Since its foundation in 1959, the GCDYO has been an independent charity managed entirely by a committee of volunteer enthusiasts, and staffed by voluntary school and instrumental teachers.
The GCDYO’s formation was stimulated by a residential course of the Leicestershire County Schools’ Orchestra at Cleethorpes Girls’ Grammar School. (The LSSO website has photos of this occasion.) George Cave, John White and Geoffrey Watson each contributed £1 to a kitty to cover the postage of invitations to audition at South Parade School on 25 and 26 September 1959. Between 90-100 young people aged 8-18 were selected to form the Symphony Orchestra whose first concert, which included a Recorder Section directed by Alan Bolsover, was on January 22nd 1960.
A formal constitution was adopted in February 1960 whose stated objectives included the provision of ensemble music making opportunities, the performance of public concerts, and the establishment of a music school instrumental instruction. It is also interesting to note that Capt. Sidney Keene joined John Hall “in the formation and training of the brass band”.
The story of the subsequent development from the original Symphony Orchestra and recorder sections catering for increasing numbers of young musicians learning to play instruments in schools, is long. Many teachers and musicians were involved, among whom it would be unfair to single out any in this account.
Now the organisation caters for several hundred young people aged from 8-25, from the very first grade to the stage where they can play in a near professional orchestral concert, achieving standards that enable some to make successful careers in music and others to fulfil an equally rewarding role in the amateur field. The orchestra is divided into many sections, ranging from the beginners in the Young Musicians Section to The Symphony Orchestra and Swing Band. Included within this wide spectrum are chamber ensembles, percussion groups and choirs. The nature and size of the individual sections varies according to the aptitudes and abilities of the youngsters coming to the orchestra from local schools.
Each section performs annually at a major public concert – Christmas and New Year, Valentines Day, “Last Night of the Proms” etc. The GCDYO also undertakes various other concerts for charitable events and public occasions in the area.