Musician of the week: Al

16 year old Al’s musical journey began at a particularly difficult time in his life. 

“In 2019 I had to have a big operation on my heart and afterwards I got very ill. I had two cardiac arrests from which I had to be resuscitated. It took me a long time to recover and while I was at home I started to teach myself the bass guitar. I’m a massive Beatles fan and learned every Beatles song I could! 

“I moved to double bass so I could play Rockabilly music like Elvis and Bill Haley as well as learn some classical music. After a few lessons with my teacher Geth, he suggested I audition for the Junior Royal Northern College of Music and I was offered a place!” 

Al was delighted but needed financial help to cover the fees. With a little help from his grandma who took to the internet to look for funding, he found Awards Young Musicians, applied to our Awards programme and was offered support! 

Al’s weekends are very busy and full of making music: on Saturdays, he still studies at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music (JRNCM) and on Sundays he trains with the Halle Youth Orchestra.  

“Joining was a little bit scary at first. I didn’t know if I would fit in. But then I made lots of new friends. We’re all there because we love music.”

It is this sense of connection that keeps him playing music – his greatest passion is playing with other people.  

“I love being in an orchestra because of the big sound and the feeling of being in the middle of everything. Next year I’ll be going on tour to Scotland and Berlin and I can’t wait!” 

Al would love to play in an orchestra when he grows up. So joining the AYM/ BBC Symphony Orchestra Exchange mentoring programme was a huge inspiration. Along with nine other AYM supported musicians he’s spent the year being mentored by a member of the BBC SO. Al’s mentor is BBC SO double bassist Beverley Jones. 

As Al’s mother Cathy says 

“Al has learnt so much – Bev has helped him with his instrument, technique and improvisation skills. They have played duets and talked about a whole range of musical styles. Al has been left excited, motivated and inspired.”

On Sunday 4 December Al performed alongside Beverley with the full BBC SO at our autumn 2022 Awards Day event at BBC Maida Vale Studios. 

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