Rochdale Youth Orchestra

2016 News page

April 2016

We are busy rehearsing for a number of events planned for later in the year.

In June we will be performing at the Dale Con 4 convention at the Town Hall. We will be performing some of the latest film scores to fit in with the theme of the event, together with some old favourites such as the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. Flash Gordon and Dale from the original Flash movie will be the star guests. It promises to be an exciting weekend.

We are also now able to confirm that the date for our Christmas Concert at the Gracie Fields Theatre is Saturday 3rd December 2016. Details of the show and special guest performers will be confirmed soon.

There are lots of other events planned for later in the year and our new musical director Jeremy has been hard at work arranging and rehearsing new pieces.

If you play an instrument and are interested in joining us, please come along to one of our rehearsals - we meet 10.30 to 12.30 on Saturday mornings at the Gracie Fields Theatre, Oulder Hill. Alternatively, you can contact Garry Jones on 01706 355226 or for further information.



Christmas Spectacular - Saturday 5 December 2015

Rochdale Youth Orchestra’s annual ‘Christmas Spectacular’ concert takes place at the Gracie Fields Theatre on Saturday December 5th at 7pm.

The Orchestra with musical director Sue Verity will perform popular festive favourites including ‘Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’, ‘Santa Claus is coming to Town’ and ‘White Christmas’.

RYO Jazz Ensemble’s performance, under the direction of Chris Jolly, will perform pieces that have been enjoyed most over the past few years by both members and audience alike.

Special guest performers, St Vincent’s R.C. School Choir with musical director Chris Willis, will perform a variety of favourite songs from their repertoire. 

Well-known local celebrity Ken Davies will act as compere for the evening.

This will be Sue’s final concert with Rochdale Youth Orchestra after 35 years’ involvement. Sue and the committee are hoping that past members from over the years will come along and join in with the special finale of Christmas music. Please contact Sue as soon as possible if you, or if you know of anyone who, would like to play.

The concert will give the audience plenty of opportunity to join in with Christmas songs and carols.

Tickets (£9 adult, £6 concessions and £1 children) are available from the Gracie Fields Theatre or Touchstones or on the door on the evening of the concert.

For further details, please contact Sue Verity: 01706 631942 or email:



Ken Millington, founder of Rochdale Youth Orchestra, died recently at his home in Colwyn Bay at the age of 83. Born in Wolverhampton, Ken developed a love of music from an early age and studied piano and trumpet in London at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College. He served in the RAF from June 1946 to 1948 after which he took up full time teaching.

Ken was appointed Music Adviser to Rochdale County Borough Council in 1967 with a specific brief to establish a Youth Orchestra. By the time of reorganisation in 1974, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council as it had become, was the proud host of a large organisation that serviced free training in instruments through many of its schools; Ken became a senior lecturer in the College of Adult Education to continue his RYO and adult work, whilst a separate Instrumental Music Service was created alongside to develop work in schools.

Ken took Rochdale Youth Orchestra on tour several times including trips to Vienna and Holland.

As a gifted pianist, Ken was very active on the local scene from the late 60s to his retirement in the early 90s, playing concertos with local orchestras and solo concerts at Rochdale’s Music at Lunchtime. He also regularly accompanied soloists in concerts, festivals and examinations.

Ken moved to North Wales in 1995 and continued to play the piano, often giving local recitals and playing duets with friends and teaching some of his more mature friends to play.

Ken is survived by his only daughter Rachel and his three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Two images of Ken are in the gallery section.

If you require further information, please contact Sue Verity :



Rochdale Youth Orchestra’s ‘Summer Spectacular’ took place in the magnificent great hall of Rochdale Town Hall on Saturday 12th July 2014 in front of a large audience with special guests the Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Carol Wardle and Mayoress Beverley Place.

MC for the evening was Councillor Jane Gartside and guest performers for the evening were Holy Trinity CE Primary School Choir with musical director Christine Longhurst. The children, many of them very young, delighted the audience with their enthusiastic rendition of lively songs such as ‘Si Si Si’ and older favourites including ‘Catch a falling Star’ and ‘Inchworm’ sung in two parts.

The first piece performed by the Orchestra, with musical director Sue Verity, was the rousing theme from the film ‘The Great Escape.’ Other pieces were based on a theme of water and included the ‘Blue Danube’, ‘Loch Lomond’ and one of the children’s favourites – ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’

The Jazz Ensemble, with their musical director Chris Jolly, performed various pieces featuring solos from members of the group, including ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ with Connaire Holmes on percussion and Sian Morton on violin and the song ‘All of Me’ sung by Grace Morris. Nicole Penney performed a flute solo with ‘Lonesome Boatman’

The concert ended with a medley arranged by Chris Jolly involving all of the performers.
Songs including ‘I do Like to be Beside the Seaside’ and ‘She’s a Lassie from Lancashire’ had the audience singing along with the children.

Finally, the children said goodbye with ‘We’re all going on a Summer holiday’!



Rochdale Youth Orchestra Springtime Spectacular 2014

Rochdale Youth Orchestra held their Springtime Spectacular concert on Saturday 22 March and impressed those in attendance with their performance. 

The Mayor of Whitworth, Councillor Karen Ruane and her husband, Mayor Consort Peter Ruane were in attendance. 

The concert, which was held at The Riverside in Whitworth, included a varied programme with performances including ‘Toy Symphony’ by Leopold Mozart and music to ‘Harry Potter’ by John Williams. 

The Youth Orchestra Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Chris Jolly performed some classic jazz and a number of other pieces specially arranged for them by Chris. 

Sung by RYO flautist Grace Morris, their performance of ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse particularly impressed those in attendance 

The Youth Orchestra was also joined by special guests Tonacliffe Primary School Choir and their musical director and local musician Freda Farnworth. During their performance the children delighted the audience with their renditions of ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and ‘Zippedee Doo Dah’.

Compere for the evening was the Youth Orchestra President, former Mayor of Rochdale, Keith Swift with the orchestra being under the direction of Musical Director Sue Verity.


Rochdale Youth Orchestra Springtime Spectacular 2013

This concert took place on Saturday 23rd March 2013 when we all woke up to a large snowfall.

We weren’t sure whether the concert was going to take place at first but stoically, all but 2 of our young musicians turned up for rehearsals in the morning.

All of our players were there for the concert which the Mayor and Mayoress of Rochdale, Councillors James and Jane Gartside, and Mayor and Mayoress of Whitworth, Councillors David and Lynda Barnes, attended.

William Hobhouse kept the proceedings well under control and the audience entertained as Master of Ceremonies.

Rochdale Youth Orchestra, with musical director Sue Verity, performed a varied programme including a concertino with Oulder Hill School pupil Moet Griffiths on solo violin. Moet’s performance of this challenging piece showed great musical skill. Next came various Abba numbers which had the audience tapping toes and humming along to.

The Great Gate of Kiev, a rousing piece of music which involved lots of percussion, ended this section of the concert.

Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School’s outstanding Chamber Choir with musical director Nick Jefferson delighted the audience. They performed various unaccompanied items including the premier of ‘This is the Day of the Lord,’ a new anthem specially written for them. The choir has a forthcoming tour to Barcelona where they will perform at the Basilica of Montserrat amongst other venues.

Chris Jolly, musical director of RYO Jazz Ensemble, led the jazz group in works arranged by himself including the popular ‘Somebody that I used to Know.’

The rousing finale ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ involved all of the performers and audience and brought an exciting concert to a close.

Rochdale Youth Orchestra is having an Open Morning on Saturday 20th April 2013 from 10.15am until 11.45am. All young musicians are welcome to come along and take part in a workshop to include ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Admission free!

For further details, please contact Sue Verity (01706 631942) or Garry Jones (07977 045354)





Mayor's Charity:


Councillor Keith Swift and Sue Etchells raised funds for Rochdale Youth Orchestra during their year of office. They came along to our rehearsal on Saturday morning 3rd July to present a cheque to us for £5,863! Councillor Swift said how delighted he was to have raised this amount of money for such a worthy cause. We are very grateful to Keith for the money he raised and will put it to good use.  


Rochdale Youth Orchestra is an independent organisation with charitable status and was founded over 40 years ago. Thousands of young musicians have passed through since then, many of whom have gone on to make a career in music.

Rochdale Youth Orchestra perform 3 concerts each year and aim to offer a wide range of orchestral repertoire, from well-known classical works by the great composers to modern music from the films and shows. They are always pleased to welcome new members - teachers comment on how much  individual playing improves as a result of  their involvement with Rochdale Youth Orchestra.
As members, the children have the opportunity to make new friends – there is a short break at each rehearsal to allow them to get together. We also arrange other social activities and regular end-of-term outings such as ten pin bowling.

Rochdale Youth Orchestra would be delighted to hear from any past RYO members and find out what they are doing now – perhaps some have children themselves who would like to join.

For further details, please contact Sue on Rochdale 631942.

Contact Information

Rochdale Youth Orchestra

Meets at: Gracie Fields Theatre
Oulder Hill School
OL12 6RY

Tel: 01706 355226