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City of Belfast Youth Orchestra

CBYO former member profile No.11 Emma King - Percussion 2006-09

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.11 Emma King - Percussion 2006-2009

Hello there, I’m Emma King and I played Percussion in CBYO from 2006 until 2009. During that time I was fortunate enough to play at the Closing Ceremony of the School Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and tour Spain, Italy and Slovenia with the Orchestra. Spending so much time with my colleagues both in rehearsals and on tour led to developing friendships, which remain strong today.

There were many times when I thought; I’d love to have Saturday mornings free instead of doing my usual 60 mile round trip to get to rehearsals, but I’m glad I persevered as being a member of CBYO definitely has had an impact on who I am today as a person.

In 2008 I decided that I wanted to make music my career and applied to music colleges in London. I was offered a place at Guildhall and grabbed it with both hands. I was fortunate to receive the Stephen Parker Memorial Award in 2009. It was an honour to accept the award and be acknowledged by the board for the hard work and determination I had shown throughout my time in the Orchestra.

It wasn’t until I moved to London and played with semi professional orchestras that I realised how high a standard CBYO really is compared to County Youth Orchestras. Simple things that had been drilled into me in Belfast like arriving early before a rehearsal to tune instruments, warming up and sitting properly on your chair were alien to colleagues who had attended similar youth orchestras throughout the UK. I learnt basic life skills that although related to being in the orchestra at the time can be transferred into whatever profession you decide to take after leaving CBYO. Self-discipline, determination, professionalism, good work ethic, having and reaching goals both small and large, preparation, respect, being part of a team and leadership were all instilled in me at CBYO.

I’m currently working for the International Percussion Show STOMP as part of their world tour cast. Although it’s a little different to playing in a professional orchestra and I’ve swapped Timps and Cymbals for bin lids and paint cans, I’m very happy to be travelling the world and making music every day. Hopefully the show comes to Belfast in the future, it would be amazing to play to a home crowd and show my friends and work colleagues where it all started for me, and, the amazing wealth within the arts that is currently on display in the city.

CBYO wouldn’t be complete without Mr Paul McBride and his baton. We had our share of run-ins during the years but you were the first conductor who really encouraged me to push myself to the limit, thank you. The concerts and tours would not have been as successful without the organisational skills of Robert Briscoe and I’ve been on professional tours since that haven’t ran as well as CBYO did. Finally I’d like to say a massive thank you to Mr Michael Smyth for all the hours you spent with me in sectionals at CBYO, helping improve my playing as a percussionist and getting me to the highest level possible during my time in Belfast School of Music, I owe you a few beers Mike!

I have so many fond memories of my time at CBYO, which I will cherish forever. Enjoy every moment of it guys and take as much out of it as you put in to it.

Posted by robert.briscoe on the Tuesday, 06 January 2015