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City of Belfast Youth Orchestra

Former Member Profile No.7 George Sandford 2009-12

Every few weeks we will be profiling a former member of CBYO and catching up with what they have been doing since leaving the orchestra. We aim to start with recent members and work back through the last 59 years !

Profile No.7 George Sandford - Trumpet 2009-2012

My name is George Sandford and, in the years 2009-2012, I was a member of the trumpet section of the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra. After Upper Sixth I left Belfast to study music at the University of Manchester and am now coming to the end of my second year.

My time at the orchestra has provided me with some of the most happy and also most challenging moments of my life so far. Experiences that I would imagine staying with any former member of the orchestra would be the amazing concert tours that the orchestra is fortunate enough to be able to go on and being afforded the opportunity to play in the Royal Albert Hall in London


I can honestly say how enjoyable they are and how much of a lasting impression the made on me. Furthermore, the repertoire that this orchestra gets through as well is absolutely phenomenal. Having the opportunity to play Shostakovich’s epic fifth symphony and two Tchaikovsky symphonies, to name but a few works, is an opportunity that members of other youth orchestras simply do not have. The friendships you make are another amazing consequence of being in this orchestra.

Spending your Saturday mornings with the same group of people over the year means that you form some of the closest and long-lasting friendships you could hope to have Even now that most of my ‘generation’ of the orchestra have all gone their separate ways, it is still really nice to catch up with them over the holidays.

The orchestra has made as much of an impact on me now as it did when I was a member. It was definitely one of the major factors in my choice to go on and study music at university. Many of the skills that I gained with the orchestra I have been able to take with me and have proved invaluable. The high and professional standards that are expected of every single member of the orchestra were directly transferable to professional playing situations that I have found myself in whilst studying in Manchester.

A special mention must go to two individuals in particular who make the orchestra the incredible organisation that it is. Mr Briscoe’s tireless efforts over the years as the manager of the orchestra, have culminated in amazing concert tours, events within Northern Ireland, and have kept the orchestra the well run machine that it is. Rarely do you ever find him when he is not planning the next big project for the orchestra! Mr McBride is an extraordinarily committed man and a fantastic conductor. His attitude to music making is what draws the full potential out of each and every player and is the reason why the orchestra’s concerts carry such a high musical reputation.

All in all, as you’ve probably realised from what I’ve written above, I cannot praise the orchestra highly enough. The only piece of advice I could possibly give to any member of the orchestra is to simply get stuck in, do everything and make the most of your time there, because it is bound to be over far too quickly!

Posted by robert.briscoe on the Saturday, 28 June 2014