Lurgan girl Rebecca Blaney is ready to hit all the right notes this Summer as she sets off for Ulster Youth Orchestra.
Playing something a little different from your average instrument, Rebecca will join the Orchestra’s Summer Residential Course for ten days with her double bass.
“In Primary 4, Mrs Masterson came to me with what resembled a massive wooden violin, twice the size of my tiny 8-year-old frame,” shared Rebecca.
“To my relief, I was told I didn’t have to play it under my chin! Gradually, as I got to grips with this monster, things improved and I discovered that I could actually handle this implement the size of a small tree - and make something resembling music with it!”
Since first being introduced to the double bass, the 18-year-old has won several awards, including Best Overall Junior String Player in the SELB and the Masterson Cup for Best Overall Lower String player at Newry Feis in 2014 and 2015 - but her ultimate goal was to gain a place on the Ulster Youth Orchestra.
“To my relief and joy, I was accepted in 2014, but didn’t know how much being accepted would affect me,” said Rebecca. “Playing music by renowned composers and gaining leadership and expert advice from my tutor and our conductors not only improved my playing ability on the double bass, but inspired me to take my musical career to the next level.”
After attending the Summer course last year, Rebecca is excited for her return this week, and - following a week of preparation - she will perform with the Orchestra in Derry and the Ulster Hall in Belfast at the end of the month.
“Coming back to UYO this year under the direction of Takuo Yuasa, I can honestly say I have never been more excited - or proud,” Rebecca said. “I think back to that quaking little girl in Primary 4 and, while other children were happily skipping off with flutes and violins under their arms, she was staggering under the weight of something the size of a wardrobe. Yet, all these years later, I realise Mrs Masterson knew best.”
Rebecca definitely plans to keep playing past the Summer, too:
“Last summer’s course convinced me to devote more time and effort to music and, as a result, this autumn I will be auditioning for music college.”