Grade 3 standard on any instrument, are invited to join him after lunch.

Also new is Anthony Paul’s ‘Body Percussion’ which promises to be genuinely funny as well as fun!  Adam Dopadlik’s Advanced Recorders, which produced some lovely music in the summer, is set to continue as an advanced ensemble.

Everything else which you expect from Holiday Orchestra is there as usual, providing a sense of progress through the world of music.  The Orchestra, in many ways the culmination of this progress, will no doubt be inspired to play with the joy of youth , and will send us off into 2017 in good spirits.

The Committee is now looking for a new member.  Jyoti Khadake, who has looked after our website for five years, together with sorting the second-hand music sales, has taken on some exciting new roles at her work and cannot always be in the right time and place for Holiday Orchestra.  The website, obviously, is very important and needs to be kept up to date on a rolling basis.  However, the work involved is purely to take things off and put things on, all of which are provided by other members of the Committee, so no deeper knowledge of our workings is required. Please get in touch online if you would like to know more, or come and see us at the desk during the Course or at the AGM.  We would be very grateful.

Meanwhile, we hope you will find plenty to enjoy in this programme and we look forward to seeing you in the last days of the year. The online booking system can be found here.


Lydia Hill, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra



Holiday Orchestra held one of its best ever (it always seems like that) courses at the end of August this year. 346 children had a brilliant time and made a lot of music.
    We are now constructing the Christmas Course, (Dec. 27th – 30th) and when it is complete, around half-term, we shall be sending it out to members and displaying it on this site.
    We hope you will like it.