A public meeting was held in Mount Albert on the 6th November 1985 to start a new orchestra. It was called the Mount Albert Youth Orchestra and it had its first rehearsal at Ferndale on the 19th February 1986. Soon our players were coming from all over Auckland so the name was changed to the Aotea Youth Symphony or AYS, and we outgrew the beautiful Ferndale and moved our rehearsals to the Mount Albert War Memorial Hall. Later we moved again and are generously hosted by Selwyn Village, thank you Selwyn.
The AYS was formed to give young players the opportunity for orchestral experience. Our planned age range was from about 13 to 18, but we soon found that players just wanted to carry on playing with us, and we now have a broader range. We are a community orchestra, we draw our membership from the community and we are a community asset - we perform in the community. And our performances have been varied. A selection of some: we have performed for the Governor General, we have have performed on the QEII, we have performed in front of British Royalty and we have performed on a railway station. We perform on Waiheke and at the annual Domain Concerts. We have performed in small halls in rural New Zealand, at the very top of the Metropolitan Hotel and on the stage of the Sydney Opera House. Our concerts range from our annual formal concert at which we showcase items we have worked on, to staged works such as the "Hits of the Blitz" with Crash 29, to special concerts such as "The Four Senses" for the hard of hearing, and the party atmosphere of the Last Night of the Proms complete with flags, painted faces and some very strange noises from the audience.
And we tour; our next tour is to Tahiti in late April. In the past we have toured to Australia, Japan, Canada, the USA, Germany and China to show large audiences overseas the music that New Zealanders can make, including works specially written for us.
All the time our Music Director has been Paul Harrop ONZM, who guides the Orchestra through the many concerts in many genres that we play, and whos musical knowledge and sound wisdom is a source of inspiration to the players. We rehearse every Tuesday in school terms at Selwyn Village in Point Chevalier from 7:00 to 9:00p.m. and entry to the Symphony is by audition. If you would like to join us fill in the audition form and send it off, we'll get back in touch with you.
So we are an orchestra with a difference, a friendly, supportive and social orchestra. Our players are expected to practise, but they are expected to have fun as well. Check out some of the photos of our tours here and on facebook and come to our next concert. Fun is contagious.