Some Former Members reflect on 20 years of music-making


Sarah: My time wlaura-ayoubsarah-ayoubith the WSSSO was definitely one of the major highlights of my teenage years. I remember staying in the beautiful Carberry Tower near Edinburgh, working on fun and challenging repertoire with some of my best friends from across the West of Scotland. The face of WSSSO was of course the man himself, maestro James Lowe (we all called him Jim). He was such a character and a bit of a musical legend, whom all the orchestra adored! West gave me the opportunity to lead the ‘cello section as well as perform my very first piano concerto – Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2, which was a pivotal moment in my life!

Laura: I had the absolute privilege of leading WSSSO for two years, and performing Bruch concerto in my final year. It was the first time I had ever performed as a soloist with an orchestra which proved to be a truly invaluable experience for me. The social element to the orchestra was incomparable with uncontrollable laughter and excitement squeezed into 7 days that were commonly referred to as “the week of the year”. From the instrument swapping rehearsal, to the farewell ceilidh, the informal concert and sports day (weather permitting)… WSSSO had SO much to offer us, topped by the precious lessons and skills that were shared with us by our incredible tutors and our one and only conductor, Jim Lowe.


Twenty years of martin suckling former WSSO memberWSSSO! I remember nipping in for a quick zap at Laser Quest on Argyle Street during a rehearsal break (it was the 90s). I remember getting kilted up for An Orkney Wedding With Sunrise. I remember Castle Toward, the smell of the sea in the rehearsal hut, skimming stones at the beach and running to the ruins AWOL en masse on post-concert return from Motherwell.  I remember the ferry to Dunoon.  I remember Sibelius and Scheherazade, though they were probably different years.  I remember writing Morning Star for the 10th anniversary and still knowing some of the orchestra members. I remember finding friendships that endure still, a ceilidh band that kept me in pocket money through uni, and that singular joy of performing in an orchestra, the physical delight of being part of this fantastic sound, an experience which constantly inspires me as I write my music today.


Michael is now working as SCO Marketing Officer (Customer Communications)michael-anne-devlin former wsso members

Anne and I look back on our time in the West clarinet section with great fondness and nostalgia. Our time in West had a profound impact on our musical, personal and social development, and we are delighted to begin to support the activities of the orchestra together in a small way. The residential course was truly the highlight of our year – an opportunity to come together and make strong friendships with like-minded young musicians from across the West of Scotland, but most importantly to benefit from the highly experienced and passionate team of instrumental tutors.

In our view, the orchestra has an essential role in the development of young musicians in the West of Scotland and we are really looking forward to celebrating the Trust’s 20th anniversary this evening.


rory-macdonald former wsso member

I had the great privilege of being the leader of the WSSSO for the first few courses of its history and for numerous memorable concerts.  I learnt so much about music and the world of the orchestra from those courses.  The lessons I learnt at WSSSO also proved invaluable when I decided to switch from the violin to conducting – in fact I think my first experience of conducting a full-sized orchestra was at WSSSO when William Conway kindly let me have a go!  I also made life-long friends on those courses, and some of the social activities (informal concerts, ceilidhs, longs walks etc) are ingrained in my memory as strongly as the music is!  I wish the orchestra many happy returns on its 20th birthday from the bottom of my heart!