Skip to main content
Read, Watch & Listen

Bristol Beacon Youth Music Tour

Bristol Youth Orchestra and Bristol Youth Choir perform in a historic church

Last month (24-28 July 2022) 59 young musicians from Bristol Youth Orchestra and Bristol Youth Choir embarked on their first international tour to the Loire region of France. They were joined by Bristol Beacon staff Rhian Cocker, Ebony Love and Lu Bristow along with the leaders of both youth ensembles Tim Harrison, David Ogden, Maddy Stonehewer and Sandie Middleton.

Now they’ve all arrived back in Bristol safely, we take a look back at how they got on.


A long time coming

This tour was organised by Rhian Cocker, Music Centre Coordinator, to celebrate commitment and share the talent of the young musicians we support in Bristol. For some, this was their first experience performing music abroad and travelling independently. The tour itself was long awaited, with previous tour plans postponed twice due to COVID-19.

“I can’t express how proud I am of all 59 young musicians for the dedication and hard work that they put in for the duration of the tour and in the rehearsals leading up to it.” Rhian said, “the sound they made was incredible and the finale of ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel The Spirit’ in the last concert brought me to tears (of joy)!”

For the tour concerts, they performed a varied programme including Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, extracts from Bizet’s Carmen and Vois Sur Ton Chemin from the soundtrack to French film Les Choristes. The concerts finished with crowd pleasing traditional pieces ‘This Train’ and ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit’.

A group of 60 young people wearing black smile and pose happily
📸 Rhian Pullen Photography

I had a wonderful time and am very inspired by it all… I feel like I have developed some great friendships and real love of the music!

Ensemble member


From Southmead to Sainte-Gemmes-sur-Loire

Bristol Youth Orchestra and Bristol Youth Choir performed concerts for the local community, performing in contemporary music venues including the Salle Art Image in Sainte-Gemmes sur Loire and in the historic church Eglise Fougeré in Fougeré.

Rehearsals began well in advance back home in Bristol, with a preview of some pieces performed at the Bristol Youth Choir Summer Concert earlier this year at St George’s Bristol.

The local audience gave the musicians a very warm welcome, selling out the complimentary tickets for each performance and singing along to pieces in the finale, with some locals enjoying the first concert so much, they went to see it again the following day!

During the week the young musicians had the opportunity to visit Château de Brézé and have a boat tour on the Loire river. Students also had time to relax in the historic city of Angers and even had an afternoon swimming in the lake near their accommodation.

“There were so many young people who bravely came along despite knowing hardly any one else, who by the end of the week, had formed strong new friendships.”  Music Education Coordinator, Ebony Love said, “It was amazing to watch them all grow in confidence over the week, mix as a choir and orchestra and perform on stage together. We are all so proud of them all.”

A group of young people holding black folders sing together
📸 Rhian Pullen Photography

At the start of the trip I was really nervous but as I spent more time with everyone my confidence grew as I made more friends.

Ensemble member

Our daughter came back buzzing from the experience. She loved every minute and really valued the opportunity to share a love of music with others.


Join an ensemble

Come together and share the power of creating a musical experience with others. There are lots of opportunities for young people to join a group, choir or ensemble and gain confidence through playing together with others.

Take a look at how to start your musical journey.

Find out more

More like this

Bristol Beacon’s Work Experience week
A group of students stood next to a TV Screen

Bristol Beacon’s Work Experience week

Earthsong on BBC Radio 3 Music Matters
Three young people wearing school uniforms hold violins and look up towards a music teacher.

Earthsong on BBC Radio 3 Music Matters

Diversity and Inclusion: how Bristol Beacon is changing
Man wearing a dark tracksuit and trainers jumps through the air mid somersault.

Diversity and Inclusion: how Bristol Beacon is changing