Music student Toby Anderson is celebrating his appointment as a composer for the National Youth Orchestra a prestigious role which has been held by some of the country’s best known musicians.
‘This unrivalled experience of excellence in these formative years is powerful, transformational and lasting. Toby will join what many believe to be one of the most important artistic institutions in the world.’ National Youth Orchestra. The young musicians will enjoy a very memorable year in which they work with exceptionally talented young musicians, perform in the finest concert halls in the UK, under the world’s leading conductors.
Composers are a unique and distinctive feature of NYO that you won’t find in any other youth orchestra. They work together with the musicians to explore new symphonic compositions and write pieces both for the whole orchestra to play as well and for diverse ensembles. The resulting compositions have, in the past, been performed in unusual public places from Tate Modern galleries to the Peace Bridge in Derry -Londonderry.
Toby describes how he became involved in music and composing in particular. ‘I started playing both piano and cello when I was five years old and immediately loved performing pieces. I enjoyed practicing and worked very hard to get better but I was never a naturally gifted prodigy performer. When I was nine years old, my primary school music teacher decided to put on a composition competition to encourage us to write music. I decided to give it a go and produced a complete mess of a piece but because I was the only one who entered the competition, my piece won the prize.
From then on I must have decided I must be incredibly musically gifted at composition and therefore asked my parents for the computer composition software, Sibelius, for Christmas. For several years I would churn out pieces that slowly but surely became a little more refined. At the same time my parents, who is keenly into classical music, decided to try and develop an interest in me too by showing me their favourite pieces. After a while I started developing favourite pieces too and wanted to emulate the things I loved most about classical music into my own compositions. This culminated in me buying the scores for great works that I loved listening to and studied them closely to understand what was in the music that I connected to so much.
At the same time I decided to start educating myself in composition and orchestration as I started to realise I was getting better at it. Finally in February 2016, I decided to audition/interview for the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music to study Composition. I showed them my pieces and talked about my influences and they gave me a place on the spot. In my first term at the Academy, there was a Carol writing competition for which I wrote my first ever choral piece which won first prize, which led to it being performed. This was a defining moment for me because it was the first time people had played my music and made me decided it was what I wanted to do in the future. Since then I have been busy writing many more pieces for the Academy which have all been performed and well received. I decided to apply for NYO in the spring of 2016 and my portfolio was rejected outright. However when I reapplied this year they offered me an interview in September where I spent all day talking about my portfolio and attitudes towards music. A few weeks later they offered me a position for Composer in Residence.
Over 700 people applied for the position of composer and 4 people have been appointed. I am beyond thrilled that they accepted me and it means I will be able to write music and collaborate with the best musicians in the country on three different residential courses. I am very excited for the year ahead.’
Toby will follow in the footsteps of a previous student Daniel Garel who was appointed to this prestigious position in 2014. He will be performing with over 60 other musicians at the College Christmas Concert on the 6th December