The ‘Donegal Youth Orchestra’ has been going from strength to strength. With members from all over Donegal, music is what brings these young people together. Reporter Kate Haley catch up with the Youth Orchestra’s leader, violinist Joanne Cuffe, for her take on this youth establishment.
How many members are in the Youth Orchestra?
There are about 50 members in total, not too big but not too small!
Do you enjoy the whole experience?
Very much so, playing as part of an orchestra is great craic and a great musical experience.
What made you want to join?
I heard about the orchestra through a friend. I immediately like the sound of it because I had very few opportunities to perform in public on violin before this.
How much do you have to practice?
The orchestra rehearse every two weeks on a Friday evening and more regularly coming up to concerts. We all get practice parts to take home and go over any tricky parts in the music as well but its not too bad!
What’s the farthest anyone has to travel to get to practices?
Our members are from all over Donegal. We have members from Bundoran, Glenties, Buncrana, even Longford! Some people have to travel for over an hour to get to rehearsals and that takes real dedication!
What’s been your favourite moment playing with the orchestra?
I have a lot of fond memories of the orchestra! My favourite moments were playing in the National Concert Hall in Dublin and playing with the famous Donegal group Altan.
Do you find everyone works well as a group?
Definatly, every member has a part to play, however big or small to make a piece come to life. The music really brings everyone together and everyone works well as a team!
Are you considering a future in music?
Yes I am considering studying music in college and hopefully being in an orchestra will open new doors for me and I will get to experience the opportunities it brings with it.
What’s the best thing about the Orchestra?
You gain so much musical knowledge and make loads of new friends who all share the same interest in music.
What’s the worst thing about the Orchestra?
Having to move all the big percussion instruments around for each rehearsal, it takes a lot of muscle!
Tell us something we didn’t know about the Orchestra?
Strangely enough, there are actually four sets of twins in the Orchestra!
Are you in any other music groups?
Yes, I’m in quite a few. I’m in the Donegal Chamber Orchestra, EGO (Errigal Groove Orchestra), Amici Choir and a band!
What made you want to be leader of the Orchestra?
I had been in the orchestra and other groups for a good few years and I thought that now I could help the younger members with my experience. I thought I would learn a lot of skills socially and musically. Most of all I thought I would really enjoy it, so I auditioned and got the role as leader!
Do you play any other instruments aside from violin?
Yes, I play the piano, viola and I love to sing.
What would you say to anyone considering joining the Orchestra?
I would say, definitely come and give it a go. It is very different experience than playing solo and you get a great buzz from being part of it! The orchestra can produce a really rich sound from the combination of all the instruments, it’s amazing being a part of it.