CSG Training orchestra and Junior Choir at Hay's Galleria

John Catlow's career change (aged 40) from Orchestral Musician to Secondary School Head of Music was the catalyst that led to his involvement with Youth Orchestras and Choral Conducting. Here are some of his thoughts on the subject.

"During the 1980s the world of music education was dominated by a certain kind of populism - "Today's kids won't wear classical music. You must meet them on their own ground" - etc. If you ran a series of pop groups you were doing far better than if you ran a symphony orchestra. This sort of approach was quite hopeless for me. I was naturally at home with an orchestra, as I had spent 20 years in that environment. I felt that you could present pupils with the challenge of classical music, with a particular focus on instrumental ensemble and orchestra."

CSG orchestra on tour in The Netherlands
"My experience at Camden School for Girls proved this by having a full symphony orchestra of 50/60 players, plus a training orchestra, all through my 18 years at the school with invaluable support from an expert team of visiting instrumental tutors. What will always live in my m370emory are the tours. These offered the additional bonus of several days of concentrated music making and the possibility of enhanced standards of playing. Audiences always thought we were a specialist music school! We formed a routine of a biennial summer trip to Europe: France, Holland and Belgium and Germany. We went to the German Rhineland three times."
Rehearsing Camden Youth Orchestra on tour in the Black Forest
Camden Youth Orchestra

"In 1992, after the disbanding of the Inner London Education Authority, it fell to the London boroughs to provide their own music service. I was invited by Peter West, the borough music advisor, to found a youth orchestra for Camden Borough. From modest beginnings the orchestra has become a well established ensemble which has regularly appeared at the Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican Church of St Giles and other central London venues.

For the last three years the orchestra has attended a residential course. In July 2007 the orchestra took part in a festival of English Schools in the Black Forest, Germany."


2008 activities

Farewell to Camden Youth Orchestra 2010

Rehearsing Camden Youth Orchestra on tour in the Black Forest

Post tour concert


John Catlow - 'cellist and conductor
Tel: +44 (0) 1284 747 129
e: johncatlowcello@btinternet.com