7th May Spring Concert – Information for musicians

Our concert is at Jesmond United Reformed Church (Burdon Terrace, Jesmond, NE2 3AE) on Saturday 7th May at 2:30pm, with a rehearsal from 12:30pm.

As for the previous rehearsals please note:

1.      Everyone will need to bring their own music stand.

2.      Everyone should bring their own music 

3.      Please bring your own drink/snack if required.

4.      Concert dress – all black trousers/tops/dresses/skirts

For the concert:

1.    There are no printed tickets and we suggest a donation of £5 for each adult attending (although any additional donations are very welcome!!) Please note that there  will be no card payment facilities, so we request that you please bring cash with you.

2.      We won’t be able to serve refreshments, but please feel free to bring your own.

3.      We anticipate the concert will last until about 4pm.

Thank you to those who have brought raffle prizes already. Any further donations will be gratefully received at the beginning of the rehearsal. It will be £1 for a strip of tickets on the day.

Winter Concert 2021

We are very excited at the prospect of our SPYE concert scheduled for 4:30pm on Saturday 27th November at Jesmond United Reformed Church (Burdon Terrace, Jesmond, NE2 3AE). We will have a rehearsal (also at JURC) immediately before the concert from 2.30pm.

We are going to have a raffle to raise money towards supporting some of the cost of a residential in March 2022. It will be £1 for a strip of tickets on the day.

As I’m sure you will appreciate the arrangements for the concert will be a little different to usual to ensure we are operating in accordance with COVID guidance.

As for the previous rehearsals please note:

1.      Everyone will have to use hand sanitiser on arrival and when entering or leaving.

2.      Everyone will need to wear face coverings (except woodwind, when playing).

3.      Everyone will need to bring their own music stand.

4.      Everyone should bring their own music 

5.      Please bring your own drink/snack if required.

6.      Concert dress – all black trousers/tops/dresses/skirts

For the concert (4:30pm):

1.      Please use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the church. If you are able to bring your own hand sanitiser that would be great.

2.      Please wear a face covering at all times, unless exempt.

3.     There are no printed tickets and we suggest a donation of £5 for each adult attending (although any additional donations are very welcome!!) 

4.      We won’t be able to serve refreshments unfortunately but please feel free to bring your own.

5.      We anticipate the concert will last for approximately 1 hour.

We encourage everyone (musicians and audience) to take a lateral flow test less than 24 hours before attending if possible please.  It goes without saying that if you have symptoms or have tested positive, please do not attend the concert.

Autumn Term 2021

We have our first SPYE rehearsal this Saturday (11th) at St. Andrew’s Church, Benton, NE12 8AW from 2.30 to 5.30pm. We aim to begin the rehearsals at 2:30, so please arrive in time to sign in and set up. A full list of rehearsal and concert dates are on the website:  


If you have a young person who is new to SPYE or already part of SPYE and would like to continue, our Membership Form for this academic year can be downloaded from our website here: Here, you can also find out Privacy Statement, in line with GDPR, and our COVID-19 Risk Assessment. We will have some hard copies of Membership Forms available at the rehearsal, but we would prefer an electronic copy to avoid unnecessary gatherings of people.


Please see our most recent email for details of this years fees and how to pay.

Practical information for rehearsals

Some things will be a little bit different to usual to ensure we are complying with guidance around minimising the risk of transmission of COVID. There are a few things to be aware of:

1. Parents/carers will not be allowed to enter the church. String Orchestra members will enter and leave the church via the door in the church car park. Symphony Orchestra members will enter and leave via the fire exit to the left of the main entrance to the church (please see photos below if unsure). If your child is visiting SPYE for the first time and is unsure which orchestra they will be joining, our committee and music directors will point you in the right direction.

2. Everyone will have to use hand sanitiser on arrival and when entering or leaving the hall; hand sanitiser will be provided.

3. As usual, all orchestra members will be required to sign in at the start of rehearsals and out at the end, and also if leaving the church during the break to go to the shop, for those with permission to do so. 

4. We would strongly urge everyone to wear a face covering (except woodwind, when playing).

5. Everyone will need to bring their own music stand and pencil – musicians will be socially distanced so it won’t be possible to share music stands and we won’t have any available to borrow.

6. We won’t be operating the tuck shop so please bring your own drink/snack if required. We are looking into a viable way of reinstating the tuck shop in a COVID-safe manner in the future. Several orchestra members have indicated that they have a nut allergy or intolerance. With this in mind we have decided to make rehearsal ‘nut free’. Please do not bring any food containing nuts into rehearsals.

7. Those members who have consent to do so will be allowed to visit the local shop during the break.

We look forward to seeing you soon,

The SPYE Committee

The String Orchestra will enter the church via the door in the church car park:

The Symphony Orchestra will enter the church via the fire door to the left of the main entrance:

We’re back!

We’re delighted to announce that we will be holding face-to-face rehearsals next month, and ending the term with a concert in July. Please check emails for full details of measures that we have in place and repertoire, and see our updated Dates page for details of where and when. We look forward to seeing you all soon!

SPYE 2021 Update

Online rehearsals

Unfortunately current circumstances mean that rehearsals will have to continue on Zoom for the foreseeable future. We plan to hold a rehearsal every 3 weeks and intend to continue rehearsals until July (later in the year than usual as GCSEs and A-levels are not going ahead). Our hope is that face to face rehearsals will be possible at some point and that we will work towards having a summer concert. In the meantime we will also encourage our musicians to contribute to another video (or audio only if they prefer) recording of a short piece. A list of dates for the next two terms can be found here:


The committee has agreed that we will not charge fees in the current circumstances. If you wish to make a donation for attending the online rehearsals that would be most welcome though! Please see our recent email for our bank details, or contact the committee at We will resume charging fees as usual once face to face rehearsals are able to start.  


SPYE will continue to work on the pieces started last term, but will also work on some new pieces. We thought it would be good if any of the members have suggestions of pieces they would like to play – either a short piece for the video recording or pieces that they would like to perform at the summer concert. Please let us know any suggestions.

New members

It’s difficult to recruit new members at the moment, and we’re also aware that there might be young people whose usual orchestras are not providing opportunities for them to get together in a virtual environment who might be interested in joining the SPYE Zoom rehearsals. If you know of anyone who would like to join the SPYE rehearsals please ask them to contact us and we will invite them to attend.

SPYE Junior Committee

We thought a good way for SPYE members to have a say in the development of SPYE would be for them to form a small committee with representatives from both the orchestras that could feed into the main SPYE committee. Please let us know your thoughts on this and if your child would be interested in being involved.

SPYE Challenge 2!

For our Pictures at an Exhibition themed challenges there are three options. Send your submissions to by Saturday 28th November. Please let us know if you are happy for us to share your submission on our website and/or our social media.

Option 1:

Mussorgsky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition for piano, and many others have orchestrated it for a variety of ensembles since. The most famous is Ravel’s orchestration, which is our focus for November. Pick a movement from the piano score and orchestrate it (or a section of it) for a group of instruments of your choice. The piano music can be found here:

Option 2:

Pictures at an Exhibition was inspired by an exhibition of Viktor Hartmann’s works. Some of the pictures on display at this exhibition were paintings, and others were sketches and architectural designs. Pick an image that inspires you and write a short piece of music depicting this image for an instrument/group of instruments of your choice.

Option 3:

Although this piece of music was initially inspired by works of art, this has also worked in reverse, with the artist Wassily Kandinsky being inspired by the music to create new art work. You can find out more about this here: Pick one movement (or more if you wish!) to listen to from the list below and produce an artwork inspired by the music.

List of movements:

  • Promenade I
  • Gnomus. The music depicts a gnome running on crooked legs (Hartmann’s picture was a design for a gnome-shaped nutcracker).
  • Promenade II
  • Il vecchio castello (‘The Old Castle’). A troubadour sings before a medieval castle. 
  • Promenade III
  • Tuileries. This depicts the Paris gardens, bustling with nursemaids and squabbling children.
  • Bydło. A Polish ox-cart rolls along on enormous wheels.
  • Promenade IV
  • Ballet des poussins dans leur coques (‘Ballet of Chicks in their Shells’). Hartmann’s picture shows sketches of some costume designs for a ballet.
  • Samuel Goldenberg und Schmuÿle. This is a double portrait based on two pictures of Polish Jews by Hartmann.
  • Limoges – Le Marché (‘Limoges – The marketplace’). The French market-women in this piece are said to be gossiping about a lost cow, a drunken neighbour and some false teeth.
  • Catacombœ: Sepulcrum Romanum. Hartmann depicts himself probing the mysteries of the Roman tombs by the light of a lantern.
  • La Cabande sur des pattes de poule (‘The Hut on Fowl’s Legs). Hartmann designed a clock in the form of the hut in which dwelt the mythical witch of Russian folklore, Baba-Yaga.
  • La grande porte de Kiev (‘The Great Gate of Kiev’). This design was commissioned in 1866 but was never built.

SPYE Challenge!

Thank you to the musicians who joined us for our first online session last month. It was lovely to see you all again after all of these months!

You might remember that at the end of the rehearsal, Peter set some of the Symphony Orchestra players a challenge to play the piece all by themselves using double stops. We’re going to make the challenges a feature of every session, but there will be a few choices so that you can pick the one that you think suits you best!


Challenge No. 1

Option 1:

Learn the double stopped version of the Nintendo Wii theme and submit a recording/video of yourself playing it to before the next rehearsal (Saturday 7th November). The sheet music for this was emailed out last month.

Option 2:

Learn the double stopped version of the Nintendo Wii theme and complete the arrangement. Submit a recording/video of yourself playing it to before the next rehearsal (Saturday 7th November). 

Option 3:

Design a Wii Mii-style avatar of yourself (like the conductor one Peter had on the screen in the last session). This could incorporate your instrument or could be representing your interests and personality in a different way. Drawings would be lovely, or if you have the means and would prefer to do this using software, that is also fine. Please send us your avatars by Monday 9th November if you would like us to incorporate them in our video recordings and share your work on our website/social media accounts.

Our conductors will reveal the next set of challenges at our session on 7th November. We will also publish them on the website once they have been revealed so that you can still get involved if you aren’t at the next session.

Returning to SPYE

We’re really hoping that we will be able to get SPYE playing together again on 26th September. We are unable to rehearse at our usual venue this term, but are in the process of confirming another venue, following risk assessment.

  • 26th September
  • 3rd and 17th October
  • 7th and 28th November
  • 12th December

Final confirmation and further details will follow shortly. However we anticipate rehearsals will run from 2.30-5.30pm on the following dates:

Obviously, the way we run rehearsals will be a little different, in order to keep everyone safe. Musicians will be well spaced during the rehearsals, in accordance with current guidance, and in addition everyone will: 

  • need to bring their own music stand 
  • have their own copy of their music
  • wear masks (except wind players while playing, of course!)
  • be asked to use hand sanitiser
  • be required to sign a declaration that they have not had any COVID symptoms in the previous 7 days and leave contact details for track and trace

A membership and health form has been emailed to existing members.  Please get in touch if you have any concerns or queries and look out for further emails with details of final arrangements.

Virtual SPYE 2!

We are pleased to announce that we are going to make another Virtual SPYE video. This time we are going to do 3 movements from Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances.

We encourage you to listen to a recording of all six dances – wonderful music! The three movements we will be playing start at 3:20 in this video

Please check your emails for a link to our shared folder of parts and instructions for making your recording.

Please try to let us have your recording by Friday 19th June.

Virtual SPYE

Some of our young musicians have been very organised and recorded themselves to make a virtual SPYE performance! Thank you to Matthew for his work and dedication in editing the video. They have done all of this without the help of adults. We’re delighted to see how much continuing to play during lockdown means to our members.


Virtual SPYE?

Our musicians have worked very hard this term and we know they will be disappointed that we have had to cancel our May concert. By way of making up for this (and providing extra activities to everyone occupied!), we wondered if our musicians would be interested in making a video, as many other orchestras have done, that we could put on our website and Facebook page?

Here is a fantastic example of a video collaboration from the New York Youth Symphony:


This would involve us sending out a (short!) piece of music for the musicians to practice and then record themselves playing. We can then ‘stitch’ together all the individual recordings to create virtual SPYE! A video recording would be great but if anyone would prefer to send a sound only recording that would be fine too. Please let the committee know if you/your child would like to be involved in this exciting project by emailing

SPYE Update 29/03/20

We hope you’re all managing to stay well and keep occupied if your normal activities are currently curtailed.

Remaining rehearsals and concert

It seems unlikely that we will be able to go ahead with the 3 remaining rehearsals and concert planned for this term, given the current situation, so these are now cancelled.

We will continue to review the situation and if it seems likely that some sort of event – perhaps an open rehearsal – will be possible towards the end of the summer term (late June/early July) we will look into organising one.


In view of the fact that 4 rehearsals have had to be cancelled this year we will offer a £20 reduction on fees next year as compensation (making the fee for next year £135).


Please stay home as much as possible and stay healthy.

SPYE Committee

Final Details for Residential 2020

We are all looking forward to our residential at Kingswood next week! Below is a copy of the information that has been emailed to parents/carers.


Can we ask that everyone arrives at St. Andrews Church by 5.15pm on March 6th 2020 ready for a prompt 5.30pm departure. This is to ensure we arrive at Kingswood ready for the evening meal.
For those parents taking their children directly to Kingswood please could you let us know (so we aren’t waiting at the church for you) by Saturday 29th February 2020  and could you aim to arrive at Kingswood for about 6.30 – 7.00pm.
We will be leaving Kingswood on Sunday at about 2.00pm, aiming to be back at St. Andrews Church by 3.00- 3.30pm.
For those parents collecting their children from Kingswood, please could you arrive at 1.45pm.



Please note, no nuts are allowed! All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are provided by Kingswood. There is a separate dining room where we will all eat together (Kingswood is a nut-free zone). Please can you let us know of any dietary needs / allergies by Saturday 29th February 2020. We have details on the Membership forms, but wish to have these confirmed so that we can let Kingswood know before we arrive. 

Packing list:

No huge suitcases, or bags, please. The coach space is limited with all the instruments too.    
  • One bath towel
  • Toiletries bag containing: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, hairbrush etc. **roll-on deodorants only**
  • Night clothes (and cuddly toy)
  • Slippers or soft indoor shoes
  • Socks and underwear
  • T-shirts (at least one with long sleeves for the outside activities on Saturday afternoon), sweatshirt (one thick, one light)
  • Trousers and / or jeans and / or tracksuit bottoms
  • Old clothes for the Saturday afternoon outdoor activities
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sturdy shoes or wellingtons
  • Trainers
  • Large plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • Gloves, hat, scarf
  • Water bottle
  • Small card games to share
  • Book to read
  • Some money (no more than £10) for the shop. The shop sells snacks and drinks, as well as postcards, souvenirs, games and mementos.
  • In case of lost property please put your child’s name on all items of clothing!

In addition to the items above:

  • Everyone must bring their instrument, a labelled music stand, spare strings / reeds, a pencil and a rubber. Cellists MUST bring a spike protector.
  •  A mobile phone/device with head phones is allowed, but please do not bring radios etc. which will disturb others.
  •  No chewing gum, food, sweets, or canned drinks will be allowed during rehearsals (bring labelled water bottles).

The committee wishes to stress that members will not be allowed to smoke or drink alcohol at any time during the weekend.

The weekend is usually great fun and consists of music rehearsals on Friday evening, Saturday morning and evening and Sunday morning. On Saturday afternoon there will be outdoor activities run by the Kingswood staff. There will be free time too in between rehearsals where the children can either chill in their rooms or use the outside space. The outside spaces have to be quiet by 9pm and everyone has to be in their own rooms by 10pm (Kingswood rules).

The committee or Kingswood cannot accept liability for the loss, theft or damage of any personal property your child may bring.

If you have any questions about the residential, please do get in touch ( and we will do our best to answer them.

Happy New Year!

We hope all of our members and their families had an enjoyable holiday.

Thank you again to everyone who supported us last term. We have had some wonderful feedback from our 40th Anniversary Concert, and we were delighted to raise £335.44 at our ASDA fundraiser.

The coming term is set to be exciting for all of us at SPYE. We have exciting new repertoire to get our teeth into, and our Residential to look forward to in March!

Our first rehearsal of the term is this coming Saturday (11th January). Just a reminder that our dates for the rest of the term can be found here.



Autumn Term 2019 Welcome

We hope you have all had a good summer! 2019-20 registration forms for returning and new members have now been sent out via email. If you have not received this, please check your spam/junk folders, or let us know that you would like to be added to the mailing list.

Rehearsals start again Saturday, 7th September 2.30-5.30pm at St Andrew’s church. A full list of rehearsal and concert dates are on the website; here’s the link:

This year is the 40th anniversary since SPYE was formed. To celebrate this we are going to be doing a concert in December with current and past members. If you are a past member, or know of someone who was, and would be interested in joining the orchestra as part of the 40th Anniversary Concert on Saturday, December 14th 2019, please contact us for more information. Details of repertoire will be listed on our website soon. 

Another Successful Concert for SPYE


On Saturday 18th May, we held our Summer Concert at Jesmond United Reformed Church. We were delighted to see the church full, with both familiar and new faces in the audience.

The concert began with Ennio Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe, the famous theme from the 1986 film, The Mission. This featured the strings from our Symphony Orchestra, with Oliver playing the oboe solo, as well as directing the group. The result was a very sensitive and beautiful performance, with strong communication between the soloist and the orchestra.

Our young musicians were joined by the rest of the woodwind section and their conductor, Peter, for Fauré’s Pavane, Op. 50. Opening with a haunting flute solo, the piece progressed with poise and elegance.

Our Junior Orchestra then took to the stage with their conductor, Hannah. They began with an uplifting Minuet and Trio by Mozart, performed with energy and precision. This was followed by Sibelius’ Andante Festivo, a challenging but exquisitely beautiful piece. Our young musicians gave a passionate and dedicated rendition, and thoroughly expressed their love of this work.

Our Junior Orchestra ended their performance with three movements from Pamela Wedgwood’s Jazzin’ About Suite, titled ‘Take It from Here‘, ‘Black Jack’ and ‘Strawberry Flip’. Each different in style, but with a delightful energy and humour, our young musicians demonstrated their skill in complex rhythms and wonderfully varied articulations and dynamics.


Our final work of the evening saw the Symphony Orchestra return to the stage for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. Having performed the first two movements in the Winter Concert, this performance featured the entire work. This was the first time a symphony had been performed in SPYE’s forty year history, and a proud moment for all involved. This symphony is a demanding work, both in terms of musical content and the stamina that is required, but our young musicians produced a performance with integrity and drama.

As our experienced audience members will know, we can’t have a SPYE concert without a raffle! Some beautiful prizes had been donated, and there were some excitable cheers from audience and orchestra members alike as numbers were drawn.

As we draw to the close of an academic year, we had the misfortune of having to say goodbye to some valued members of our ensemble, as they move onto the next stages of their studies. Thank you to Jenny, Daire, Fiona and Benji for the hours (and years!) of dedication you have shown to SPYE, and the beautiful music you have shared with us. We wish you all the best for the future and hope you will come to visit us at future concerts.

Thank you also to our conductors and committee members for their dedication to SPYE. And an extra thank you to the parents and carers of our young musicians for your continued support and enthusiasm.

We will soon be posting information about our 40th anniversary celebrations. Watch this space!

Notice for Parents and Carers – arrangements for Saturday’s concert

This Saturday, May 18th is the SPYE concert. It is at Jesmond United Reformed Church.

Jesmond United Reformed Church
Burdon Terrace
Newcastle upon Tyne

Please can everyone arrive for a 2.30pm rehearsal start with their instruments, a NAMED stand, pencil and a packed tea.

Doors will open for all parents / carers / grandparents / friends at 5.30pm for refreshments in the church hall. The concert will start at 6.00pm. Please don’t be offended if we don’t let you into the church before 6pm as there could be rehearsals still continuing.

The dress code is white or black tops and black trousers / skirts for the Junior Orchestra and all black for the Symphony Orchestra please.

There will be a break, but only members who are Y9 or above who have written permission ON THE DAY will be allowed out of the church.

There will be photographs taken during the rehearsals and concert for our website gallery and social media. Please let the committee know before Saturday if you do not wish for your child to be included by emailing us at