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16 players from Acton area in Ealing Youth Orchestra

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The Ealing Youth Orchestra (EYO), which includes young musicians from Acton, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2009 and is marking the occasion with a range of special concerts throughout the year. On 25 March it will open the Rotary Youth Makes Music concert in the Royal Festival Hall. The orchestra is being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Greenford and the Rotary Club of Hanwell and Northfields to take part and will be performing Shostakovich’s Festive Overture. EYO last played in a Rotary Youth Makes Music concert in 1983, just before its 25th anniversary celebrations, so is particularly delighted the Greenford and Hanwell and Northfields Rotary Clubs invited it to take part in this prestigious event during its 50th anniversary year.

Founded in 1959 by John Railton, then music master at Ealing Grammar School for Boys, Ealing Youth Orchestra’s first concert was hailed by the Ealing Gazette as, “Youth orchestra in ambitious, daring start”. Most of the members of the original 30-strong orchestra came from his own Ealing Grammar School and from Notting Hill and Ealing High School.

Fifty years on, Ealing Youth Orchestra numbers over 80 players aged 13-19 from 28 schools across west London. It has a total of 16 players from the Acton area, who attend the Twyford Church of England High School, and the Ellen Wilkinson High School. The orchestra remains true to its founding vision to serve the interests of the young musicians of the borough of Ealing, giving young players the experience of rehearsing and performing music to a high standard. The orchestra’s music director since September 2006 is Leon Gee, who trained as a violinist and studied conducting at the Birmingham Conservatoire under Jonathan del Mar, and its patron is renowned composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. The orchestra’s rehearsal home is in Acton.

Other highlights of this year’s 50th anniversary concert series include two performances of Verdi’s Requiem, in St Barnabas Church, Ealing (25 April) and in University Hall, Exeter (3 May), both conducted by founder John Railton, a special 4th July concert at St Barnabas in which past members will be invited to play, and a performance of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Momentum on Saturday 7th November 2009. The orchestra will also give four concerts during a week-long tour of Normandy, France in August.

The orchestra would like to hear from as many of its past members as possible. Past members of EYO can get in touch via the orchestra’s website,, where they can register on the alumni database and find out about 50th anniversary events in which they can take part.

For further information about Ealing Youth Orchestra’s activities and how to join the orchestra, go to


March 27, 2009