Camden Youth Orchestra is one of the borough’s senior ensembles, catering for players of orchestral instruments who play at an advanced level. It rehearses for only four intensive weekends a year, performs in major London venues and undertakes foreign tours.
Riashat Hossain, a sixth-form pupil at Camden School for Girls, has recently been appointed Leader of the orchestra. Riashat started violin at Rhyl Primary School and has attended the borough’s Saturday Music Centre since he was 11. He is the current holder of the Bob Litchfield violin – an instrument we were able to buy with a generous donation from former LEA chief Robert Litchfield, who started the Camden Schools’ Music Festivals at the Royal Albert Hall. The Bob Litchfield violin is loaned to pupils who are making excellent progress in violin playing, and who need a better instrument than the models we have in our hire stock.
We talked to Riashat after the first weekend of rehearsals for this season:
Riashat, you’ve just been appointed as Leader of the Camden Youth Orchestra – what does that involve?
It’s an astonishing feeling being the leader of the Camden Youth Orchestra. It involves arriving at rehearsals 20 minutes early to get everything ready, practice difficult passages and communicating with relevant staff. Also, being in this role requires me to look after present as well as new members of the orchestra and making them feel welcome. The leader position will provide me with a lot of experience for the future regardless of the career. It also provides valuable knowledge as a player about how to approach diverse types of music. In addition, I have developed leadership skills such as managing my section while communicating with the conductor and tutors regarding preparation for rehearsals. The leader position will enhance my ability to be a team player as well as leading it. I am gaining valuable experience which will prepare me for the future.
How did you start playing the violin and how long have you been learning?
I came across the violin at the start of Year 3 at Rhyl Primary School, I wanted to learn to play the violin ever since I found out the magnificent sound it produces and about orchestral playing; and it was a chance to meet with other young musicians who share the same experience. I have been involved in various other ensembles which lead me to CYO. I’ve been playing the violin for 10 years running.
How long have you been in the Orchestra? What other memorable things have you done as a member?
I have been with the Camden Youth Orchestra since 2005. During this time, the orchestra has gone abroad a couple of times to Germany and France. This was an exceptional experience for me as it gave me a chance to share music across countries. Another thing was performing at the Royal Albert Hall, this was a big experience for me and it was my first time playing at such a colossal venue. Finally, the most memorable event was being loaned the Bob Litchfield violin by Camden Music Services. It was such an honour to be able to play the violin of someone who has devoted himself to Camden’s pupils.
Have you played at the Albert Hall before? Is it fun? What is it like backstage?
Yes, I’ve played at the Albert Hall twice in 2008 and 2010, it was an incredible experience both times and I did enjoy myself a lot. Being backstage is relaxing, although the real excitement is walking through the tunnel and getting ready to perform.