Blogs YCAT as a life-changing experience Former YCAT artist viola player Timothy Ridout reflects on his life-changing experience of being a YCAT artist It’s hard to believe that four years can go by so quickly! Today is exactly four years since I performed Bruch’s Double Concerto with Ben Baker and the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra at St John’s Smith Square. I had already been aware of YCAT but didn’t really think that I stood much of a chance to successfully apply. However, Ben eventually encouraged me to complete the application ... I didn’t realise how much that decision would influence the next few years of my life at the time. It’s hard to define the ‘main’ way in which I benefited from being with YCAT, as it really did influence so many aspects of my life as a musician. Management Firstly, as a manager - they started quite quickly to find me some recital dates around the UK. Over the four years on the programme, I spent a rather large amount of time on stage. There really is no substitute for performance practice. Not only is this something which I love doing, but it also really gave me the chance to explore different ideas. I always have the feeling that I don’t truly know a piece of music until I’ve played it in front of an audience at least once. I quickly learnt what works in a real performance situation. This also gave me a chance to expand my repertoire, and constant opportunities to play. As time with YCAT went by, this developed from chances of regional recitals to also performances with orchestras. Several dreams of mine came true during my third year with YCAT - Walton Concerto with Philharmonia Orchestra, Zurich Tonhalle, Bartók Concerto with BBC Symphony Orchestra and Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Camerata Salzburg. This isn’t to say that YCAT suddenly solved all of my problems, there is no replacement for hard work, however they were always there offering constant support. Coaching & Mentoring Something which I quickly realised as a musician is that there are hundreds of decisions to make, and that unfortunately it isn’t possible to do absolutely everything. Having daily guidance and support with this is completely invaluable – not to mention assistance with all of the practical matters of booking and organising concerts. I’m sure that I must have saved hundreds of hours of work sitting in front of a computer thanks to the work of the amazing team at YCAT! Most days I would be in touch with YCAT one way or another, confirming a programme, booking a flight, making a decision, discussing long term repertoire goals, or dream projects. Concert exposure Another huge benefit of being with YCAT is of course their series at the Wigmore Hall. Over the three years I played three lunchtime recitals as part of this series, and I am honoured to have performed there so much! Finally, I couldn’t be more grateful for their work in these last few months of inviting prospective managers and agencies to my concerts and finally handing me over to a wonderful manager at Harrison Parrott. Thank you Sue, Alasdair, Jess, Helen, Kieran and Sean!!