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Former member profile No.17 Niall Trainor - Cello 1999 - 2003

Posted by robert.briscoe on the Saturday, 02 May 2020

My name is Niall Trainor, and I played in the cello section of CBYO from 1999-2003.

I remember my first concert vividly - the Brahms’ Double Violin and Cello Concerto and Dvorak’s New World Symphony. I was just 14, and woefully out of my depth having never previously performed any major symphonic works, let alone two of this stature. Still, despite my inadequacies, I was hooked. To this day, they remain two of my favourite pieces of music.

CBYO is ingrained in my family. My older sisters (double bass and violin) joined before me, my younger brothers (violin and viola) after. My parents were making the journey to and back from CBYO every Saturday morning almost continually for the guts of two decades, remarkable in itself.

CBYO, as no doubt many alumni will attest to, was a formative experience, musically and personally. We got to perform amazing repertoire. We got tuition and advice from professionals who had played in the Ulster Orchestra their whole career. We made new friends, many of whom I now consider friends for life.

We got to perform in truly fantastic venues all over Europe - too many to mention. The concert tours I went on (Hungary in 2001, and the 2003 European Tour) were insanely good fun, both musically and socially. I could honestly write a book about them but I’d probably have to anonymise most of it to protect the identities of the individuals involved (myself included)!

CBYO also gave great opportunities for so many from within the orchestra’s ranks to perform solos. I was fortunate enough to be one of several soloists on the 2003 tour. My endearing memory is, when about to walk on stage to perform Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody at the Chopin

Academy in Warsaw, my cello spike broke. Unable to fix it, I had to grab a cello from the section and wing it. For me, performing experiences don’t come more formative than that! Incidentally, Stanley Foreman, the conductor, then went to a local music instrument repairer in Warsaw to get the spike replaced. That spike still remains in full working order to this day!

Looking back, I (and no doubt many others) consider myself very fortunate enough to have been in CBYO not just because we were playing great music with friends, but also performing at the time with some truly great musicians. Many have not just gone on to musical careers, but stellar ones at that. I won’t embarrass them by name apart from one fellow member of the cello section, Michael McHale, now a leading international concert pianist. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I am in possession of the cello stopper he used at CBYO. It might well be worth something now, so he ain’t getting it back!

I am heartened to know that Paul McBride, my old teacher at St.Malachy’s College, is now at the helm. In the days before Facebook, Instagram and smart phones, we had far fewer distractions than the youth of today. To cut through all those competing interests, you need someone to inspire passion and commitment to ensure music remains at the forefront of young minds, and Paul has that in spades. And I know Robert Briscoe works tirelessly running everything – a daunting but essential task! The CBYO is well set to go from strength to strength under their leadership.

I’m now a lawyer in London, principally working on copyright issues for Peppa Pig (stop sniggering at the back) but I still play cello regularly. Indeed, call it a mid-life crisis but I’ve recently been back giving solo performances again (of varying quality admittedly!). Performing again brings back all those CBYO memories. Ultimately, I still play today for the love of music. CBYO has played a big part in that


One final anecdote to sum up the impact of CBYO in my life. At my wedding, five former members performed music and one of my ushers was CBSM’s very own Gareth Stitt. Indeed, more than a dozen CBYO alumni where there, not including my siblings! I feel that says it all. I hope one day, many years from now, someone else will be regaling future generations of their own happy memories of CBYO.