Charles Campbell Peek has written about his  journey from Rugby player to performing on the Double Bass with the Essex Young  Persons Orchestra, the Essex Youth Orchestra, alongside musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra, National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain and now the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

Read Charles’ inspirational and entertaining story in full: 

“It all really started because of rugby. There was this boy that played for the same club as me whose house I would sometimes go round after training or matches. He had a piano and I always enjoyed watching him play and trying to convince myself I was playing with him whenever I touched the keys.

Months later, I started having piano lessons with the same teacher as him and the following year I started having violin lessons with my piano teachers husband which was very convenient. As both of my teachers lived on a boat after a year or two, I had to start looking elsewhere for lessons and that’s when we found Havering Music Services (HMS) who have had a vital part in my progress that I have made as a musician.

In the summer before I joined HMS, my father was watching a documentary in which a man had this huge instrument and after a few seconds he spun it and I was left in awe. In the September we asked HMS if they had any of these huge instruments that I could start to learn. The instrument I used wasn’t as big as the one on TV as I was only 7 and it was a 1/16 size. I immediately fell in love with it and in the Summer of the year that I had first started the Double Bass, I played Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations alongside LSO musicians in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in front of a full Olympic stadium 80,000 strong. The following year I was awarded a Scholarship.

I kept on doing LSO schemes and with the influence of my amazing teacher Mike Speed I travelled to the South Bank Centre and auditioned for the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain. It was quite odd as there were two people sitting there as well as a huge camera lens pointed straight at me, but I was successful with my audition and led the Bass Section there from 2013-2017.

In my first year of NCO I heard about this older orchestra called NYO and discovered from other 9 year olds that it was very hard to get into even for people that had done their grade 8 which at the time came around a lot sooner than I would ever have anticipated thanks to Mr Speed.

In my final year of NCO I had to once again start to look for other places to play. I already played in every ensemble I could at Havering Music  School and had recently started studying at Junior Guildhall. Through school, we heard about Essex Youth Orchestra and Essex Young Persons Orchestra. So we decided to audition, a process that I was soon getting used to.

In the Winter of 2017 I participated in my first EYO and thoroughly enjoyed it desperate for Spring to come around so I could do another course and in the summer after the tour, I auditioned for NYO.

 This sort of audition was different form any other audition I had done before. I had to prepare excerpts before the audition and play them there and then. I still had to play two contrasting pieces and there was still a time limit. After waiting an hour and a bit, I rejoined the session with 4 other bassists who were auditioning and took part in a mini sectional which was very competitive, but I was lucky to fit in a few suggestions and extra bowings. I did all three residencies and even two play the schools and the inspire course in Liverpool. One of my highlights of the year was definitely playing on the 12th night of the BBC Proms and going on tour to Germany with both NYO and EYO.

The 2019-2020 season sees my second season with the NYO after another successful
audition along with Edward Frazer-Brown.”

Edward Frazer-Brown, Tuba player, is the latest young musician from Essex  Music Services to join the NYO of Great Britain