Easter 2021 plans

A Happy New Year to all Holiday members and friends. May 2021 bring us a safe return to normal Holiday Orchestra.
We were very proud of our Christmas ‘virtual’ Course with bands, string groups, choirs and jazz. Although it is a pale reflection of our usual happy, bustling courses full of busy children, it is for the time being the best thing to do. Unless a miracle happens we shall again be ‘virtual’ at Easter and our amazing tutors will delight and inspire from a distance via small screens. I am sure our Easter Course will have something for everyone, so look out for information and booking forms around half-term.
Best wishes,
Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Booking now open for Christmas course

Welcome to Holiday Orchestra’s Christmas Course, 28th – 31st Dec. 2020.

Our Course Director for this online Christmas Course is Russell Keable and he has produced an amazing set of ‘zoom’ activities for musical fun and enjoyment during the Christmas holidays.
We have bands, strings, choirs and jazz, so for all details and booking information please visit



Hello to all friends of Holiday Orchestra.
Life with SARS-CoV-19 is still a life without personal contact, and so we must continue to make music at a distance. With this in mind we have put together a course for the Christmas holidays with as much interaction as our tutors can invent. It will all be ‘live’ teaching on ‘Zoom’ with an accent on fun and participation.

There will be two levels each of band groups, string groups and choirs. These sessions will be for one hour each on all four days.
There will also be two jazz workshops for one hour each on the middle two days.
The jazz, strings and band Zoom groups will include optional individual recordings, probably audio-only, to be made during the course as the tutors will explain.

Full details, other information and booking forms will be available soon and we hope you will find much to cheer up your Christmas holiday.
Lydia Hill.


Summer 2020 summary

Holiday Orchestra’s summer 2020 season is now over. We have enjoyed a brilliant Junior
(zoom) choir, an upbeat Grade 5 Theory taster course and finally the triumph of the Young
Person’s Guide to Holiday Orchestra. I think Henry Purcell would be really proud if he could
hear his music played by 76 children, all recorded separately but all aware that they were part
of a greater whole.
Many, many thanks are due to everyone who has made it possible for Holiday Orchestra to
come together at this difficult time. We have had to learn a lot about virtual orchestras, zoom
choirs and live zoom teaching and also how to handle all this by website and email but it has
really been worth it.
Thanks therefore to Russell Keable, Stephen Eglen, Josh Kemp, Kirsty Body, Rebecca
Duckworth, all the other tutors, the Holiday Orchestra Committee and all the parents and their
wonderful children for keeping music alive with this project.
Holiday Orchestra will continue to do whatever is possible according to events and
developments. If we have to stay ‘virtual’ for a while we will, but will also take the first
opportunity to meet in reality and make music together.

With best wishes from all of us,
Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Booking now open for Summer 2020 courses

Here it is!! Holiday Orchestra’s programme for Summer 2020!!

Booking is now open for all three of our online offerings. For stand-alone information and booking forms for each of these projects, please follow the links.

For ‘A Young Person’s Guide to Holiday Orchestra’ – our virtual orchestra to be assembled from recordings made at home by individual children, with a tutorial video and downloadable parts for all levels of orchestral instruments and recorders, please visit

For Kirsty Body’s ‘Grade 5 Theory: The Basics’ – a 4×1 hour course over 4 days via Zoom, covering the basics of the Grade 5 Theory syllabus and including a worksheet, please visit

For Rebecca Duckworth’s ‘Junior Zoom Choir’ – a one hour explosion of vocal fun, please visit

Please note: the two Zoom projects necessarily have number limits so we apologise in advance to anyone who is eventually disappointed. However, Holiday Orchestra will be back at full strength as soon as Covid-19 allows. In the meantime we hope you will enjoy these online projects, making music together while apart. Now follow the links, sign up for some music, and we’ll see you again soon.

Best wishes, from Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra Association.


Possibilities for 2020

Dear friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

Holiday Orchestra is watching and waiting for an opportunity for us all
to make music together once again. There are, of course, many problems.
This year’s summer course in late August cannot go ahead so we are
looking at possibilities for distance participation. We would like to
organise a ‘virtual orchestra’, where one piece of music is chosen,
parts for all instruments and various levels of difficulty can be
downloaded, parents of individual children can send us a recording
(with or without video) of them playing their part, and we will put it
together to make an orchestra. This requires considerable time,
expertise and sophisticated equipment, which we might not be able to

Failing this, we could go for the simpler alternative of just asking
parents and carers to help children in various categories to make
recordings of their solo playing of any music they really love, with
video if possible, to send them to us and we will make a
‘presentation’of these solo offerings. This of course loses the
‘togetherness’ that is at the heart of Holiday Orchestra, but music
must go on, and combining individual performances to create a group
offering may be the next best thing in these difficult circumstances.
We will let you know in good time which way Holiday Orchestra is

Then, in hopes that schools will be running, that we won’t be in the
middle of a second peak, and that the fear of being told to
self-isolate in the event of possible contact will not be too acute, we
are thinking of the possibility of a single ‘orchestra day’ in the
October half-term holiday. Also we really hope to be able to run
something like a normal Christmas Course, sadly probably without
choirs. Both of these possible events require large numbers of people
being together indoors, which may still be impossible. However, even an
outdoor ‘percussion day’ would be an enjoyable release of musical

We will return to full strength one day, and even if your children are
taking a bit of a musical break, there will be a place for all of us at
Holiday Orchestra next year. Our message of ‘Make Music, Make Friends’
will not be lost.

With very best wishes,

Lydia Hill, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra Association


Summer 2020

To all friends of Holiday Orchestra:
As you can imagine, it is impossible for us to run or plan a Holiday Orchestra course under the current regulations for the control of the COVID 19 epidemic. We have hopes for some kind of musical get-together in late summer for our children and young people but of course that will depend on many things. If anything musical does become possible we will let you all know as soon as we can be reasonably sure.
Meanwhile, I hope you are all managing to make some music in your lives; mankind has never flourished without music. Holiday Orchestra will be back before long, and with renewed energy!

Wishing you all well,
Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Easter 2020 cancellation

Dear Parents and Carers, members of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra,

We are very sorry to have to say that following the developments of the
Covid-19 virus outbreak we feel we have no alternative but to cancel this
Easter’s Course. We see no possibility of keeping everyone safe, so we must
join the huge number of organisations in temporarily shutting down. Apart
from direct concern for Holiday Orchestra staff, children and their
families there is also our responsibility to delay spread within the
population so that the NHS will be able to look after more people overall.

As far as we know, this is the first time that Holiday Orchestra has had to
cancel a course in its 67 year history and we have every intention of
coming back as soon as possible. We will have to watch forecasts when
planning for the Summer and will keep you all informed via email and the

Many of you have already booked places for this Easter Course and you will
be contacted by email concerning repayment of fees. The Committee have
agreed that all tutors who had already been booked for this course should
be paid in full.

This is a difficult time and maybe represents a new normality. However, the
importance of music is greater than ever in sustaining the human spirit, so
make as much music as you can and come back to Holiday Orchestra at the
first opportunity.

Look after yourselves,

Lydia Hill (Chairman), David Minchin (Course Director) and Russell Keable
(Music Director)


Bookings open for Easter 2020

Hello to all Holiday Orchestra people.

Our Easter Course is now fully organised and we have lots of exciting
things to offer. As always at Easter we cater more for the younger
children – the older ones are supposed to be working for their exams
(!) – so the course runs from 9.30am to 1.20pm. We shall be at The
Perse School’s Performing Arts Centre from Monday 6th April to
Thursday 9th April, in very pleasant surroundings and usually with
plenty of parking. Our Course Director is the ever-popular David
Minchin and he has gathered a brilliant team of tutors. On Wednesday
8th April at 1.30pm the djembe drumming sections will be presenting
their work to parents and carers and on Thursday 9th April the main
presentations will be in the afternoon.

As always we have our core activities of string groups, bands and choirs
plus many other things of note. We are delighted that our folk-dancing
specialists, after last year’s first-time great success, have agreed to
come back and do it all again – such fun, such good exercise and so good
for the sense of rhythm. Recorders will be taught in two ways: the usual
two groups of experienced players and also a new group for absolute
beginners. This is necessarily a small group! Please bring a named
descant recorder, although we have a few we can lend. Our taster
instrument this time is the viola – the butt of many an orchestral joke,
which only shows how important it is. More mellow than the violin,
easier to carry than the ‘cello, not usually required to do the scary
stuff like the violins, and always welcome in an orchestra, the viola is
an instrument to be proud of. Come and try it and fall in love.

As you know, we depend very much on Parent Helpers to keep our
child/adult ratios straight, to help with the registers and to help deal
with any problems that may arise. We have a wonderful team of people who
come back willingly time after time and have become very much part of
Holiday Orchestra. However, we would like to encourage new people to
give it a try. No musical knowledge is needed but we always try to
accommodate people’s preferences for particular sections. We also have
tea, coffee and biscuits…..

On a sterner note, at our last course one of the presentations was
seriously disrupted by a noisy toddler running about. This is not really
fair on the children who have worked so hard and behaved so well all
week. If you have a small child who might become bored, please sit at
the back of the auditorium and make a swift exit with the child if
things become difficult. Thank you.

Looking forward to another happy time of music-making, we hope to see
you there.

Lydia Hill, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.


Bookings now open for Christmas 2019

Hello to everyone supportive of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

We are very happy to present the programme for our Christmas course which is as full of good things as a Christmas stocking! We have not one but two maestros (maestri?) to inspire us – Russell Keable, our wonderful Music Director will be running the course, while Finan Jones, who was so popular last year, will be conducting the Orchestra and tutoring the bands.

Meanwhile, every space around the West Road Concert Hall will be filled with Holiday Orchestra activity. Stu Hanna will bring us more folk music and some ukuleles, Stephanie Reeve will be directing a saxophone choir and we also plan to offer taster sessions on the French horn. The horn is arguably the hardest of the brass instruments to play but in return it makes a sound of ethereal beauty and purity. As always, there will be three string groups, three bands, two choirs, percussion games, gamelan, recorders and the Christmas orchestra. The orchestra is planning to play Stravinsky’s thrilling Firebird Suite and our very own commission Hogmanay by Kelvin Towse, combining orchestra and choir. We shall be needing some adult singers!

A few housekeeping points. Firstly, the general register, for signing in and out of the building, is of vital importance for tracing every child, for instance in the event of a fire. Even if you are only going out for half an hour, please sign out and then sign in again. Otherwise a firefighter might risk their life looking for a child within a burning building when in fact that child is safe elsewhere. Secondly, food mess on the floor is sometimes a problem for the West Road cleaner. Please do ask your child to be careful. Thirdly, although folk music in different parts of the world uses any and every instrument, we have to say that Holiday Orchestra folk sessions cannot include brass instruments nor saxophones.

The course is spread on both sides of New Year – 30th and 31st December plus 2nd and 3rd January. There can’t be a better way of starting 2020, so do come and join us at West Road for our Christmas Course 2019/2020.

Lydia Hill
Chairman, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

Please sign up, or just browse the course schedule, at: