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City of Belfast Youth Orchestra

Former Member Profile No.12 Gareth Stitt - Flute

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 61 yearss !

Profile No.12 Gareth Stitt - Flute 2002-2006

My name is Gareth Stitt and I played flute (but mostly piccolo) in the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra from 2002 to 2006.

During my time in CBYO, I went on two summer tours with the Orchestra. The first was to France, Germany and Poland in 2003 and the second was to the USA in 2005 under the baton of Stanley Foreman. Throughout my time in the orchestra, I got to play at amazing concert venues like the Royal Albert Hall at the Music for Youth Proms in 2006, JFK Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC and the Filharmonia Hall in Krakow.

After the tour to America in 2005, I had just finished my BMus in University of Ulster and wasn’t sure if I was coming back to CBYO. Paul McBride was set to come in as the new conductor of the orchestra and Robert Briscoe was taking his new role of Orchestra Manager. I decided to stay on for another year and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The friendships I formed with people in CBYO 14 years ago are still alive and well today, as some of my best friends in this world are people I met in CBYO all those years ago. I was part of a group of people that, in 2005, set up and arranged the first ever formal and to know that it still runs to this day brings a big smile upon my face.

The amount of work that Robert puts in to making everything about CBYO run so smoothly is unprecedented and he is continuously going far beyond his job description states. Paul is able to get the orchestra to raise their game and play at a level that no youth orchestra on this island comes close to. I’ve had the privilege of working with the orchestra in a welfare role on the last two concert tours to Italy and USA, along with accompanying them on their last 3 Royal Albert Hall trips and I am amazed every time I hear them play. Their recent performance of the last movement from Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony at the Music for Youth Proms in the Royal Albert Hall was as fine a performance from any orchestra I’ve heard – amateur or professional.

When Helen Mackie was Head of Woodwind in the CBSM in 2004, she asked me if I would do some evening teaching cover for my teacher at the time, Richard Douglas, and I jumped at the opportunity. Upon graduation, I started day school teaching for CBSM and taking the flute sectionals in Junior Band – 12 years later, I am still in both of these roles. I am also conducting (hopefully) future members of CBYO in CBSM Junior Winds and my first performance with this group was at the opening CBYO concert of this academic year. In recent years, I have taken up a welfare role with Ulster Youth Choir and Ulster Youth Orchestra.

The tuition and “craic” I got from the City of Belfast School of Music and in particular the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra have inspired me to try my best to make a difference in young peoples’ lives and hopefully they can get the same experiences that I received.

Posted by robert.briscoe on the Saturday, 30 January 2016