Tour Diary

Photos from Perth Youth Orchestra’s concert tour to Italy in its 50th Anniversary year. The orchestra is honoured to have been invited to take part in the Florence Festival of Youth Orchestras, performing at the Piazza del Signori and Santo Stefano in Florence and in nearby Pietrasanta, Montecatini, and San Giminiano.

Following their enthusiastic reception from a crowd of 2000 at Piazza del Signori, the musicians remarked about their experience. “Epic” seemed to be an understatement for the experience set among the open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art including the Medici lions.

‘Best experience of my life’, ‘we could not have asked for a better audience or setting’.

In truth it must have been the orchestra’s best week in 50 years!

PYO’s first concert in Italy was at the Tettuccio Spa in Monticatini Terme. Set in beautiful parkland, the neo-classical spa building towered around the orchestra, capturing even the most delicate sounds. Soloists Magnus Pickering (trumpet) and Merran Kay (cello) delighted a packed venue with their music by Aruturian and Bruch.

At the sumptuous sounds of Walton’s Crown Imperial, the venue lighting provided its own displays, intending to match the tones and moods of the players. Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, and extracts from Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Dance brought the concert to a rousing climax.

A well disciplined clearance followed as the lorry was reloaded to be ready for the next day’s concert in Florence.

The Florence Festival of Youth welcomed Perth Youth Orchestra to La Loggia della Signoria this evening. On paper it was going to be  a big playing opportunity for our young musicians – in reality it was massive. In the afternoon the crowds cheered every one of the sound bites. In the evening the crowd grew to 1800-2000  – with many others passing through the square.

In a programme of popular well-loved movie classics, pleasing to player and listener alike, PYO brought the true magic of the silver screen to the city Florence.

Time to take a dip in the Mediterranean before an evening concert at the seaside resort of Pietrasanto.


The logistics of transfering the larger instruments from HGV lorry to minivan, in order to negotiate Florence’s narrow streets and strict traffic bylaws, meant that a visit to the Ufizzi was not possible. There was a chance to explore shops and markets and to buy yet another gellato before setting up for our fourth concert.



On their visit to Pisa it was the Cathedral and its beautiful grounds that interested the young people the most. Gellati and the markets were popular too but, at an entry cost of 18, ascending the famous tower was left to Lorna and Louise who bravely took up the challenge on behalf of the group.

A visit to Pisa is followed by a visit to the delightful Montecatini Alto where the organisers described PYO’s appearance as ‘the most exciting thing that has happened in the town – ever!”

It was hard to believe that this could be true since the PYO ensembles played in the picturesque square surrounded by cafe and tourist shops. A very warm reception for the local was echoed by groups of expatriots Scots, Scottish tourists, families and friends alike.