Meet James, one of the inspirational Blavatnik Scholars of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain

Here’s an inspirational story from Classic FM’s Orchestra of Teenagers. Meet James, one of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s Blavatnik Scholars

James was born with oral dyspraxia, which meant he had to be taught how to use the muscles in his mouth to form speech:

“This process was painstaking but rewarding as by the end I could talk. Although I’m still not brilliant with words and talking generally and its tricky to think and talk under pressure I think this is why I respond with my music instead, and want to communicate through my cello.”

But taking up the cello didn’t prove straight-forward…

“Along with this I’ve had severe difficulties with my skin, being hospitalized as a baby to try to stabilise severe eczema. Controlling this continued throughout my primary school and into early secondary. I struggled with reactions to my skin when holding a bow and remember Mum having conversations with the specialist about the impact the hair and rosin was having on my fingers.”

But despite all this, he has played the cello since the age of six.

“I started playing the cello aged six and I really feel that discovering that I could do this well gave me confidence in spite of my issues, and gave me a real purpose in life. What I had been through was character building. I learned a lot of patience and determination. My health issues weren’t going to stop me!”

Ten places in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain have been funded by Sir Leonard Blavatnik – and James is one of this year’s Blavatnik Scholars. Find out more here.

I was able to take part in the local Music Service activities and it was through them that I first heard of NYO Inspire, on a Facebook post. I went to my first NYO Inspire Day in Birmingham 2014 and I wanted more! I am very grateful for Sir Lenard’s support and all of the donors at NYO. It has given me this fantastic opportunity!”

Sir Leonard Blavatnik said: “I have been proud to support the NYO for a number of years, and to help young and promising musicians to flourish. This year I am supporting ten new and equally deserving young musicians, including James who has overcome many challenges to take his place as a cellist in the Orchestra. I am delighted that he and so many others will benefit from this unique opportunity”.